Aundrea Murray on Studying Journalism Abroad in Paris

Moments before seeing the Mona Lisa painting in Paris, France at the Louvre 

The Interview Armoire is a series where we feature fellow urbanistas who have a special story to share. These women have exciting travel tales and/or interesting takes on making the most of her city. There's something that shines about these savvy civilians, and we hope PBU sheds light on how they stand out.

Aundrea Murray of Aundrama.com is a Central Connecticut State University student from Hartford, Connecticut, majoring in broadcast journalism. Aundrea has honed in on her journalism skills by reporting on a variety of topics, including an exclusive D-Day anniversary ceremony and a personal piece on poverty. She considers herself a ‘lazy poet, early photographer, and iPhone videographer,’ who hopes to trail blaze her own path as a traveling journalist. She plans to one day work for a stationed network like CNN, covering foreign news, and maybe even create her own network in the future! 

We were very excited to chat with the very impassioned Aundrea about her recent two week study abroad program in France, where she had the opportunity to study and practice her craft in Paris and Normandy. She’s usually the one conducting the interviews, but we loved being the ones asking her the questions to learn about her fun trip. We are all for studying abroad, and it’s that much more life-changing when you’re able to pursue your passion all the while basking in an amazing international environment.  

Read more about Aundrea, her Parisian experience, and how she raised money to make this trip possible below:

Notre-Dame in Paris, France


Kristen @ PBU: If you had 15 seconds (or one paragraph) to introduce the world to Aundrea, what would you say?

AM: Hmm. I’m a walking contradiction. What scares me motivates me...What inspires me often makes me anxious because I can't help but to think big. The bigger the risk, the bigger the chance, the bigger the opportunity, the bigger the possibilities. I'm vulnerable (lol). And I enjoy that as a writer and as a journalist.

Was this study abroad program through your university? What aspect of journalism was it geared toward?

Yes, it was through my university. I've traveled with the same school to Beijing, Jinan and Hong Kong, China last spring. I did a lot of impromptu writing [during that trip] just off of inspiration. But this time around, I was invited to listen to President Obama speak in Normandy. It's safe to assume that everyone would want to see him over just reading about him, so I just focused on purely broadcast coverage.

Reported at the 70th D-Day Anniversary in Normandy, France. (President Obama was present!) 

Wow, so you got to learn directly from the President himself! How did you balance your time spent working and learning with adventuring around Paris and having fun?

I made so many bucket lists! Every night before bed, I would just stay up thinking about monumental things I had to see, like the Mona Lisa. I also thought about how I could potentially turn things into a story. Everything to me is pretty much a story to share, haha. I'll always want to learn something fun and share it with the world.

Like one night, we took shots lit completely on fire and watched the bartenders dance half-nude (male and females). Crazy -- but something to share.

Taxis drivers were also striking in Paris during my stay. So I've had a few "drunk" interviews after bar hopping. It was all intriguing.

How would you describe the essence of the city? Did it live up to your expectations?

Paris felt like a European New York City to me! And I loveee NYC for its traditions like hot dogs, Brooklyn pizza and an active nightlife. Paris is the absolute same! Except there's Evian water bottles and macaroons... And tons of wine! A very liberal city.

What were three of the most fascinating sights/explorations you experienced there?

1) Moulin Rouge. It blew my mind. Nothing like the film simply because it was SO MUCH BETTER. Similar to a Broadway play, except everyone was just tastefully naked. Awesome lol.

2) The Eiffel Tower. It's literally smack dab in the center of the city where people drive past it on their way to work like it's no big deal at all. But it's huge! So just being able to see it everywhere I went was insane. At night, it lights up and sparkles. You can meet so many international people on the Eiffel Tower lawn.

3) The subway. There was the largest collection of cultures and races all going the same places. I found it fascinating..

Watching the Eiffel Tower light up on the last night of our trip. Paris, France. 

I always find it fascinating as well to see so many different types of people in one place, and how easy it can be to strike up conversations with them. What was something interesting you learned about European life while immersed in it?

The most interesting thing about European life is definitely how focused on art they are. Nearly everything about their culture revolves around artistry and so much abstract beauty. It makes them appear more open-minded and accepting of differing races and ideas.

How did you fund your trip?

My trip cost a total of $2800. I earned $1000 worth of scholarships, contributed around $1200 out of pocket and raised over $500 in donations through GoFundMe.com. I was open and honest with my social media followers, family, and friends about my ambitions to study in France. Everyone was very supportive. In the 3 weeks that I held the fund, enough money was raised to pay for the trip. A lot of donators were people I have never even met! I bought every one of my contributors a souvenir from Paris. 

In what ways did this program enhance your skills as a budding broadcast journalist? 

Studying abroad made me learn how important it is as a journalist to TAKE OPPORTUNITIES. While overseas, everything around you is a potential story and not being able to key into that could ultimately hurt you and your craft. 

Visiting Mont Saint-Michel in Brittany, France 

Head over to Aundrama.com to check out her entire portfolio and to read/see more about her journey as a student journalist. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @_aundrama.

Have you studied abroad? What program did you study, and in which country? Share with us in the comments below or get in touch to be featured on PBU. 

Kristen Noelle

I consider myself a softly eccentric urbanista. I’m quiet by nature, and I’ve generally always had a mellow laid-back vibe. However, when it comes to my preferences for fun, my style, and my overall thought process, I get a bit more eccentric. I like stepping out of the box of normalcy -- but without forcing anything. I’m a thrill junkie and I live for things that get my adrenaline pumping, such as riding on top of party buses in New York City and hanging off of skyscrapers in Vegas. I spring for bold hues, colorful prints and patterns, and a relaxed look that gives effortless-chic. I like exploring new places and capturing exciting sites. I’m a creative, with a million different ideas running through my mind each day. Whether I’m designing waistbeads, imagining up new clothing concepts, envisioning my next business venture, or planning my next adventure abroad, I’m always thinking of how I can create something great. Being raised in the suburbs but not far from the city and constantly traveling, I developed a love for the best of worlds. The calm and the crazy. The easy-going and the always-buzzing. The soft and the eccentric.