Marina Pedrós: “It’s easier to get started in the audiovisual world in the US than it is in Europe”

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We interviewed third-year Audiovisual Communication student Marina Pedrós, currently on a semester-long exchange programme at Southern Utah University, where she is taking five subjects. We spoke to her about her academic experience and life in America.

Marina Pedrós: “It’s easier to get started in the audiovisual world in the US than it is in Europe”

Marina Pedrós is a third-year Audiovisual Communication student who has decided to cross the pond and embark on an American adventure. Over the course of one semester, she will take five classes at Southern Utah University, where she is discovering a different educational model and a different way of life. We spoke to her about her future ambitions, daily life at an American college and her travels. 

Question: Why did you choose Southern Utah University? 
Answer: I really liked the university, and it was the best match for what I wanted to study.

Q: How is your life there and your life in Barcelona similar?
A: The similarities lie in the individual attention you receive from the lecturers, even though it’s quite a large university. You really get to know your teachers, which is something that reminds me a lot of UIC Barcelona.

Q: What are the most noticeable differences? 
A: Firstly, going from a big city where you can find everything to a small city that hardly has Uber drivers; people don’t look down on you, and they’re always willing to help out. And finally the food. It’s a different lifestyle, and there’s definitely a shortage of high-quality, healthy products. 

Q: In terms of coursework, what classes are you taking at the university? 
A: I’m taking five subjects: Practicum TV Lab, Practicum Radio Lab, Audio Production, Video Production and US Narrative Film. 

Q: What do you like most so far about the American model? 
A: Seeing as I’m studying Audiovisual Communication, a degree that focuses on audiovisual art and creativity, I think it’s great that the American model places so much importance on art, whether its audiovisual, musical, stage or visual. 

Q: How is life on campus?
A: Life on campus is just like in the movies. There are tonnes of activities every day, clubs, different sporting events, etc. Plus, the university has lots of international students.

Q: Would you like to stay and work in the media or at a local company? Where? 
A: The answer is no, I wouldn’t stay and work for any of the media companies here, at least not based on what I’ve seen so far. I’m open to everything, but I prefer the way the media works in Europe. 

Q: In terms of audiovisual communication, what do you think makes this city in particular and the country in general unique?
A: The thing that surprised me the most was how different the work roles are to Europe. For instance, in Spanish television, the director, the “realizador”, the production assistant and technical director are all different people. In the US, the director is what we would call “realizador” in Spain, and the roles of production assistant and technical director are one and the same. It’s not that I’m not used to working like this. We’ve had enough work experience to be able to do the job well. But I prefer how things work over there.  

Another thing that surprised me was how much easier it is to get started in the audiovisual world in the US than it is in Spain or Europe in general. I don’t if it’s due to the importance they give audiovisual communication over there or the number of TV channels and productions, but it’s quite common to start working in the audiovisual world straight out of university. 

Q: Would you recommend the Erasmus+ or exchange experience? Why?
A: The answer is most definitely yes. I’m a firm believer that travelling and discovering new cultures and lifestyles helps you grow as a person, and for me personal growth is crucial to becoming more mature and getting better in day-to-day matters and with the people around you. Taking part in an exchange programme gets you out of your comfort zone and forces you to adapt to different situations like a chameleon, which is ultimately what life is all about. When you travel far from home, you don’t have friends of family nearby to help you with your problems. It’s up to you to deal with them. Even though you always have friends who will support you and a mobile to call home. 

Q: What would you like to work in when you graduate?
A: I’d like to work as a television director. In year two of my degree, we did a workshop on magazine shows, and I ended up taking on the role of director, and I loved it. That’s what I’d like to do in the future, though I’m keeping my options open.

Q: In terms of daily life, where do you usually go after class?
A: It might sound like a lie, but we usually go to the library or our room to study, or to the gym. The idea that Erasmus+ or exchange programmes are all about partying and doing nothing is not true. Truth is, the coursework here is very demanding. But after studying, we have dinner at the cafeteria and often sit around chatting because we don’t want to leave. We also go bowling and for walks.

Q: And lastly, are you taking the chance to travel and visit other cities in the US?
A: Yes, we try and travel, even though the US is more expensive than Europe. So far we’ve been to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Bryce Canyon, Salt Lake City, St George and Zion National Park. Depending on your budget you can travel more or less, but with the amount of work we have it’s difficult to organise a trip. Luckily, Fall Break and Thanksgiving Break are coming up, which, together with the weekends, will give us time to get away.