Hi, my name is Haydn Loveridge, I am a second year going into my third year studying graphic arts (Motion design) at WSA.

I was given the opportunity to study Communications Design abroad for a semester (April-July 2023) at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Stuttgart, Germany. For a long time, I had wanted to visit Germany as I was meant to undergo an exchange back in school but was unable to due to exams. Upon discovering you can study abroad and hearing the positive experiences of a guest lecturer who also studied in Stuttgart, my heart was set on going. I also knew that it would be the perfect opportunity to immerse myself within another culture, on a deeper level than just learning the language, or going on an excursion.

Before my departure I experienced many emotions. Excitement and curiosity; but also, immense anxiety. I was worried about possible language barriers preventing me from building relationships with my peers, as I had struggled with learning German. I was also aware that I was going to be massively out of my comfort zone, as I had never lived outside of my own country before. But I was soon assured, as I was made to feel very welcome by my classmates and professor, and during my first encounter they offerred me a glass of wine!

During my time at the academy, I underwent many projects. All of which encouraged me to step out of my specialism, and work in a multidisciplinary manner. My favourite project was titled ‘Polymutation’, where I had to explore poetry that surrounded the struggles the author faces with autoimmune disease. I had to base my primary and secondary research on two poems and create monochrome moving digital and static printed responses to the poems.

During my exchange, my professor organised a class trip to Prague. Where we explored the beautiful city and its architecture, and visited design studios, illustration shops and more. The trip was very beneficial, as it enlightened me on the vast array of workflows in studio practice beyond education. It enabled me to hear about the stories of designers, and where they began, this along with work I observed was very inspiring.

The latter part of my time at the academy was heavily focussed on the end of year rundgang. A rundgang is a tour/exhibition of the work produced by the classes at the academy over the course of the current academic year. My role was organising a class shop, where general class projects and personal work was sold. I also contributed towards a class mural, where I painted a design of my own that was reflected on the opposite wall. This area of work further informed me of the realm of exhibition design, and the idea that how things are presented within the space are just as important as the things being presented.

Alongside the academic aspects, while living in Stuttgart, I developed many friendships which gave me opportunities for socialising and exploring the city, and neighbouring towns of Stuttgart. I also got to know what my friends enjoyed during their spare time, and it introduced me to new activities and pastimes.

Overall, this semester was a great opportunity for me. It has educated me on areas within design, that perhaps were not as clear before, and has allowed me to develop on skills both specific to my practice, and general ones for life. It has altered and broadened my perspectives in respect of my degree, and my life, and I will forever value this. For those considering studying abroad I recommend going for it! But to also take this advice:

• Maintain regular communication with family and friends at home. The first few weeks away are daunting, and keeping a good support system close helped me push through these challenging times. The sense of pride and achievement when you finish the exchange makes all the harder times worth it.

• Try your hardest to obtain a visa before your exchange starts! I was unsuccessful in getting one in the UK. Although it is possible to get one while abroad, I wasn’t so lucky, and faced many problems with the German foreigner’s authority. In the end I had to return earlier than anticipated.

• Try and say yes to as many opportunities you get while abroad as you can. If you get asked to go on a trip, go (if you can comfortably afford it of course). If you get asked to a social event, go! It’s a once in a lifetime experience so make the most of your time.

• You may not have connections with everyone you meet while away, and that’s okay. Don’t force a connection or friendship, even if the person is a flatmate, you will find a crowd that you connect effortlessly with eventually.

• Be sure to carry cash. Many places in Germany do not accept contactless or card as frequently as places do in the UK, which caught me off guard may times. Exchanging some cash before you travel is the best option.

• Be sure to set up a German or blocked bank account. Having either of these accounts would have made things much easier for me in terms of rent payments, and obtaining a visa while I was abroad. To obtain a German bank account, you also need a visa.

• Check conversion rates. Prices everywhere at present are going up regardless. But initially, I was caught off guard at how expensive some food could be in Germany and found myself spending much more than usual on weekly shops. It’s good to be prepared for this for better financial management and planning both before and while you’re away.

I hope this was beneficial for you to read and that it helped with your decision on studying abroad 🙂

A semester in Stuttgart

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