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This SPS Student Is Traveling the World While Sheltering in Place

As a first-year student in the M.S. in Strategic Communication at Columbia, Meg Greer, '20SPS, had already learned about the value of being able to pivot. But when the global pandemic scuttled her internship plans and forced her to rethink the months ahead, that lesson in adaptability became especially timely.

“We’ve talked so much about learning to pivot,” she said. “I didn’t realize I was going to have to put it into practice so quickly!”

Like so many who have found inventive ways to connect and build community online while maintaining social distance, Greer has hatched a plan to travel the world while sheltering in place. Part travel blog, part watch party, her project “30 Days of Travel Through Cinema” is a month-long journey through films featuring faraway places (and some nearby).

“It’s been such a discouraging and scary time,” she said. “This gave me something to look forward to.”

The idea for the project came up during a Zoom meeting Greer had with her professor Ethan Pew, Ph.D., in late March. 

“Meg asked if I had thoughts on jobs and internships, given everything had come to a screeching halt,” said Dr. Pew. “She was effectively starting from scratch on summer opportunities. I suggested she might consider a quarantine project—commit to doing something fun and structured that could be a standalone portfolio piece.”

An avid cinephile, Greer immediately proposed a movie marathon. She brainstormed ideas with her professor and others in her cohort, and within a day, she had compiled a list of 30 movies for each day in April—from All the President’s Men (Washington D.C.) and The Hundred-Foot Journey (France/India) to Crazy Rich Asians (Singapore) and Walk Don’t Run (Tokyo). She also committed to researching and writing about each film for her blog, A Vintage Nomad, and sharing the posts via social media. 

We’ve talked so much about learning to pivot. I didn’t realize I was going to have to put it into practice so quickly!

— Meg Greer, '20SPS, M.S. in Strategic Communication

Although the project has been “like taking a fifth class” while she completes the semester online from her mother’s home in Virginia, Greer has found the experience to be wonderfully gratifying—and more communal than she anticipated.

“I didn’t realize it would be something people would join me in doing,” she said. “I think people are happy for the chance to turn off the news and get away from the negativity for a bit.”

To enhance that collective experience, Dr. Pew has organized an online watch party (using the synchronous viewing platform twoseven) for Eat Drink Man Woman (China) on Tuesday, April 28, at 7:00 p.m. EST. (Watch party details will be posted here) The entire project, he said, is a tribute to the Strategic Communication student community.  

“It really points to the fact that we have amazing students like Meg,” Dr. Pew said. “She's driven and tenacious and pulls together concepts across courses to create something interesting and meaningful. As faculty, we offer advice and guidance, but the magic happens when students put it all into action.”

For Greer, the experience has reaffirmed her appreciation for the Columbia Master’s program, from the support and guidance of professors like Dr. Pew and her fellow students to the personal and professional connections she’s made. As she explores career pathways in entertainment, as well as strategy and branding, she plans to continue her coursework online, straight through the summer, and finish in August.

“When I’m done, I know I’ll be at the top of my game,” Greer said. “I feel very well prepared.”

Learn more about the M.S. in Strategic Communication.