Way back in September 2016, a new group of fresh-faced fashion journalism students started out with Fashion North and their three-year journey learning about trend forecasting, street style photography, social media and much, much more.
Today, they enjoyed their last-ever fashion newsday in our University of Sunderland MediaHub as they’ll now be concentrating on making their own bespoke fashion magazines and websites as part of their degrees with us, as well as going on placements at places like Fabulous magazine and Next.
Their journey has taken them from a Welcome Week trip to see the Shoes: pleasure and pain exhibition at Bowes museum, County Durham, (pictured) through visits to the Vogue 100 exhibition in Manchester and one to York to see Vivienne Westwood’s shoe collection.
And let’s not forget the hours spent in lectures and workshops on styling, podcasting, interviewing, video journalism and memoir-writing along the way.
To reflect on their adventures here at Sunderland, our third year students have penned open letters to their 2016 selves as freshers. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house! Read on – if you have a packet of tissues handy!
And come back in July to see the obligatory Boomerang shots of them throwing their graduation caps in the air!
If you want to be one of the new September 2019 freshers writing a letter like this in December 2022, you can read all about our course here.
Dear my Fresher self,
It may not seem like it right now, but your uni experience is going to fly by and before you know it you’ll be starting your practical project and looking for your third year placement. While you might feel a bit overwhelmed right now with living away from home, struggling to find sources for your stories, missing the dogs and your family and trying to keep a balance with everything in your life, you can do it. Not only that, but you won’t fail at anything and you’ll often do better than you ever thought you could.
You’ll soon realise everyone around you is there to help you to reach your full potential. People will ignore you but you’ll learn to be persistent. With Carole’s help, you’ll learn that picking up the phone and talking to people is the best way to get them. You’ll learn to be a real journalist and you’ll feel like one in the media hub and out there in the real world. You’ll meet amazing people in the industry on your hunt for sources who will help you get the firsts and 2:1s you’ve worked so hard for. But the best people you’ll meet are around you right now – your Fashion North family.
You’ll realise the world we live in is digital and you’ll show your knowledge in photography, video, info maps and podcasts. You’ll realise that you shine when writing features for Fashion North and that becoming the Features Editor and producing content is so rewarding. After your first year, you’ll start to be less daunted by the experience and say ‘yes’ to more opportunities. Shorthand might bring you down a bit and 100wpm at NCTJ will challenge you a lot but your determination will get you through it all.
You’ll learn that being upset or annoyed isn’t a bad thing and that there’s always someone who will listen to you. You’ll never stop fighting and always love the sense of relief you get when your grade comes in. You’ll start to embrace who you are and while some people will come in and out of your life throughout the experience, you’ll become so much more independent and confident.
Before you know it, you’ll be a journalist.
Your third year self, Faye x
Dear younger me,
You’ve been through a lot, but you finally made it to University. For so long you believed that you’d never make it because life kept holding you back. You’ll think about the day you applied to Sunderland every day, because it’s the day that changed your life. It’s the day you decided you wanted a career and not just a job and it’s the day you decided to finally start living because life had held you back long enough.
University will be a roller coaster of emotions, you will laugh, and you will cry. You will meet people who turn out not to be so great and as a result you’ll retreat into yourself and put up a lot of walls. It’s easy to push those around you away when you’re feeling hurt, but don’t take it out on the ones that haven’t hurt you. You’ll find friendship in the most unlikely of people and they will remind you what goodness looks like. They will remind you that you are a good person and you’ll start to let down those walls again.
Academically, don’t be afraid of the work load. I know you’re someone who can’t make a phone call without getting an anxiety attack right now but trust me by third year you’ll be doing interviews on the phone like they’re no big deal. University will prepare you in so many ways, for so many things that whether you leave to become a fashion journalist, PR or whatever, you’ll be ready to do it and succeed at it no matter what.
At the beginning of third year I noticed an immediate change in who I was as a person, becoming Editor of Fashion North, starting my practical project and leaving for my placement at The Sun with their Fashion Desk, all of it has given me the confidence and the ability to feel like I can take on the world. It was the strangest feeling, I came back from London and I was different, I could talk to strangers without being nervous and I could make phone calls without having a panic attack. I had seen my future and I wanted it. I still want it, so badly and I know I am willing to do anything I have to, to get there and one day you’ll feel like that too.
So, younger Candice, you’ve just started University, you’re scared, nervous and have no idea what to expect. I have just given you the tiniest glimpse into your future, the light at the end of the tunnel.
To my fresher self,
You may be sitting there petrified and crying at the thought of stepping out of your comfort zone. As a little 18-year-old fresher about to embark on a huge journey, trust me, it will all be okay and you will have an amazing time.
