Former Centurion Editor Hal Conte is Now a Fulbright Scholar in England

Hal+Conte

Hal Conte

Hal Conte , Guest writer

At first glance, it’s a sight that might not seem out of place in Bucks County — exquisite foliage, enthusiastic groups of students, and a pleasant climate But look around and things appear off. 

Cars are driving on the wrong side of the road, people are carrying bags with the names of strange grocery stores such as “Waitrose” and “M&S”, and measurements are in kilometres, not miles. 

Open your ears and hear the chatter and it’s obvious you are far afield. Since October, I’ve been attending the University of Warwick in the Midlands of the United Kingdom, seeking to obtain a master’s degree in Global Media and Communication. 

Although it’s half a world away from Bucks County Community College, my eventual journey here began as a Centurion editor, when on a trip to the Keystone journalism awards, another alumni of the paper told me they were planning to study abroad in the U.K. after transferring to Temple. 

As soon as I heard about this possibility, I was hooked. After attending Temple and studying abroad in London during the summer of 2019, my obsession was only redoubled. 

I planned to return to the U.K. as soon as possible, but had to acknowledge the likely financial burden of doing so. Almost as an afterthought, I attended a Fellowship Advising session at Temple in February 2020. 

Seeing a group of professional, intimidating graduate students discuss their applications, both successful and unsuccessful, to the Fulbright, Marshall, and Gates scholarship, I figured I might theoretically make a go at an application just to say I tried, but probably would never do so given the limited time in my schedule. 

Like a twisted genie, coronavirus lockdowns arrived just weeks later, depriving me of my remaining in-person undergraduate education — but also granting me time to prepare a Fulbright application, which, with the help of fellowship advisor Dr. Barbara Gorka, I submitted in October 2020, just days prior to securing a job at Gannet’s Lebanon Daily News. 

To my surprise and delight, I learned that I was accepted as a finalist in April of the following year, and set off for the U.K. again in September. Classes here are high-stakes and challenging — some professors base their entire grade on a single essay — and some elements remain online. 

But for the most part, education has taken place in-person, mask-free, and among a cohort of interesting students just as international as I am. My classmates include citizens of Russia, South Korea, China, India, Hong Kong, and more.  

As a former Centurion editor, I’ve gotten involved with student media — I am finance editor at the Boar and editor-in-chief of the Globalist – and my skills in InDesign and other Adobe programs have been invaluable in securing the position and laying out each issue. 

Coventry, the city nearest to the University of Warwick, is smaller than Philadelphia, but much safer and is the U.K.’s 2021 City of Culture.There have been many art galleries, book talks, and other events worth attending. 

 A train trip to London and back is roughly equivalent to $50, and I’ve been in and out three or four times so far, seeing Hamlet at the Globe Theatre, visiting the British Library and Tate Modern, and walking up and down High Street in Kensington during the Christmas season, marvelling at the abundance of fashionable goods on sale, and their eye-watering price. 

 I plan to return to the U.S. at some point and obtain a PhD, but I’m not sure when that might be. I started my journey hooked on a rumour, but living here has proved even more addictive. It might in part be the tea, but it goes beyond that.