SOAS University of London

Louise Callaghan

What’s been incredibly helpful is that at SOAS I had a lot of classes with people who came from very different backgrounds to me.

Being a foreign correspondent is the best job in the world. I can’t imagine doing anything else -  you just feel so privileged to be in the places where history is being made, and talking to the people who are making it. You get to know the human stories behind the conflicts and the kinds of changes in the world that are happening and tell them to an audience in the UK.

At SOAS, I met people who ended up becoming useful contacts. Working in the Middle East, it was a huge advantage to have been at SOAS because you make all these connections that you can use later on in life.

What’s been incredibly helpful is that at SOAS I had a lot of classes with people who came from very different backgrounds to me. Particularly, I was in classes with British women who wore the niqab. If I’d have gone to Oxford and studied PPE like so many journalists and politicians did, I doubt that would have happened. At SOAS it was just normal. The conversations I had there helped give me some perspective on why it was that so many British Muslims felt that they had been demonised and discriminated against.

In my last few months at SOAS I got an internship at The Sunday Times foreign desk. I was there for a few weeks and then the foreign desk assistant, who was the most junior person there, quit and I was hired to replace her. What was great about the role was that I was allowed to sit and learn from the correspondents. During the refugee crisis, I started to get sent abroad more to do reporting. I spoke a couple of languages, so that helped persuade the news-desk that I was the right person to write the story.

Now, I’m based in Istanbul but I’m mostly travelling for a story for The Sunday Times. So, that can be Syria, Iraq, or Saudi Arabia. It all depends on where the news is.