What It’s Like To Graduate Abroad

In just a few short days, I will walk across the stage, shake hands with the dean, be handed a blank diploma holder, and put my tassel on the other side. Yes, I am talking about graduation.

Here in America we have certain traditions where we wear special gowns and move are tassels to the other side to signify a step forward. These milestones might also include a large celebration and even some alcohol. As I gear up to enter the real world, I thought it might be interesting to find out how other countries celebrate graduation. Take a look:


Via City University London

UK: According to a commenter on Toytown Germany, graduates also have to wear gowns and they have a ceremony. The parent explains that his/her daughter had a “leaving ceremony where a band played, top pupils received prizes then each school-leaver was handed their certificate.” I would say that sounds very similar to how we celebrate graduation in America.

Norway: There appears to be some interesting traditions at graduations in Norway. In a forum on UniLang, a commenter explained that students take part in a celebration called “russ” that lasts from May 1 to May 17. The interesting thing is that each student wears a different outfit depending on what they have studied. So for instance if you studied only general subjects, you would wear red. However, if you also studied economy your outfit would be blue. This is kind of similar to how we each will have different color tassels depending on what school you’re graduating from here at Mizzou.

Germany: I find it interesting that in Germany, they do not seem to make a big deal out of graduation. In the forum Toytown Germany, another commenter said, “there’s no interest from the Germans to be so grandiose in their educational degreement.” According to this commenter, her husband who graduated from a school in Germany just received his degree, no real fan fare. From what I understand though, Germany takes great pride in its educational system. One would think graduation might be a bigger deal there.

Via Russian World Forums

Via Russian World Forums

Russia: According to blogger for Sparklife, Russian students wear very different attire from what we wear here in America for graduation. Sara Jonsson said girls tend to wear black dresses with aprons. It’s supposed to be “in homage to their Tsarist-era” school uniforms. I honestly might opt for these outfits than the ugly, non-form fitting gown I have to wear on Friday, but I guess that’s neither here nor there. Russian students also line up in front of the whole school, and then leave to party on

Graduation traditions are obviously not just an American way of life. It’s clear many other countries have their own way of celebrating the big day. I am curious what your favorite graduation tradition is?


Journalism Abroad: Mizzou Student Talks European News

I can honestly say I have never been out of the United States. I have been as far north as Maine, far south as Texas and far west as the sandy beaches of California; but never to a different country. However, I have full intentions of going abroad in the next few years. The Europe area tops my list. Not only am I interested in the rich culture, but also enriching my knowledge of journalistic practices in the area.

Adam SmithFor that reason, I turned to a dear friend with some questions about his time in Europe. Meet Adam Smith. He interned in London at the NBC London Bureau. He was lucky enough to actually be there in 2012 when London hosted the Olympics.

Here is an example of some of the news that is done there.

Essentially, the bureau is a subsection of the main NBC headquarters, which is based in the United States. Reporters here focus on London news and other world affairs. Adam said seeing how reporters work in London was an experience he’ll never forget.

Nichole Cartmell: What made you want to study in Europe?

Adam Smith: Europe has always been a really special place to me, England in particular and London specifically. I had spent a week there the summer of 2008 and couldn’t wait to get back.

NC: I know you worked for NBC in its London Bureau. Were the news operations any different then what you had experienced as a producer at KOMU-TV in Columbia?

AS: I had never actually produced while at KOMU and the London bureau is different than a normal newsroom because shows aren’t actually produced from the bureau. The bureau produced a lot of segments for shows like Today or Nightly News. It also served as home-base for NBC’s European-based correspondents and as one of the key newsrooms for NBCNews.com.

NC: At Mizzou you studied convergence journalism. In what ways were reporters there making use of multiplatform reporting?

AS: The biggest thing I noticed was the use of social media. Many of the correspondents were constantly tweeting, updating Facebook, etc. Being a network, the correspondents had the luxury of not having to shoot their own pieces. However, there were a couple times where I was with web/digital producers who shot their own video for web stories.

NC: Generally speaking, is journalism perceived differently in Europe, than it is in the United States?

AS: Journalism, or the news at least, is very much part of daily life. While riding the Underground to/from work, one can always see people reading newspapers of every kind, from the tabloid The Sun to the prim and proper Financial Times. An interesting contrast I noticed is that while in the U.S., opinion journalism is seen more on television (Fox News, MSNBC, etc.) and print is seen as fairer, it is the opposite in the UK. Newspapers proudly show which side they support while broadcast is more balanced.

