Welcome to holiday season in America. Here people go from stuffing themselves full of turkey to preparing to stuff stockings all in the span of less than 48 hours. Christmas music has been playing non-stop since the day after Thanksgiving, which means finals week is just around the corner, followed not long after by Christmas and then all of sudden we’ll be in 2015.

This time of year is all about reflections. Thanksgiving people spend time with family and friends and reflect on what they are thankful for that year. With the end of the semester, students are forced to reflect on their grades and are also confronted by teacher and class evaluations. Then comes Christmas, again a time to spend with family and friends, with the added bonus of presents. Finally, as the new year arrives, people reflect on how quickly 2014 went. They remember the highs and lows of the year and try to make resolutions for themselves, that they will without a doubt uphold during 2015.

This is my final blog post for the semester, so I’m combining all of the above traditions to give you my reflections on being an international reporter.

I’ve found a common theme has run throughout my work this semester – both in blogs and newspaper stories. This has been the integration (or lack thereof) of the international community and the rest of the student body. As the international beat reporter, I feel I had the opportunity to bridge that gap. Part of my responsibility was figuring out what stories I should be writing and how could I make people care about these subject matters.

That’s something I find unrewarding as a reporter: You never really know who is reading your story, how many people and what the majority of them think about it. This can be difficult, particularly if you are writing about something controversial or sensitive. In my situation, I never knew if what I was writing was really reaching the majority of the student body. I knew most of the international students were reading my stories, but that only reaffirms the gap I was trying to bridge.

I love the international community at Allegheny. It is something I have come to be passionate about and therefore writing about it was never arduous, certainly never boring. Although this sounds like a good thing, I feel like I was constantly asking myself whether I was crossing ethical boundaries. I think that this semester I redefined some of these boundaries in order to fit my beat. This is something that I’m still not comfortable with. As a young journalist I want to check all the boxes and hold myself to excruciatingly high standards.

Having said this, I think that being in a constant ethical dilemma has been a great learning experience for myself as a journalist. I have definitely learned one or two things not to do and I feel a lot more comfortable about where ethical boundaries do and should lie. I think that by shifting some of these boundaries, I feel I am a lot more confident and comfortable about where they should be.

I really loved this semester and I would recommend that any future journalists in JOURN320 should consider taking on the international beat. It’s interesting and diverse and you will learn a lot.