Updated: Mar 18, 2019
Can you believe it? I have been living in London for a month now; I know I sure can't! If we are being picky, it has been almost six weeks now, but my schedule has been crazy busy and I completely forgot to blog. Despite feeling like I have been running on high-gear, these three weeks have been some of the most incredible weeks in the UK. I couldn't be happier- London is beginning to feel like my second home.
I didn't expect the voice in my head challenging me to convert my speech to follow British patterns. Since I am fully immersed in British culture, the voice in my head has started to speak like a Brit including slang and pitch changes when speaking. Yesterday I was taken aback when I said quid naturally instead of "bucks" when referring to the price of my lunch. When talking to my parents earlier last week I even mixed up the British Pound and the US dollar in our conversation accidentally. It may come from constant heckling from my peers and tutors for my american accent.
Over the last couple weeks I have spent countless hours exploring the Museums of London. I had the opportunity to explore the National Portrait Gallery with Paige and her friend Paige Walters, where we were able to see the only recorded portraits of historical figures like the Tudors. We had an interesting team dynamic as the Paige's were fascinated by the historical background behind the paintings; whereas, I filled them in on the artistic history and production process of each piece. Together, we also took on the National History Museum which was connected to the National Portrait Gallery. I was able to see, in person, the paintings that I had learned about in all of my art classes growing up: Picasso paintings, partially completed Michelangelo pieces, and large Monet paintings. By the time we were done, I am pretty sure they had to reset my jaw after staring bug-eyed and open-mouthed at these historical masterpieces.
Later in the week I met up with Brian, a classmate from studio at home, and we found a hidden modern art exhibition called the Gagosian. It was a two room exhibition with two pieces worth millions; we also visited the Tate Modern. Although neither gallery was quite my style, it was still extremely fun to be able to explore London with a friend from home. During my museum stint, I met back up with Paige and toured Kensington Palace and Hyde Park.
Just recently I had a break in my class schedule and was able to escape the studio for a day out in the city. This was my chance to visit the British Museum. I was able to be face-to-face with the mummy of Cleopatra, see ancient Egyptian tools, pyramid artifacts, and walk though halls of ancient Roman pottery, statues, and art. Outside of London I was able to visit three more museums on a day trip to the Roman city of Bath in western England.
London is often covered by a blanket of clouds, much like Minnesota. The grey sky resembles home, especially with how early the sun sets here. Setting around 4:00 pm, the sun falls away to reveal breathtaking sunsets behind the old brick buildings clinging to the sky. These sunsets create perfect opportunities to capture stunning images walking home from class.
(BA) Product Design
It may seem that most of my time spent in London has been taking pictures or visiting museums, but it has been a largely spent in the design studio. Unlike many study abroad programs, the integrated product design program at UAL that I am participating in holds me to the same standards as any other student at the university. This means long hours spent in the studio cranking out sketches and models.
Unlike classes at Iowa State, UAL structures their classes differently. You don't have the options to choose your classes, instead, you follow a predetermined path for your degree. As a result, classes do not have a fixed schedule like they do back in the states. Instead of taking studio classes, I have several classes dotted around throughout the week while all of my "free time" is supposed to be spent in the studio working. This class model has actually worked in my favor as I normally have class only three days a week. Regardless, I spend almost eight hours a day, five days a week working or socializing with my new friends at uni. The studio here is more than a classroom, it is their home, a place in which they spend a majority of each day whether that be working or hanging out. The distance between housing and uni also promotes students to stay throughout the day.
At Central Saint Martins, my term (semester) is spent studying user experience and behaviors. For non-product designers, this means that I develop products through intensive research to create the most meaningful and impactful product for a user based on extensive research and development. The goal is to get inside the user's head- understand their needs, goals, wants, desires, and predict what would work the best for them even if they don't quite know it yet. It involves observing people's behaviors and seeing what makes them tick, different quirks they have, or what makes them unique. It fits perfectly into my Psychology background making me incredibly excited for the work I do.
Before leaving the country, I made a big purchase that I had been drooling over. For everyone that knows me well, they understand how completely obsessed I can become with cameras. Just before Christmas, I decided to pull the trigger on the purchase; I bought a Sony A7III camera and sold my old gear.
With my camera in hand, I have spent countless hours exploring the winding streets of London: disappearing down old cobblestone side streets, wandering through street markets, and getting lost in London's countless parks. On several occasions Brian has tagged along and together we took on the city to capture everything we could take in. When living in London, it is impossible to sit idle and not attempt to photograph everything in sight. The history and beauty of this city makes studying abroad an incredible adventure.