Going Back Home, Goodbye America
Pros and Cons to Studying Abroad
It's already been 6 moths and my stay here in America has come to it's end...
First, I would like to thank all my teachers here at VCU for the knowledge they have given me, I would like to thank my study abroad adviser, who helped me with all my ridiculous questions and finally, I would like to thank UWE for granting me this magnificent opportunity!
And last, but not least, I would like to thank all my readers for following my blog, my very lazy blog, and I hope I have helped you in a way!
Pros and Cons
The list of 'pros' is really long. Dear readers, if you have been with me from the very beginning you could see to how many new and exciting places I have been and how many cultural differences I have embraced. My horizons were broaden and my way of thinking has drastically changed. I now feel like I can accomplish so many things that I felt too weak to do. And most importantly- I now have a strict path I want to follow and will never give up on my dream. I am not a leaf floating on top of the river's current. I am the current!
But enough sweet talk and ambitious words.. it's time we talk in numbers.
The only cons I would say are grades, money and maybe weather.
First of all, if you are planning to do a study abroad you need to be careful of how your grades will transfer. If you are unsure- please, speak with your study abroad advisers and decide if you could actually afford to go abroad and miss a whole semester off from your own university. Speak with your tutors as well to see what they will be teaching when you are gone and then decide whether it is worth it.
Second, money. Plan out carefully this step. If you are a Bristol (UK) based student then studying in Richmond will probably be about the same as what you are paying here. If you are not from England then do a research on what costs are like. Also, look into scholarships or any kind of loan or grant that you might be eligible for from your own university.
Do remember that if you have never been to America and this is going to be your first time- you WILL need to prepare to spend money on every trip and buy a lot of souvenirs!
Weather. This is also a key factor for studying in Richmond. The weather there tends to change quite rapidly. When I firs got there it was -5 degrees Celsius and just recently a snow storm had struck the city. Afterwards the temperatures went up to nearly 30 degrees, however we got rain storms quite a lot.
Food and culture. As America is quite different from Europe, there are a lot of things that at first you might miss a lot. If you have gotten used to your everyday Tesco then you might find Walmart strange at first- lacking some products or healthier foods. For me, I got used to it quite fast but if you are a more stay-at-home type of person you will have to embrace some changes in you diet and way of living (I did gain a few kilograms in America but noting life changing). Also, be prepared for random compliments on the streets or people asking you about your accent and where are you from. Americans tend to be quite open and very friendly!
Education! Usually in England you have a few lectures here and there in your weekly schedule but here... here you have classes you have to attend without being late and most of them will start early in the morning (8am) so no slacking off .
This is pretty much all I could think of. I hope it has helped in a way. If there are any more questions I would love to have a chat or answer any worries! My contact details are in the 'CONTACT' page and I will try to respond as soon as possible!
It has been a pleasure to keep this blog and I hope it has for you, too!
My adventure ends here but my exploring has still a long way to go!
With lots of love to all the readers,
The End of an Amazing Adventure
Downtown Chicago, The Planetarium, The Aquarium, Baha'i House of Worship, Navy Pier and then on the plane to Richmond!
Each place from the listed above has it's own hyperlink to a page for the readers to find more information. I hope that helps!
All of the places were amazing and it was really hard for me to leave! I recommend them all and all of them are a must-see destination when going to Chicago! I can't express how grateful I am for this opportunity and my trusted guide a.k.a. my cousin!
I have see so much new and interesting places that my mind can't wrap itself around that thought. I have taken so much notes and pictures from going to the aquarium and the art museums that I can research them in peace later on when I go back home. So much new material to study!
I will never forget Chicago and the magic it put on me!
Willis Tower, pizza, Art Institute of Chicago and The Bean
After meeting the Bulgarians and eating all-you-can-stomach homemade food, it was time for us to go sightseeing!
We (me and my cousin) got up really early, got the metro (over the ground, not underground one- how cool is that) and 40 minutes later arrive at downtown Chicago where the magic happened.
I immediately fell in love with the city. The skyscrapers, tall as giants touched the clouds with their steel built shoulders. The people, flocking from street to street, from light to light, hurrying to get to their final destinations, looked like buzzing hardworking bees. The men and women in costumes stood out with their industrial charisma and concentrated faces. Everything and everyone was going so fast yet so organized. It's as if someone had planned every footstep and every movement but added a drop of compressed chaos to the big ant farm. And I was there in the center of everything. One explorer with her camera... I loved it!
First stop and a must-see-in-Chicago was Willis Tower. Unfortunately when we got to the top there was zero visibility, which did not discourage us to still have fun. At one point I could actually see the clouds clearing up and making way to the little buildings and cars underneath us. From Willis Tower we headed east to The Art Institute of Chicago. On the way there we both got really hungry so we stopped to grab something to eat. The place where we stayed was a small american dinner/fast food restaurant. The interior looked so much like something taken out of a movie! And the pizza... probably one of the best pizzas I've eaten! When going to Chicago everyone must try the pizza! Trust me, you won't regret it!
