Friday, June 7, 2013

London Bound!

Imagine visiting BBC Television Centre in London, or having a glimpse of the Warner Brothers Studios where the Harry Potter movie props are featured.  It was a dream trip for 20 students from the Diploma in Mass Media Management course, which took place in March 2013.

The overseas immersion trip, organised by our lecturer Mr Azhar Abdul Salam, consisted of three glorious days in London and four memorable days in Manchester. It was such an unforgettable experience. Let me tell you why.
At the BBC Television Centre right after touchdown at Heathrow Airport

As soon as we arrived at Heathrow Airport and embarked on our journey to our first destination (BBC Television Centre), it began to snow. Everyone got really excited and we could not wait to walk in the snow. Soon enough, we had our first experience doing precisely that.

The BBC Television Centre in London recently closed its doors to relocate to Manchester and we had the privilege of getting the second last tour around the building before it was officially closed. While most areas in the building were left empty, we still managed to get a sneak peek of some of the important rooms such as the newsroom, dressing room (which accommodated the boy band One Direction during BBC Comic Relief!), studios as well as the area meant for holding props/sets. On the tour, we had two brilliant guides who enlightened us with the history of BBC Television Centre and other significant events that happened there. It felt like having Jeremy Clarkson driving us around in a car for an episode of Top Gear.

While waiting for entry at Warner Bros. Studio Tour

On day two, Mr Azhar scheduled us for a visit to “Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter” in the morning. If you’re a big Harry Potter fan, then this is the place for you! Every single prop, costume, and set used in the Harry Potter movies can be seen here. We even got to see the visual effects behind the brooms, sit together in The Great Hall with Hogwarts characters, and walk across the famous Hogwarts Bridge which got destroyed in the last instalment. This is definitely a step up from the Harry Potter exhibition that was held in Singapore early last year.

Candid poses near the iconic Big Ben during our City Tour

Towards noon, we headed back to central London for a guided tour around the city. We were greeted by our tour guide, Sara, who was incredibly warm and friendly. She had us enraptured when she told us many stories about the iconic places in London and expounded on their history. She even showed us a bank that the Gringotts Bank in the Harry Potter movies was modelled after. As first-time London visitors, we also toured the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, The Big Ben (now known as The Elizabeth Tower), Westminister Abbey and many more attractions. The tour took a total of three hours, which goes to show just how big the central district of London is.

Mass Media Management students checking out the Media Facilities at Middlesex University at London

On day three, we visited Middlesex University, which is also known for its media programme. We were given a tour around the school and an overview of the media faculty. The Dean of Business Studies also shared with us the estimated cost to study there as an international student.

After lunch at one of the school’s canteens, we were led to one of their classrooms where we awaited eagerly for John Dykes, lead presenter for Premier League, and the executive producer of Premier League to arrive. The football fans among us were star struck as soon as both of them appeared. They both gave us an exclusive talk on how the Premier League was produced, discussing production budgets and its success amongst other topics. John Dykes even told us about his journey towards becoming one of the most recognisable faces in the world of football telecasting.
With John Dykes, Lead Presenter for Premier League

We took this in front of Old Trafford Football Stadium, home of Manchester United

Day four was one of the most memorable days for fans of the Manchester United Football Club. Early in the morning, we were all set for Manchester with our first stop being Old Trafford football stadium, the home of Manchester United! Being a person who loves the game, it was most definitely a jaw-dropping experience. Everything was huge and looked amazing. What we saw on TV was finally right in front of our eyes. The Manchester United TV studios were not as grand as we expected. However, it wasn’t a disappointment at all. We felt honoured that we were treated to this exclusive tour around the studios, all thanks to Mr Azhar and his long-time friend who works there.

A group photo in the dressing room of Manchester United Players during the stadium tour

We visited MediaCity UK in Manchester on day five. Mediacity UK is a lot like Singapore’s Mediapolis, created and dedicated to the British media scene. One of the highlights included a guided tour of the University of Salford located within MediaCity UK. Another was the opportunity to participate in BBC’s Red Nose Day production - a day dedicated to collecting donations for Comic Relief, an operating British Charity that raises funds for the poor and disadvantaged. We had so much fun doing the funniest and most random of things. Believe it or not, we had the time of our lives dancing like maniacs to the Harlem Shake with every other BBC staff and even appeared on BBC’s telecast of Red Nose Day that night!

We were down to the last two days in UK and had some free time. So our bus guide, Bernard, recommended and organised a tour for us to Windermere Lake. There, we got to see the beautiful UK countryside filled with rows of shop houses, waddling swans and ducks, and the very exotic Windermere Lake itself. It was freezing cold even though the sun was shining bright that morning and yet, some of us even bought ice-cream!
Having fun at Lake Windermere on our second last day at Manchester

The rest of our free time was spent on shopping and exploring Manchester further. Some of us even hopped on the bus and headed up to Liverpool. This was MY highlight of the trip considering I was a major Liverpool fan! The Liverpool fans in the group even got to tour the Anfield Stadium in Liverpool. The others were given the opportunity to wonder around the waterfront area in Albert Dock, Liverpool.

Seven days felt short and the next thing we knew, we were all squeezing our buys into our luggage. It was definitely both an educational and enjoyable trip. Thank you so much, Mr Azhar. I’m sure the entire group of Mass Media Management students are very grateful to you, for bringing us to these places which most people might never have a chance to visit.

A group photo at the famous London Bridge

By Nur Wahidah Samat, Year 3, Diploma in Mass Media Management

Wahidah is a second year student doing her Diploma in Mass Media Management. She is passionate about writing, travel, food and good music. Her idea of a good time is spending an afternoon with a few friends over a cup of hot chocolate, or watching classic films featuring stars like Audrey Hepburn, Dick Van Dyke, Julie Andrews and so on. Her dream is to travel and have a food adventure around the world.

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