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International Exchanges

Fine Art at the University of Chichester has international exchange links with Thompson Rivers University, Canada and Ecole Regional des Beaux Artes in Valence, France.

Here at the University of Chichester, there are opportunities in many of our subject areas to spend time abroad whilst studying for your degree. The University of Chichester offers students the opportunity to go on exchange either under the Erasmus Programme to countries that are members of the European Union, or as an international exchange to countries outside of the European Union. The University of Chichester holds an Erasmus Extended University Charter.

Ruth Bridgman-Fin Art Erasmus exchange student to Thomson Rivers University in Canada, September 2010 - May 2011:

Going on an Exchange Programme is the greatest experience. Canada for me proved so exciting; meeting international students from over 70 different countries and studying in a different system was very challenging. Canadian hospitality was tremendous! I was taken to sporting events; snow sports of every kind just 3/4 hour away and it was great to be able to spend time using all the Olympic facilities they had at Thompson Rivers University. I would definitely recommend it to everyone, it can change your life forever!

Studying in Canada has broadened my art practice considerably. Experiencing different teaching methods was exciting and productive. I now approach my art with a more organized study programme; I’m more focused and so and really beginning to achieve my aim to produce interesting and vibrant pieces of art.

The West Coast of British Columbia has a very lively, vibrant group of artists. Canadians seem to look mostly at art from Canada and North America, less on European art, a contrast that relates to the vast distance between North America and Europe.

Freya Holdsworth – Fine Art Erasmus exchange student to Valence (France), January - May 2010:

Who would not want to get a feel for another culture, language and location, while at the same time continuing their studies in a place offering new influences and diverse students? Erasmus offers this opportunity that many students seem to ignore too quickly, possibly afraid of the major change and adjustment involved, or maybe just too busy getting on with their degree at their home university. However, they are not realising the huge number of benefits that taking part involves and how much it progresses not only their studies, but also their self confidence and general life experience.

The first point has to be the people: out in another country you get to meet different kinds of people who you might not come across in the UK. And although it is difficult to get into the social scene at first, the people and social life that comes out of it more than makes up for a few challenging weeks. You will find that there will always be friendly, interesting people who want to help you out, even by speaking English at first if you are studying in another language. Personally, the people were the most important part of my exchange and meant that what would have been an inspiring and fascinating experience also became amazingly social and fun; Valence, a superficially unexciting French city, was filled with parties and social events that made it seem alive with activity.

In addition, studying in a new institution can give you a different perspective to the work you are producing. As I am a Fine Art student the Ecole des Beaux Arts was the perfect place to gain insight into international artists’ work and to benefit from another education system. Whether you study in English or another language, it will encourage you to find extra approaches to the way you involve yourself in your studies: research, essays or practical work. It is also fascinating to see how your subject is explored in other cultures compared to the UK.

The culture, of course, is strongly linked to the language and this is another interesting topic. Spending a year, or even just a semester, surrounded by a different language will almost force you to learn it! As long as you get out there and make the effort to speak it, it is entirely possible to pick up a new language even if you only know a few words and sentences at the beginning. This is exactly what happened to me: I went to France with minimal knowledge of the language and by the end of the semester, I was happily having in depth conversations in French. On the other hand, if you are already skilled in a language it is a chance to learn all of the informal words and phrases that young people use and therefore learn a new side of the language.

It is also a new way of experiencing a culture: in contrast to a holiday or travelling you really get to know a place and the people.  An Erasmus exchange is a really important experience for anyone hoping to live in another country in the future, because you get used to calling a new culture ‘home’ in the learning environment that is familiar as a student. In this way everything you have experienced growing up is challenged and it forces you to be more open minded and to question the world around you. If you enjoy travelling, then take advantage of being in a new place and take weekends off or use your holidays to explore more of the country you are in.

It is also a time of personal development and I see this experience as having influenced me in too many ways to describe. The initial shock of being somewhere completely different and isolated from friends and family forces you to be emotionally strong and independent. The first week is not easy but after working through that challenge it becomes the most rewarding experience: the place, the people, the new language, a different world that you never really connected to before suddenly becomes your entire life. It was a new life that I never wanted to leave.

I believe that every student should seriously consider taking part in an Erasmus exchange as it is such a powerful experience that you will remember for the rest of your life. You make strong friends who you can visit afterwards and it creates a desire to understand other cultures, which motivates you in other aspects of your life. Nothing in your current life should get in the way, because you will come back to your friends and family later on, and Erasmus provides a very useful grant that can help cover the extra costs of relocating. Even though I was terrified during the months leading up to the exchange I am so glad that I was determined enough to overcome that fear because I would have seriously regretted it had I not gone; and with good reason! Erasmus really is an ‘Erasmust’.