Oh Yeah, That School Thing.

Going abroad is quite an experience. It is, however, grounded by that one thing that actually got you here in the first place — school. Living in a foreign country and traveling may be the most exciting aspect to studying abroad, but there is still work to be done. Up until this point in my blog, I have really neglected to talk about anything school-related, so here I go.

I am about a month and a half into my stay here, and the schoolwork is coming in at full force. While preparing to go abroad, I heard many times that the teaching style in Europe is very different, and that final grades are often determined by a single exam or paper. This is true in many cases, but my field of study dictates something much different. I am taking three design modules (what we call classes) that are largely computer based. At Richmond, they are transferring in as Studio Art credits. In these type of classes, work is constantly due. Whether it be sketches, print-outs, or final pieces, the module coordinators (or professors) keep you working. In this case, final grades are earned from turning in all revised coursework at the end of the semester. I like this method of teaching because, after a critique, I am able to apply changes to the final product that is turned in.

One fault I have with the university system here is that classes only meet once a week for about 4 hours. The idea is to give students ample time for independent work, but I would much rather learn from a professor and gain experience in the classroom. This is part of studying abroad, though — learning different ways of doing something.

Although the classes are set up differently, I am finding them extremely interesting and beneficial. I am learning computer programs that I probably wouldn’t have used back at Richmond. In my Animation course, we are learning to animate scenes using Adobe Flash. When we get further along with the course, I will post an animated video on my blog. I am also taking a Graphic Design module in which we use InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator quite a bit. This week we critiqued a poster design brief (what we call a project). Here is a picture of my class’s posters:

My most challenging class is 3D modeling. We are learning a program called 3D Studio Max. Designers use it for character and product design. Imagine a scene in a video game — it was probably created in this program, or a program like it. It is engaging material, but definitely a little more difficult to understand. I still have over a month until my final projects are due, so I think I will get a handle on it!

I have been spending a lot of time in the Learning Resource Center (basically a library — reminds me of exam week last year!) to get work done. My advice would be to get most of your work done during the week so you are free to explore during the weekends! I made sure to get everything done this week because Halloween is Monday, and they do Halloween big here — I’m talking thousands of people, costumes, parades, and fireworks. My next post will definitely be about this event!

Fun Fact #7: While living here in Derry, I have learned that people are not expected to tip. You don’t tip taxi drivers, you don’t tip waitresses, and you don’t tip at the bar. I have to say that I am a fan of this cultural difference!

Fun Fact #8: Shelled peanuts are called monkey nuts. People generally don’t eat peanut butter although it is sold in stores (doesn’t taste the same as good ol’ Jiff). Jell-O is called jelly. Jelly is called jam. And most people haven’t heard of a PB&J.

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