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The time has come for a conversation regarding the experience of my peers on this enhancement year and how such compares to my own. When approaching this formal consideration, selection is absolutely paramount; however much I have kept up to date with the blogs of students from all disciplines, strangers and friends (even if just out of curiosity), significance can only really be drawn from those that bear clear relation. For this reason I have taken the time to analyse a cross-section of my fellow CU Photography students; after all, on paper we might have been seen to be moving in similar directions, at least when considering our primary discipline.

With this established, I have taken a great interest in Megan Bradley’s recent uploading of her time at Urban Outfitters. Of course, I worked alongside Megan and have a first hand account of the daily running of the studio. If one was to bring up both sets of writing on the experience, I doubt much more opposite interpretations could be drawn. This I feel speaks to how a near-identical situation can breed converse observations. Even the amount of writing involved somewhat shows this; I found the role to be a largely monotonous and unglamorous position hence the long-form singular response whilst Megan has clearly thrived and found a real passion within the nuances of the role as expressed in her staggered documentary. Whilst I am of course grateful for the opportunity to have received great feedback and developed my soft skills at UO, I know now that that particular line of work isn’t for me post-graduation. Different strokes for different folks. In my absence, Megan has clearly gone on to develop her proficiency as a commercial studio assistant and that’s frankly awesome to see from someone who at the beginning of the year was unsure of where she might sit in the industry.

With consideration of place, my attention turns to Charlotte Bamford and her time in Rovaniemi as a student at the University of Lapland. As much as we share a similar locale (granted she’s a few degrees chillier than myself), it is more the fact that she’s experiencing such as part of a group that perhaps opens a more important observation. What is most impressive about Charlotte’s writing is her honesty in addressing the unforeseen hardships in encountering this foreign environment alongside two of her closest friends. There is a transition somewhere between the initial comfort, being part of a three-woman expedition, and eventual discomfort in the reported lack of individuality and independence. The expressed annoyance at being seen as “English Triplets” more than individual students is a stark contrast to my own perspective; I’ve already made clear my own gradient from apprehensive loneliness to confidence in my independence. Whilst the girls have clearly had an amazing time outside of their banding and branding, writing in retrospect of my first three months I am glad in my own way to have worked through what I have had to, alone ( that a violin I hear?).

Lastly, Liam Richards’ One Year Italian presents an archive of a life in Milan, told through regularly-written and daily instagram posts. Of course there’s a similarity in how we’ve approached documenting our time abroad, taking photographs constantly and featuring such in direct response to the Erasmus experience. Liam’s sheer volume of images forms an honest, time-bound, collage of his study and heralds this previously spoken-of integration as a priority, himself striving to live “Italian”. I cannot deny an underlying curiosity in the reportage from those studying in Milan. I have already recalled on my own blog my disdain at being denied admission to Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti due to the poor communication between universities. That said, a life in Milan seems very fun-led, with far less weight on the academic side of university. The blogs of those there have been an almost vicarious experience for me as I wonder what might have been but, being in the position to learn what I have in Karlstad, I am so grateful for how things have transpired.

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