The next three years of your life will hands-down be the hardest, scariest, toughest years of your life, but at the same time, they will be filled with fun, friends and an awful lot of coffee.
I know that the thought of stepping out of your comfort zone makes you feel slightly sick, but this journey will teach you that you’re only human. It’s completely normal to be anxious and nervous, because if anything, the anxiousness and nervousness is also excitement. The first time you step into a Fashion North meeting or your first lecture, you will feel all kinds of emotions… do I fit in? am I doing okay? will I make friends? But these feelings do go away and the normality of university starts to kick in.
Throughout the three years, you will make friends for life, and those friends will help you get through the tough days and the stresses because you will all be in the same boat and will help each other as best you can.
You will also cry with laughter and have the time of your life. So, don’t stress too much at the thought.
You will learn so many skills you didn’t think you could learn and it’s all a massive part of pushing yourself to be the best at the job that you can be. You will go into your first year with basically no clue how to write an article, record video or do a street style, but you will come out on the other end in third year with practically every skill you never thought you would be good at. You will openly ask strangers their opinions on things, happily do street styles and have the confidence you’ve always wanted.
Last but not least, take every opportunity that is thrown at you. If you want to sign your name up for something, do it. If there’s a question you need to ask, ask it. Don’t be afraid because it will only help you. No one is scary and everyone is willing to help you out.
Love from the 20-year-old third-year Kheira.
Dear Fresher Me,
First and foremost, make the most out of first year; especially semester one. If I could go back to one part of my university experience it would be semester one of first year so go out, spend money, enjoy time with your new-found friends and don’t stress!
Second year will be the hardest year of your life for several reasons. Try to see the positives in the small things and understand that everything is temporary, and nothing ever needs to be forever if you don’t want it to be. You’ll come out of second year closer to people that you’ve known for two years rather than people you’ve known for over ten years and that’s okay!
At the time you won’t be able to see the end but now looking back you made so many amazing memories. You’ve learnt so many life lessons and although things might’ve been cruel, in time you’ll understand why things had to happen.
You’ll come to the realisation that moving hundreds of miles away from home wasn’t perhaps the best move and home is where the heart is. When all you want to do is go home and you can’t, you need to surround yourself with your little uni family and watch stupid things like Embarrassing Bodies at 2am in the morning.
Although, yes, you’ll not look any different and still look like a 16-year-old, you’ll have changed so much. If I could tell you everything that you’ve been through, friends you’ve lost, friends you’ve gained, how much closer you’ve become with your parents and how much you’d cherish being at home you’d think I’d be having you on.
I’m so proud of how far you’ve come, even when things get tough you keep going and never give up (always take that mentality with you wherever you end up next). Finally, to sum up your university experience: everything happens for a reason.
Dear fresher self,
You’re most likely sitting at home anxious and nervous about the next three years of your life. Whoever thought you’d be here, ready to start your Fashion Journalism degree.
These three years are going to fly by, cliché right? But trust me; your time at the University of Sunderland will be over before you even know it. You’ll learn so much you never thought you could ever learn and gain confidence you never even knew you had.
Just think if you didn’t apply for the Fashion Journalism course at Sunderland University in 2016, you would have never crossed paths with some of the amazing friends for life that you’re about to meet.
The endless Starbucks trips ordering your newfound favourite gingerbread hot chocolates will get you through the hard and stressful times, but I promise it will all be worth it. You’ll be taught skills such as catwalk reporting, podcasting, media law and many other skills which will all help towards your journalism career.
Yes, it’s scary and, yes, you don’t feel ready but everyone around you is willing to help and you’ll learn this very quickly, so believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It will be stressful and hard throughout your time here but the sense of relief when you get your grades back, outweighs the tough times.
As nerve-wracking as it is, push yourself out of your comfort zone, ask questions, pitch ideas, sign up to things you’d never thought of doing, but most importantly have fun!
You’ve got this!
Your third year self,
Congratulations, you have made it girl! All of that hard work and dedication has paid off.
Are you ready for the most hard-working years of your life but also making your best university memories making friends that you will have for life and going out and enjoying a few too many cocktails waking up hungover and having to go to 9ams? Haha.
Your first news day will be scary stepping into a whole different environment full of what seem scary people but trust me everyone is so lovely and you will enjoy spending your time in the MediaHUB doing your work and working on fashion articles for Fashion North.
It is a big time in your life make sure you grab every opportunity while at university: go on those trips, do that extra work while you can, as next thing you know, you will be finished and graduating. So scary !!
Just know that all of this hard work to get to university is amazing and you should be proud of yourself. There will be tears and tantrums but everything will be ok and worth it when you finish with a degree.
Love from your third year self Erin xxx