My Erasmus Exchange. The academy of pop culture, Leeuwarden

A little about me...

My name is Brogan, I am a 2nd year Media Production student at the University of Lincoln in England. I study TV and Digital Media and am interested in photography, art, and design. In my 1st year of university, I was given the opportunity to apply for an exchange in Digital Media for the second semester of my 2nd year. Myself and a friend Jason already knew of the Erasmus exchange programme so jumped at the opportunity to learn more. We both started the application process for the two exchange places with The Academy of Pop Culture in Leeuwarden, Netherlands.

The Process

The application process for the Exchange was started in November 2015, we were chosen for the exchange places by our university before being accepted to the Pop Culture minor by Hanze University. once our places were confirmed, there was a lot to organise; Things such as accommodation, flights and insurance, but also small things that you wouldn't immediately think of. On top of all this, we had to work the first half of our 2nd year in Lincoln around our exchange, finding somewhere to live with short contracts and making sure that our credits will all work out by the end of the year.

After many 'To Do' lists, talks with various tutors, evenings searching for places to live, and working out details, we finished our last semester at Lincoln before the exchange and went home for the Christmas break, knowing that we wouldn't be back in Lincoln until September 2017. January 2017 was spent organising all of the last details whilst all of our friends started back at university in Lincoln. Over a year of preparation all came into play when it came to February 2nd.

Here we go....

Jason and I met at the Airport on February 2nd and flew into Groningen to be greeted with a sunset landing; the start of our adventure. We stayed in a little hotel for a night in Groningen before attending an international welcome day at Hanze University of Applied Sciences.

We had a welcome talk which was a nice intro to Dutch culture, but all of the information was on living in Groningen, and no one seemed to know a lot about the Academy of Pop Culture in Leeuwarden! We left the welcome day once we had gathered all the relevant information and headed over to Leeuwarden by train to pick up the keys to our rooms (we are living with 23 other students from around the world, sharing one big kitchen which will be interesting). We dropped our cases off before getting straight back on a train to Groningen to spend another night there and see the beautiful city!

Here you can find the photos from our few days in Groningen under 'Trip one'.

Something To Note About the Academie voor Popcultuur...

It has no curriculum. The entire course is based on student drive. It is all down to the students to work on a project of their choosing and to source the help they need from the right people at the academy. There are also only 247 students across all four years (foundation, level 1, level 2, and level 3). There are about 13 exchange students this semmester, though 8 of these are from the parent university in Groningen. 1 of the 5 remaining exchange students is Dutch, so that leaves 4 non-Dutch-speaking students in the university, myself and Jason being 2 of them.

The First Week- 06.02.17

After a day or two to find our feet, meeting our new flatmates, exploring the city, and buying bikes (very important here as everyone cycles everywhere!) Another thing was finding food... not only are we in a new university and city, everything is new. You cant just go to Tesco to buy food, we had to work out what shops sold food at a decent price and what on earth most of the food is! Our first shopping trip was an interesting one, with google translate at the ready and a willingness to try new foods!

We met with Anne Karen at the AoPC. She gave us a few details on start dates, and told us how different the Academy is to all other universities, but we still felt a little in the dark about what we will actually be doing there! We had a few days before we started our first week, so We decided to travel a little around the Netherlands. We caught a train to Arnhem, then visited Dieren and Nijmegen which gave us a chance to take some photos, see some sights, and practice speaking a little Dutch. Photos can be found on my photography blog under 'Trip two'.

Day One at AoPC- 13.02.17

Day one at the academy gave us the dreaded 'what have we done' feeling when the 2 and a half hour lecture was 90% in Dutch..... This was remedied a little in the afternoon when we met with Ype so he could explain to the 4 non Dutch speaking Students in the entire university (myself and Jason included) that we will be having 3 types of 'classes'. Production houses, Labs, and SLB meetings. We will choose these tomorrow.

Day Two at AoPC- 14.02.17

Day two was essentially made of fayres. The first being to talk to each production house to decide which tutors you wanted to work with based on their expertise and way of learning and the second being to choose our Lab which would teach us the practical skills we would like to learn. Jason and I both chose 'Stroom' production house because it fitted our needs for Digital Media expertise. We also both chose the Design Lab and will be meeting Thursday to design our own curriculum.

The design tutors were aware there were exchange students, so spoke mostly in English. Some students struggled a little with this so in some cases, things would be explained in both English and Dutch which was interesting. I feel as though it will be a learning curve for everyone, many of the tutors have said it will be a good chance to practice their English. We then met with our SLB tutor, Emmilee (our one on one tutor) and our group which was made up of all of the exchange students. We have to submit our project plans by the 28th February for sign off.

Day Three at AoPC- 16.02.17

We met with the design lab to work out what everyone would like to learn this semester for their projects. The lab is made of all of the design tutors, and anyone interested in design across all four years. We all made boards containing skills we want to be taught so that the Tutors could put together a plan of classes for this semester so that we can attend the classes relevant to us. It was funny that tutors would start in Dutch, then mid-sentence say 'sorry, English!' and continue in English. All students tried to put their points across in English, and when they couldn't, they would switch to Dutch and this would be explained. The flow of the two languages is interesting, it is very fluid swapping back and forth, and many of the students are happy to help Jason and I to translate.

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Brogan Lawes
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Brogan Lawes

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