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 AvP. 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 AvP- 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 AvP- 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 AvP- 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.

And then we got packing...

Beginning of Winter Break! 27.02.17

Having only had 3 days of uni, we then had a week off! With no idea of how grading works, what we needed to prepare (other than answering a few questions about our project) and having found out that we got into the production house we wanted, we went travelling! We left early on Friday morning, and got a train to Ghent, Belgium.

Day 2- 18.02.17

We went to Gravensteen castle in the morning on Saturday, before getting a train to Bruges, Belgium. We spent the day there, went on a boat around the city before getting another train to Lille, France late in the evening.

Days 3 and 4- 19.02.17- 20.02.17

We spent 2 days in France, staying in Lille which was beautiful for 3 nights, and visiting Bethune and Lens while we were there.

Day 5- 21.02.17

Day 5 we spent time in 3 countries in one day! Woke up in Lille, France; spent the day in Tournai, Belgium, then had dinner and got to our hostel in Cologne, Germany for the evening!

Tournai was very wet!

Day 6- 22.02.17

Spent the Day in Cologne, Germany. Had a walking tour before going up the triangle and then visiting the love lock bridge. We got a train to Dusseldorf, Germany for the evening.

Day 7- 23.02.17

Spent the day in Dusseldorf, having not realised that it was Carnival! It was very busy, with a lot of drinking. We spent a little time having a look around, but didn't fit in without the costumes! We found food (no idea what I ate but it was very tasty and and as big as my head!) We then found a really great car showroom inside an old roundhouse on the outskirts.

Day 8- 24.02.17

Spent our final day in Wuppertal, Germany. It was like walking onto a film set. We were both so amazed by the Schwebebahn, we got a day pass and rode around on it all day! We also went to a tapestry museum which was really cool.

We made our way back to Leeuwarden in the evening by train, a fantastic 8 days. We visited 9 towns and cities, 3 countries, and walked over 95 miles..... A fantastic adventure with many many memories.

Week 3 at AvP- 27.02.17

Week 3 we started off with our SLB meeting, discussing our projects before our first Stroom production house on Wednesday with our Tutors, Hans and Adri. The group all suggested things they wanted to do for the next 8 weeks and any excursions they would like. Hans also told us about the group night away next week.

We then had a 3D lab in the afternoon, where we were trying out projection mapping, and tracking a 3D object into footage using Cinema 4D.

04.03.17- 05.03.17

Jason's parents came to visit, so we went out for a lovely meal on Saturday evening, and then we went on a ferry to Ameland for the day which was a really great chance to get to know them better!

Week 4 at AvP- 06.03.17

Week 4 was an eventful week.... on Tuesday, we met with Adri early and drove with him to Estermar, Netherlands. We had an old Saxon farmhouse rented for Stroom for the night.

We met everyone there, worked out what to buy, and decided that I was cooking for everyone, then went to a shop to buy supplies. We went for a walk around the countryside, all stood on a bird watching platform discussing art and culture and different societies. We all came back and worked on our projects before I cooked everyone dinner and we ate around the table together. After dinner, we finished off our mini projects, and met in another room to show our work. I had been playing around with different styles of digital drawing.

We all relaxed, drank, and had creative discussion about everyone's projects. I am really enjoying the open discussion with other creative people, it's something I think I am learning a huge amount from.

We then relaxed for the evening, listening to music, jamming, talking, It was a really great evening.

We ended up going to bed at 5am, very sleepy people!

We drove home in the morning after breakfast, Jace and I were both exhausted but had 'Dinner with the Mayor' that evening. It turned out to be a fairly strange affair, we both dressed up, but it was a talk about Leeuwarden for international students, followed by a trip up the Olderhove, then for pancakes on the Pannekoekschip. It was a nice evening.

This week, I also worked on learning some Cinema 4D skills, and how to track an object into video with reflections.

Week 5 at AvP- 13.03.17

This Tuesday I went to a cat cafe with some friends from AvP before my SLB meeting, it was really great, we had tea and cake, and got to play with the cats. They were all such characters, Romy loved my shoelaces!

On Wednesday, we had a meeting with Stroom, got to meet Ellis who said she will help us with working out things for assessments (we only just got an English version of the competences (what we are graded on!) Jason and I have agreed to help the academy to improve the course for new international students. Adri talked us through how to apply the competences to our projects. We then had the animation lab, and started designing an animation with a robot. I have been set the task to make the factory scene for next week.

Later on, Jace and I met Clive and Richard from back home. We discussed how our exchange was going, our experiences so far, and caught up on some necessaries from back home. We had some food, and discussed how our experiences at AvP could be used to help Lincoln. Jason and I have agreed to help bring in some of the academy's learning techniques to the re-written media course at Lincoln. It was a really productive evening, and was great to see some friendly faces from back home too!

I spent the rest of the week trying to figure out the competences and core tasks I wanted to be assessed on, and helping to make scenes for animation, pretty proud of our factory!

Week 6 at AvP- 20.03.17

This week, we looked at our work in different contexts in Stroom. Adri also looked at my core tasks and competences, it turns out they were wrong so I need to re- do them now that I understand. I'm stressing out a little, I haven't been able to start my projects yet because I didn't understand what they needed to be assessed on, so i now have 2 weeks to create 2 concepts with 2 full portfolios.... We made robots in the animation lab!

Jason and I worked on our competences until the early hours of Friday, I think we were going a little crazy by the time we decided to call it a night!

Week 7 at AvP- 27.03.17

This week, I finally started working on my first project-

My EDS art piece.

A 3 minute video piece which can be shared on social media. The piece will be a mixed media project, with a projection mapping illustrating spoken word poetry about HSD, Chronic pain, invisible disabilities, and the social perception of it. The projection will be projected onto the speaker’s body or parts of the speaker’s body. The aim is to raise awareness of the condition and other invisible disabilities, to give viewers an insight into what it is like for sufferers.

Mac V Windows in Stroom...

In the production house, I did my presentation on my project for feedback. Every week, we do a 'Throw your shit on the table' session where we discuss what we have done that week, but twice a semester, we have to do a presentation to the group. Mine went well and I got some really great feedback from everyone.

Wednesday afternoon, we started to animate our robots, and got the factory scene animated. We set up 3 animation stations and got to work!

Week 8 at AvP- 03.04.17

This week, I worked on my second project...

My 3D sculpture project.

A video proposal, 30-60 seconds long to be shown to the council and residents of Leeuwarden to propose a statue which recognises the cities achievement of winning the bid for the European Capital of Culture 2018. The sculpture will be modern and will use the environment around it to reflect the culture in the city. The sculpture will be created as a digital 3D object, and tracked into a video of the chosen location(s).

In the production house, we discussed how to present our portfolio. There aren't any real requirements or constraints (as with everything here). I think I'm finally on track! I submitted my 43 page, 8500 word document containing my 2 portfolios for feedback on Friday. Time to relax for the weekend, nothing I could do but wait.

International dinner at our flat Friday. Everyone brought dishes from their home country, and we all shared food. Jason and I made a good old Eton Mess which went down a treat.

Jace and I went to Groningen on the Saturday to visit a photography gallery which had just opened. We then visited the Groninger Museum, it was a nice day out!

Week 9 at AvP- 10.04.17

Week 9 I received my feedback, mostly positive! I worked on the animation again on Wednesday.

I submitted my final portfolio for assessment on Thursday, my assessment for these 6 competences is on Tuesday, it will be interesting to see how I do, the assessment isn't like anything I have done at Lincoln.

Created By
Brogan Lawes
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