Now, Adam wasn’t kidding when he said news is a big part of the daily life of people living in London. I found one blogger who has dedicated his entire site to covering everything Charlton, a south-east part of London. It’s a hyperlocal blog with an emphasis on covering news that wasn’t in the mainstream.Adam Smith2

 NC: What news do people in London seem to care most about? Are there any specific things U.S. reporters should focus on when covering news over there?

AS: Londoners are much like Americans in what they like to consume; it’s mainly just a difference in subject matter. There’s certainly a lot of interest in British TV and reality shows, and certainly in sports where soccer reigns supreme. Because London is such an important player in the world economy, finance and business news is extremely important.  And, of course, there’s always politics.

If a U.S. reporter is going to cover London/England, they need to recognize the major differences. Britons are not going to care about baseball or American football. And if covering politics, a working knowledge of parliamentary systems and European Union politics is key. The U.S. is very unique in its political system and the way it’s set up does not carry over to most countries.

 NC: You are now a producer for KOTV in Tulsa. How did studying abroad help strengthen your journalistic practices?

AS: It certainly gave me an even greater appreciation for international/world news than I already. Many Americans are ignorant of the world outside their city or state, let alone their country. It helped me develop in my mind that I have a responsibility to help expand that knowledge.

NC: Journalistically speaking, what experiences in London do you wish you could incorporate to your work now?

AS: It’s certainly a pie-in-the-sky desire for local news, but having the access right there to correspondents to go around the world to report just for us would be awesome. Also, just the access to the incredible locations, comparable to St Paul’s Cathedral or the Olympics and such.

Adam isn’t the only person that I found who enjoyed their time working with NBC in London. Check out what Ithaca College student Nicole Ogrysko had to say about her time there.

Looks like I am definitely going to have to take a trip to London!

Europeans Don’t Get Taco Bell Breakfast

You’re not dreaming.

Taco Bell Breakfast

It’s here.


I can officially say I tried Taco Bell breakfast. I admit, it wasn’t horrible. I wasn’t sick three hours later like I thought I might be.


There’s no doubt, though, there’s been a lot of hype about Taco Bell’s latest attempt to rival other fast food giants. But after seeing the “Breakfast wars” that has started between Taco Bell and McDonald’s…

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 12.58.15 PM

Via Facebook / McDonald’s

… it got me thinking. Are people abroad just as interested in Taco Bell breakfast as American’s are? I mean McDonald’s is everywhere, is Taco Bell?

According to Huffington Post, Canada won’t get Taco Bell breakfast until the country takes Justin Bieber back.


Via Huffington Post

But for people in Europe, they’re pretty much out of luck. Most of Taco Bell’s attempts to take on the world have failed.

According to the Wall Street Journal, that’s because:

“The challenge will be going to countries where Mexican food isn’t popular and persuading customers to try the Americanized version sold at Taco Bell.”

In Greece, Taco Bell withdrew from the market two years after it opened it’s first store there. Pepsico tried opening several Taco Bell locations in Moscow during the early 90s. That venture lasted only a few years, and they now operate under different ownership and a different name. (Via Wikipedia)

There’s none in Germany either. Some locals don’t even know what the chain is. Others say Taco Bell is banned from opening there because of contracts the company has with the U.S. Military. (Via Toytown Germany)

The parent company of Taco Bell, Yum!, has plans to expand to Britain. In fact, the UK was the first European country with a Taco Bell, but most of those locations closed as well.

Via Taco Bell UK

Via Taco Bell UK

There is, however, one in Cyprus that has remained open.

Via Wikimedia Commons / Cyprusnic

Via Wikimedia Commons / Cyprusnic

For now it looks like most Europeans won’t get the chance to try Taco Bell breakfast unless they travel to the states. But no hurry, though! There’s no need to come rushing. You’re not missing out on much.

Pope Drops F-Bomb in Weekly Sermon

If you clicked on this post, then you most definitely fell for a trick of the trade. Let me explain … It’s called getting hits. One of the easiest ways to accomplish that is using a rather catchy headline that doesn’t always tell the whole story.

When it comes to this topic, I certainly wasn’t alone in trying to grab viewer’s attention. The Independent ran this headline:

“He said what?! Pope Francis lets slip the F-word during Vatican address”

 The Week went this route, suggesting there’s a video to accompany the outrageous topic.

“Watch Pope Francis say the F-word (in Italian)”

Headlines and Global News even mentions the reactions others had in its headline.

