Settling down: post-second year thoughts

It still feels like yesterday when I finished my last assignment for my second year at Birmingham City University, which started the final four-month break that I have before the third year grind begins. Looking back at second year, its safe to say that its made me into a more complete iteration of myself and I’m still hungry to improve in so many areas that need a bit of smoothing out.

I must say before I get onto the cream in the cake, this is a reflective piece, compared to other posts I have done here on my blog. Here’s the three main points that I have taken out of my second year at BCU.


From first year, I had made a lot of friends on the BA (Hons) – Media and Communication (Journalism) degree course, which was great as it allowed me to settle down quickly into university life. Whilst I may have very limited contact with some of my first year friends now, second year was the ‘coming of age’ moment where I started to grow as a person.

Friendships are a key part of my university life because if it was not for the BCUSU Sabbatical Team, BCUSU and School of Media who put up with me every day, I would have found second year a war for attrition. Having a network of friendship circles allowed me to speak to existing friends, as well as new friends that I would have never imagined of having because of the things I contributed towards outside of my university studies.

Whilst I may have lost a few friends along the way, it’s fair to say, I have gained far more friends than I expected to have this university year.

Development as a Media Professional and Journalist

This is the biggest area I’ve grown upon apart from the friendships I have developed in second year, and I say this is mostly down to the fact that in my journalism production modules such as Live Newsroom, Broadcast Journalism and Specialist Reporting, they have enabled me to develop my current skillset whilst picking up new skills that are relevant towards the future of the industry.

The two inspirations behind my drive to become a better journalist have been the Editor of Lichfield Live, Ross Hawkes and the Editor of the Online Journalism Blog, Paul Bradshaw. Both have played an integral part towards improving my journalism work to the point where there is a huge leap in quality of my writing and content creation from first year to now.  I’m finding data journalism to be a real niche in my genres of journalism that I have taken which includes motor racing, politics, sport, news and many more!

Also, doing Designing With Data, which was a big risk in the second semester of second year was a really good learning curve for me because I had learned so many web development and data narrative skills, all thanks to Nick Moreton. I thoroughly recommend checking Nick’s CodePen and his portfolio website While I did okay in the module, I have picked up so many skills for which I can improve on over the summer break for building websites in my spare time.

There have been so many things that I have improved as a media professional in second year not just from production, but from the theory modules such as Journalism in Context with Dave Harte and Fandoms, Subcultures and Cult Media with Hazel Collie that have allowed me to research areas of the media industry that I’m interested in. This has also translated into my production work which I’m able to use what I’ve learned in research and put it into practice in a professional media environment.

Being happy accepting that people are different

I struggled with being able to feel comfortable with people and friends that are different to me in terms of interests and the way that they came across to me. Right now, I don’t have that problem due to the fact that I have accepted my friends and the people that I work with are different to me, but it doesn’t define myself or them because at the end of the day, come rain or shine, its how I maximise the day with the people I’m with is what counts.

This has helped me to become a lot more calmer and at peace with myself (not that I already am writing this piece now!). Its helped me to become more comfortable in the way that I can express things to other people and my friends whether they agree or disagree with me, at the end of the day, its an viewpoint from another person.

Overall, second year has been the best year of my university life yet. I could thank so many people, but there would be too many names that I would have to thank so I’ve kept it relatively short! Thank you everyone for making second year a memorable one for me.

If you have any memorable moments in your second year at university, I would love you to mention them to me on Twitter please @umarjourno.

Thank you guys and girls!

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