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University of Missouri

Advantage: MU

J-School students are dominating the hard courts in Beijing.

Photo illustration by Blake Dinsdale.

Photo illustration by Blake Dinsdale.

Cram for a month of classes, fly to China in the middle of the semester, work 12 or more hours a day for two weeks, meet tennis superstars Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal, and update your résumé with an eye-popping international journalism experience.

Any takers?

Internship-based study abroad opportunities are increasingly available to students across MU. Jim Scott, director of the International Center, says a majority of study-abroad students now opt for short-term, lower-cost trips that sometimes have an internship component but won’t disrupt a four-year graduation plan.

Several of the programs, including the trip to China, come from the J-School’s Global Programs office, directed by Fritz Cropp, PhD ’96. For the past five years, a journalism professor and a team of about 10 students have traveled to Beijing to write for the English-language website of the China Open, one of the world’s top tennis tournaments that isn’t a Grand Slam.

“It’s every bit as educational as any class could be,” says Trevor Kraus, BA, BJ ’12, a master’s student in journalism who made the trip in 2012. “It’s intensive reporting.”

Before the students leave, they get a crash course on tennis tactics from MU’s tennis team, and Cropp takes them to a local Chinese restaurant to practice eating with chopsticks.

Once there, the students file Web reports on the major action of the day and post several snippets on Chinese social media. Kraus’ team also started a daily podcast.

Journalism Associate Professor Jeanne Abbott, BA, BJ ’67, MA ’69, PhD ’88, led teams the first two years of the program. She says the first year was a trial run for both sides. “They weren’t sure what we were capable of,” Abbott says. “Trying to sort out our role was an everyday act of diplomacy.”

Kraus has grown from the experience. “Travel is the best education anyone can have,” he says. “You learn more about yourself in an unfamiliar environment than in any classroom.”

J-School students travel all over the world. Read about Varvara Fomina’s experience covering a United Nations summit in Vienna.