As I’ve been on Erasmus, many of my classmates have also been on Erasmus or working in industry. I have been keeping up with their blogs to see what they’ve been up to. As CU requires I write a post where I compare other blogs I felt I should also pay attention to other student’s blogs who I don’t know to see how they have experienced living in another country or working in industry. To my surprise, even though the blogs I have looked at from students who are living in completely different places to me, there are universal experiences we all share.
One blog, which I felt I could really connect with, was by Kipras Varanavicius; a Media Production student from CU, who has been studying Fine Art in the Netherlands. I immediately found similarities between his blog and mine, we both travelled to another country to study Fine Art; something different from what we study at home. Kipras also uses his photography on his blog to explore and document his experiences, a creative process that I also use. Kipras explains his initial struggles with the teaching styles of his new University, struggles that I too faced. It is a shock to the system coming from Coventry University, with its well-structured teaching methods, to a completely experimental way of teaching. Like Kipras, I was also encouraged to try other mediums in art. My teachers were frustrated with me from just creating images, so I was somewhat forced to try painting and drawing etc. However, I am very grateful I was pushed out of my comfort zone and to go against my usual way of working. At first I was daunted with trying other mediums of art because I felt I was not good enough, however I have now learned that this year is a year for experimenting and trying new things. I learnt new skills and new lessons and more about the art I was creating. I feel Kipras has also benefitted from experimenting with other ways of working, especially in his ‘performance’ modules - encouraging him to think differently about art.
Another blog I have been keeping up with is Milo Lethorn’s, he is a friend/course friend of mine and we both study Photography together at CU. I have been following his weekly vlogs, I found it really useful to visually see him documenting his time and get a true sense of his Erasmus experience. Milo is studying Film studies at Karlstad University in Sweden, (a University I originally applied for that unfortunately didn't work out through no fault of my own) so I have been living my what-could-have-been thoughts through Milo’s blog. In retrospect, I am fortunate now that I had the chance to study in Lapland, but I can’t hide my initial gutted-ness from not being able to study at Karlstad. As Milo and myself study in somewhat similar climates and landscapes (meaning we have seen a lot of snow) our images are so different even though we have been photographing a similar subject matter. We have both created personal bodies of work that reflect our new environment and it is interesting to see how we have conceptually created these works. We have both had similar experiences with living in accommodation that is shared only with other international students. It is interesting that all of us students together have collectively tried to figure out how to live in a new place and experience a new culture; forming an ‘international family’ where everyone looks out for each other.
The final blog I would like to discuss is by Tara Rutledge, a Media Production student at CU. Tara decided to do a year in industry as a freelance photographer/videographer in Coventry. I thought it would be interesting to see the difference between undergoing a study year abroad versus a year working in industry from a photography perspective. From reading her blog it is clear that Tara has gained a lot of confidence by working in industry as she has been able to ‘try out’ work she might like to do in the future, due to this she now has a clearer idea on where to go with her career after graduation. I chose to go on Erasmus because I felt I wasn’t ready to go into the working world just yet, but I can definitely see the benefits and skills Tara has gained by working freelance. However, I believe I have gained other skills through traveling and experiencing another culture, as well as photographing in a completely different environment. Although Tara’s experiences and mine have been completely different, we have become more confident in our artistic practice and have learned more about what we want to do after graduation as well as gaining appropriate skills for our chosen line of work.