“Pope Francis Utters the F-Word in Weekly Sermon, Baffles People”

Turns out the story isn’t as crazy as these headlines make it out to seem. Pope Francis apparently made a pretty common mistake. He mispronounced the Italian word for “case” (caso) with the much more explicit cazzo. In Italian that word literally means male genitalia. It’s used with the same context American’s use when they say the F-word. Clearly, those headlines made you think it was all on purpose.

Check it out for yourself.

The Pope is the last person you would expect to hear a curse word from. As posed as possible, you can see in the video how quickly he corrects his mistake. In all honesty it’s not hard to see why the Pope slipped up. The words are fairly similar, especially for someone who isn’t as familiar with the language.

The video has certainly made its way across social media. Most have forgiven the Pope for being human. Some, though, did point out the ironic nature of the Pope saying the f-word.


Looks like accidents really do happen, even by those who we’d least expect. Also, a case where the media can twist things in just a way that keeps viewers on their feet.

Olympics Commercial Says Games Have Always Been Gay

There’s no doubt security was one of the biggest concerns at this years Winter Olympics. However, Russia’s anti-gay policies were likely one of the most widely talked about topics, both before and during the games. But whether Russian President Vladimir Putin likes it or not, some would argue the winter games have always been a little gay.

That’s according to the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion. The organization published this ad to play up the homoerotic nature of the luge.

The 2014 Winter Olympics came under huge scrutiny when Putin passed his anti-gay legislation last year. It bans the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors,” and essentially limits the rights of the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people.

The CEO of CIDI told Global News:

“We like to focus on humour, yet at the same time really send a strong message about the need for inclusive behaviours in something like the Olympic Games.”

The CEO says the response to the video has been overwhelmingly positive. Not to mention, its gone viral with nearly 6 million views.

One blogger from Slovenia wrote:

“Oh, Canada, you’re so diverse and inclusive. I like that about you … Take that, Putin.”

Others, like a writer for Liberty Voice, say the company could’ve gone with a a tune that did a better job of suggesting the “wonderfully gay core of the 80s.” Charles Mudede, a contributing writer for Slog said the following might have been better.

Either way, I think humor is the best way to go when tackling such a sensitive topic. The ad makes you at least chuckle, while highlighting the need for the Olympics to remain inclusive of everyone.

European Food Industry Losing Its Taste

I must confess, I love the thought of European food. It’s elegant, fresh, savory, farm-to-table. Broadly speaking, it’s usually the types of things that American food isn’t. Each country in Europe even has its own distinct cuisine, making it a unique area to dine in. As Americans, we dream about the food there. We base our travel plans on where and what we’re going to eat. I’d say it’s even a craze. I mean check out the video below. It is completely dedicated to different places to eat in Europe and there’s hundred of videos out there just like it.

Right now, Europe’s food and drink industry is the continents largest manufacturing sector in terms of turnover, employment, and value added. But believe it or not, this fantasy us Americans dream about when it comes to European food could actually fade away. According to FoodDrinkEurope, which represents Europe’s food and drink industry, recently published a report that argues the continent might be in danger of ‘losing its competitive edge.’

Click here to see report.

Specifically, the report said, “Despite being a major contributor to Europe’s economy, key competitiveness indicators show that Europe’s food and drink sector is losing its competitive edge.”

That’s because European institutions don’t have policies specifically tailored to the food industry, which means they could lose out to non-EU manufacturers. FoodDrinkEurope urges the removal of barriers to trade, more sustainable food systems, a focus on productivity, and a better promotion of science.

Even local European farmers appear worried. Specifically, they are arguing against a looming US-EU free trade agreement that would allow American farmers to essentially sell lower quality food. The concern here is protecting Europe’s high standards when it comes to the environment and animals.

A member of German environmental group Bund told The Local, “At the moment it’s possible (in Europe) to encourage farmers to raise animals in good conditions and to produce for the local market, but if the free trade agreement goes ahead, we will be subject to the rules of the global market, and the global market doesn’t care about protecting the environment and animals.”

Honestly, I believe the real issue here is staying competitive. Europe, I would imagine, knows that it sits at the top when it comes to food. To protect that prestige, there’s no doubt the EU must find a solution to keeping their goods the best.

However, at the same time, as American’s we also have to make money, which is the reason for the global market. It’s what drives prices and profits. The problem here, then, is finding a way to make both parties happy, which we all know isn’t the easiest of things to do.

Either way, Europe needs to keep its “competitive edge” at least for a few more years so that those of us who have yet to experience it in its authenticity still have a chance to.