There is a common saying: ‘Travel broadens one's mind’, and I am in support of this theory. Through my time abroad in Poland I gained knowledge I could not have obtained in the comfort of my everyday surrounding. When you witness and submerge yourself in a foreign culture you become aware of your own. As humans we are a creatures of habits, every day follows a particular pattern which we come to recognise as normal. When we strip ourselves of that normality and replace it with things that intimidate us, we become more aware and curious of our surroundings.
In my travels I have had the opportunity to meet people from various backgrounds, each with their own views, ideas, opinions and skills. I had the opportunity to learn and develop my skills under a well-known Polish poster artist, Roman Kalarus, who encouraged me to think in an abstract way and to loosen up with my work. This, for me, opened up a whole new way to approach my work. I am currently studying Illustration however, through the exchange student programme, I got the opportunity to explore other fields in art, such as Calligraphy, Graphics, Printmaking and Fine Art. Now I am able to transfer what I have learned from these classes and incorporate it into my current work. Surrounding yourself with different artists will open up new ideas, a different way of approaching the task at hand, and new methods of working.
Through this experience I have proven to myself that I am able to take care of myself, and I now feel more comfortable about taking risks. Being able to talk to strangers is a life skill that I believe will come in handy later on. As an artist, most of the work you produce is through collaboration, so being able to bring different ideas and thoughts together is what – in my opinion – a great artist is all about.
I also lived with students from different parts of the world and through them got introduced to their customs, their background and their stories. From interactions such as these I am now more aware of what is out there, and I now feel I have more options available to me for my future. Through the friends I made during my time abroad I got the opportunity to explore new places as I was invited to visit their homes, explore their cultures and their cities. Travelling with a local is far more entertaining and insightful than a traveler’s guidebook! They know where the cheapest bars are, the best restaurant in town and the hip new place to be.
Travel has long been a passion of mine, and so when this opportunity came up I was quick to seize it. This is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that has been handed to you on a silver platter; keep in mind that an opportunity like this will probably not be offered to you again.