After filling our bellies we went to the Art Institute and I thought that the day couldn't get any better but I was so wrong! Pictures underneath will show a small portion of what I saw but if I was to put it in words... It was simply an amazing experience!!! There is too much to see there and I bet there won't be a single artist (or non artist) disappointed from their visit!
And finally our journey took it's end with something called 'The Bean'. 'The Bean', or should I say Cloud Gate, is a public statue situated in Millennium park. It is a fascinating work of art and a very fun-to-take-pictures place! (More info about Cloud Gate HERE).
It was so whimsical taking various selfies and different angled pictures underneath and around it!
After almost 10 hours of walking around Chicago we finally got back home to have a rest for the upcoming adventures.
Chicago is amazing!
Hello again and welcome to my blog!
Today I am going to be taking you on a tour through Chicago!
Recently I got in contact with a relative of mine to then understand that he was also living in America... in Chicago! Can you imagine how fortunate that was!! I was so excited! Later on, after chatting we decided to meet after my university ends and when he has free time off work. Not long after, the date was set and I was flying to Chicago! And here goes my story:
Day 1: This is my first time in Chicago and I was really excited about going. Thankfully my cousin, who lives there, showed me around.
As a Bulgarian in America, I had to try the Bulgarian restaurants before the American food! Turns out that there is a very huge Bulgarian community living in Chicago. And because of all this, sightseeing was postponed for a later day. First I had to meet the Bulgarians! And that included my cousin's relatives, roommates, friends, co-workers and so long.
(But I was really happy!!!!)
Hello again, my blog, my followers!
It's been a while but I have a good reason for this
And while having lots to share and show
First My grades
3D Illustration, Media and Tech- A
Maya 3D Animation- B
Game Design- A
A bit of clearance about the transfer of grades from one university to another: -if you chose to do an exchange year be careful how your grades/credits will transfer! Try to ask teachers or exchange advisers on the topic because I am guessing every university is different. For future UWE students wanting to go on exchange do note down that you WON'T be able to drop out your lowest grade from year 2 due to your study abroad. Credits do transfer though so you can be safe about this. Personally for me this was a slight problem because I put more effort in my American university study than my English one (don't get me wrong, I tried my best at both of them, just UWE decided I was not good enough in my subjects... and where do I get my degree from?- UWE, not America... but experience/talent over grades. ( I will make a future post about 'Things to know when applying for an exchange university study program' because I think that will be more beneficial to a lot of the readers here! Continuing on the same topic with the grades, I have only one complaint to make. As you can see I have one single 'B' in the almost perfect A-list. What happened there? I really don't know! I understand that the first half of the semester my Maya animation was not the best! I had a lot of difficulties with the program, the texturing, the cameras... pretty much everything. But I ended up getting a 'B' which is understandable and I am not questioning it. Second half of the semester I learned what UV-s are, I learned how to texture, how to work with Arnold, how to make better camera movements and I learned more about rigging. My animation has a slightly different concept (a better one) and in top of everything it has PARTICLES! Maya people would understand the struggles. AND I DID INDEED STRUGGLE! Personally, and I repeat, personally, if someone was to look at the comparison between the two animation they would see the big difference and the effort and everything learned put together into the new animation. (Both animation will be uploaded in the 'My Work' tab under 'Maya Animation') After all this, I do not understand why I got a 'B' again. Of course, I did try to contact my tutor but I did not receive any emails back. No written criteria was attached to the grade as well. Another thing that caught my eye was that none of the grades had written evaluation with them. It did not bother me for my A-s but the B made me question this. Unfortunately with no reply back. Enough from this. Same principle from the top could be applied here- experience/talent over grades!
Oh and one really awesome thing: I got an email from the Dean of my university congratulating me on my success and good grades. It is a very generic email (probably sent to a lot of other people) but I am indeed proud.
Dear Vasilena Kavanozova,
My learning experience had reached it's peak here in America and I do not regret one bit of the decision to have an exchange semester at VCU! I will try to continue with the same spirit onwards- broadening my horizons and experiencing new possibilities!
Hello dear reader!
I am terribly sorry for not having a consistent stream of posts but if you are/were a student with tight deadlines- you will understand!
So here is what has happened to me recently in a nutshell:
Nonetheless I still try to find time on the weekends to do some exploring and adventuring. Just recently I went to Crabtree Falls to take in some fresh air and enjoy the beautiful waterfalls and greens of the nature.
Next on the list is the King's Dominion Amusement Park and I HAD SO MUCH FUN there!
