Two weeks flew by, but there was much to learn and wonderful new people to meet and work with. This is Ali’s story.
The Lincoln Fellowship program allows a Macleay student to collaborate with English peers and take part in multi-platform reporting workshops run by renowned industry professionals. During her time at Lincoln Ali was also tasked with sourcing stories, conducting interviews and shooting footage to present for Macleay’s own publication, The Newsroom.
On a chilly January evening I made my way from London’s bustling Kings Cross Station to Lincolnshire in England’s east midlands. Snaking my way north through the darkened countryside on a two-carriage rattler, I could not help but marvel at my ability to adapt under pressure. Travelling solo for the first time in my life, making connections and following maps was always going to be my biggest test. It is a constant struggle as
many who know me can attest . As luck would have it, English is my native tongue and I speak it fluently (most of the time), so the journey was relatively pain-free apart from the ridiculously heavy and overpacked luggage I was carrying*.
The air was biting and still when I
emerged at Lincoln station. Only the quick, shallow puffs of my freezing breath disturbed the peaceful scene, lingering briefly before dissipating into the night air.
On the way to my hotel
by taxi, I chattered away with a quintessentially English taxi driver. His warm words and hearty recommendations instantly made me feel less cold, and the anxiety I had carried for 17,000 kilometres slowly melted away.
Here I am, Lincoln. I’ve arrived!
*Although I hate to admit, a lot of help was provided
by various bodies of the male persuasion who took pity on a strange blonde woman struggling to steer her bag, let alone lift it 2cm off the ground.
An unusually ‘mild’ winter
One word: Thermals.
The struggle is real.
Anyone who has seen a grown woman trying to fit thermals under her skinny jeans knows it is not a pleasant experience. There should be a class at Fitness First for this exercise. Countless calories and swear words are liberated in the process.
One hour and three coffees later I entered the hallowed realm of Lincoln University, tired but sartorially triumphant.
Crossing a footbridge over the Brayford Pool, brimming with quarrelling ducks and graceful swans, I was struck by a contrast between new age and tradition. This collision is a little jarring at first but as I found my bearings, the dichotomy started to make perfect sense. Like pieces of an old fashioned quilt, McDonald’s and Topshop are stitched together with vintage tea houses and aromatic bakeries, a state-of-the-art engineering faculty blending comfortably with cobblestones and stained glass windows.
Watching over it all is the guardian of the district
Lincoln Cathedral. Ornate and mesmerising, it stands as an imposing sentry. Nestled on Steep Hill, the medieval cathedral was once the tallest building in the world. One does not have to look far beyond its beauty to be reminded of a rich and fascinating past.
The only thing that could possibly make this setting even more beautiful was a soft blanketing of snow, right out of a Christmas card.
But, I was constantly assured while peaking out from my scarf, the weather was extremely mild for the time of year. Balmy, even!
From near and far
I love accents, from all over the world. I like to think I can copy them, but unfortunately that talent exists only in my head. So it was a pleasant surprise when I was met with a babel of accents from both students and tutors alike. Together with a mix of British accents, I encountered men and women from Austria, Turkey, Italy, America and the Philippines. Participating in discussions informed by so many of thought-provoking perspectives was an amazing privilege.
This is a testament to Lincoln’s impressive reputation worldwide. After just 20 years the university easily competes alongside other highly respected and well-established colleges. No small feat.
I asked a student from Chicago, in the final year of a journalism degree, why she chose to study at Lincoln. It was a logical choice for her: “I wanted to get away from the insular nature of the US media and broaden my horizons.”
Some might say Lincoln is in the middle of nowhere, a mere quaint, country town. But all of Europe is right on your doorstep, and London, Cardiff, Edinburgh mere hours away.
A story breaking only a short drive from Lincoln city made international headlines during my stay. Sperm whales beached themselves on the Skegness shoreline, a sad tale that became a media sensation.
Another breaking headline, a little more homely, but no less compelling, was the infamous shrub dispute of 2016. #hedgegate had the British public captivated. Roy Dowson, an 89-year-old resident of Burton-by-Lincoln, was ordered to trim back the hedge surrounding his property. The beautifully manicured plant was deemed a “danger to pedestrians” after complaints it was blocking the pathway. Dowson’s adamant refusal to bring out the shears became the ultimate seniors’ rebellion.
Interning at the local BBC radio station I helped screen many calls of support for Dowson. For 24 hours he was a national hero, the people’s prince!
Lin(c)s to Sydney
The University of Lincoln plays host to Siren FM, twice voted the East Midland’s community station of the year. Every Friday the journalism students produce their own news program called City Vibe, on which I was fortunate to be a guest reporter. The students take major issues (national and international) and attempt to localise it. We had to ask ourselves, “How does this affect our community, why should we care?”
I found a story that managed to be even more local than I expected when a new exhibition celebrating the life of famed botanist and explorer Sir Joseph Banks was planned. I had no idea his influence reached well beyond the Banksia plant, Bankstown and the Banksia Men who tormented Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. I headed towards The Museum of Lincolnshire Life with a portable recording device swinging from my neck, ready to be educated..
Here is my interview with the Sir Joseph Banks exhibition manager.
Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes
(Or who will guard the guards?)
Macleay College instills in its students the need to question everything. To look beyond the obvious and examine what we (as budding journalists) are shown and told. It was extremely encouraging to find Lincoln is no different. Participating in a number of workshops run by Professor Brian Winston (Emmy award-winning documentary maker) and Dr Sanem Sahin (peace and conflict journalism) was a revelation. Both teachers implored us to open our eyes, to understand that the most innocuous of subjects can yield unexpected gems. But it was made clear that an outsider’s presence can, alone, influence the course of events, implicating the journalist attempting to bear witness.
Knowledge is power, and a journalist’s power can make tyrants tremble.
“We build too many walls and not enough bridges” (Isaac Newton – one of Lincolnshire’s most famous residents)
Studying at Lincoln was a thoroughly rewarding experience, and I feel privileged to have been there. The journey pushed me to be a better writer, communicator and student. Being an ambassador has expanded my professional goals and vastly increased my networking skills. I am excited about what the future holds. – Ali Cheevers