Gabriella Ditton - International Exchange USA

My name is Gabriella and I study BA Animation at UCA’s Farnham campus. I’ve spent some time studying abroad at Massachusetts College of Art and design (MassArt) in the vibrant city of Boston, USA. It sounds cliché, but this year has truly been the best of my life, and changed me in so many ways. I’ve come out of the Erasmus programme a much more enlightened, accepting and open-minded individual. Studying abroad was an unbelievable experience and there’s nothing that can prepare you for it. You just have to throw yourself into the culture and say ‘Yes’ to every opportunity.

As far as studying Animation goes at MassArt, their programme is completely different to UCA’s. The American university system allows you to choose your own classes, so if you know which direction you want to take your animation career in, you can choose your classes appropriately. This allowed me to take two extra classes in life drawing – something I knew I definitely needed to improve on. These classes were incredibly informative and I learned so much in such a short space of time. We took regular trips to the Museum of Fine Arts, a world famous Museum which I highly recommend. Our life drawing class got a special viewing for the Leonardi DaVinci exhibit where they displayed all original works, which was so inspiring for our Anatomy for Life Drawing class.

There’s a common misconception that you need a lot of money to study abroad, but it’s absolutely not true, and I managed solely on my student loan. I’m glad I didn’t choose the University housing as it gave me a more authentic experience of life as a young person living in Boston. I found a room on Craigslist in Central Boston living with two students from Berklee College of Music and one from Northeastern. I spent most of my time with these girls who were from Mexico, Hong Kong and Massachusetts. I had the chance to experience another side of student life in Boston – I attended jazz concerts, rock concerts and went to lots of open mic nights across the city. I also made a fantastic new group of friends from all over the world.

One of the great appeals of America and particularly Boston is the diverse culture. Boston was the first settlement of immigrants in America, so even though the city is small, it has so much history and people from so many backgrounds. It’s a thriving city and at first this took me out of my comfort zone, but everyone was so supportive and helpful which encouraged me to make the most of the experience and brought out all my best qualities.

Other highlights of my experience include going to my first Baseball game at Fenway Park Stadium; going to the alternative town of Portand, Maine; a fantastic night out in Times Square, New York; exploring the city when blizzard Juno shut down the city; and being a part of the New England Patriots winning the Super Bowl.

I made so many wonderful memories that’ll I’ll carry with me forever.

Gabriella International Exchange USA 2