I want to finish this post by saying that you should check my 'MY WORK' tab which is updated and the new 'DIGITAL SKETCHBOOK' drop down tab, as well. I think that the sketchbook that I had in the 'Other Work' section was not highlighted enough so I separated it in it's own page.
Also, here is a very beautiful blossomed tree from in front of my university building!
See you next time!
The difference between American and English Academics
As a person who is new to the whole English system and even newer to the American one I could say that both have their pros and cons. I was just at a talk with some former students from VCU, who were sharing their experience as working people/ freelancing and as a whole what they expected/didn't expect from their life outside university. This made me realize some things about both systems. I will not go in full detail but just going to scrape on some things:
First- American education system in university makes you go to classes every day. This, as it may sound horrible, is rather nice when you get used to the idea of going to bed at 1am and getting up at 7am. Why is it nice? Because unlike in England you can't spend an entire week without getting up from bet but actually motivates you to do work and creates a learning environment and friendly connections. Almost every class you have homework for the next one which again stimulates you to producing more working material.
England on the other hand, to me personally, is a place of free will. i am not one to have such strong will to be self-driven and motivated to be left on my own and do work. I understand that this is mostly my opinion and there are a lot of people out there that will disagree with me. I have talked to a lot of students here and they would have actually prefer to have less lectures and be left on their own. This indeed has more pros in the area where students have to go to work and prefer studying at very irregular hours. Again, I am not one of those people.
In America you have to travel a lot and because America is 'the land of opportunities' and Everyone knows it's big cities.. where do you think all the hundreds of graduates each year go? To Chicago, New York, Washington, Las Vegas, etc. If you are an artist then you have the right to be frightened by that idea. Knowing that you will be competing with so many more people that would kill to get your job is purely frightening.
I do believe that that also exist in England but I have yet to see it. From what I know a lot of artist tend to go to London but it doesn't seem as bad as what it is here. maybe it's all my imagination but on this topic i would prefer to be working in England.
As a whole i think that people in america tend to be friendlier which is not something that big but it does help build a better learning environment. Or maybe it's just the weather to blame for the gloominess of the English nation.
I can probably continue to talk on this topic but I will stop for now. There are other racial/political/migrational/finantional topics that need to be mentioned but that goes way too deep.
Keeping a blog was not as easy as it seemed...
Who knew that managing a blog diary was this hard? I mean, it probably isn't as hard for the normal person but for a transfer student who goes to uni for 15 hours straight... yeah, you read correctly, 15 HOURS STRAIGHT..and also enjoys going out on the weekend and finding time to sleep... well it is hard.
On top of everything I have been attending quite a few lectures where celebrities in my area of study (famous graphic designers, concept artist, animators, illustrators, etc.) in my free time and those were not short (thankfully for me, because I actually enjoy them so much!!!)
Time flies so fast that it actually worries me that I would have to go back to England soon.... I really don't want to. I found my perfect studying environment here. I love the subject and the program. Call me a book nerd if you want but I want to study here so much!
Currently as I am writing this I am thinking of how to update the 'My Works' tab. I shall not run away anymore and update it today.
I'm sorry for the big gap of not posting anything for a while and thank you for all the readers out there!
I've never been one to keep a blog on track... or anything to be honest. There are a lot of things happening throughout the week to remember them all and later on when the weekend comes it feels just Too Short. Indeed, you might say that scribbling down a few lines and adding a few pictures would not take a lot from my time, but I am a person of procrastination. As I have mentioned earlier in this blog- the deadline is my inspiration!
The mandatory shopping week
Yes, I went, I shopped, I bought so many things!
I love these mini trips that VCU is planning for us- exchange student, but the idea of travelling for 45 minutes with car just to get to the nearest place to buy clothes is just so off putting... I am a 'city gal', I am used to shops being all around me... I even got used to the idea of shopping in Primark every time I have to go out or look somehow decent/smart when meeting new people at parties... but here... I feel like I should rely on the pity of uni to take me somewhere to shop for clothes. I am being harsh but imagine needing clothes and having to pay 30-40 dollars for Uber and traveling and hour and a half there and back (and additional some hours for shopping).
The plus is that I do get to see the other exchange students, talk with them, meet new people and look at the scenery outside Richmond. I do like traveling... Just not for clothes...
And this is what Williamsburg outlet looks like from outside and inside:
There were a lot of shops and all of them were famous brands! It took me almost 5 hours to look around and go into every shop. We did take a food break in a Sushi restaurant (Pssst, I am a big Sushi lover!) and the staff there was as amazing as the food and the interior layout!
All in all, week #6 was good! My bruises from last week's skiing are almost healing, studies are going well and tomorrow I'm going to have my first test...
Cross your fingers for me!