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November 22, 2007 9:27 AM   Subscribe

College student exchange options - America, Canada or Australia - or elsewhere ? It's your chance to send me packing !

My college is running a student exchange programme and i'd like to know if anyone has any knowledge of these places as i'm just looking at words on a page here - the subject is photography and the options we can apply to are:

America - Rhode island school of design, Mass college of art , Maryland inst college of art.

Canada - Emily Carr Inst Vancouver, Novia Scotia College Halifax.

Australia - National University Canberra, Queensland College Brisbane.

There's also Lahti in Finland, ENSAD in France, Vilnius in Lithuania and Srishti School in Bangalore India.

So, as you can see theres a lot of options here and i was hoping anyone with any art study experience at any of these institutions would be able to give me a bit of information that could help me make a more informed choice, even though it's always a bit of a gamble going anywhere.

I have the website addresses for these places but theyre not really telling me very much and i think anyone with a bit more inside info would be a lot more help.

A v.long post from me, hopefully not too dense, all help appreciated.
posted by sgt.serenity to Education (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
To answer your question sort of sideways, I would suggest picking a place that is culturally and perhaps linguistically very different from where you live. The specifics of the studies you can always get later or on your own, but there is no replacement for deeply confronting a really foreign place. I don't know where you have lived, and where your family is from, but I am suggesting picking one of the options on your list that is the furthest from what you know and are familiar with.
posted by Forktine at 9:47 AM on November 22, 2007

We could probably help you out more if you indicate what you want out of an internship. Big city? Small town? Good college town, connections, best art program, easy access to other surrounding cities? Providence (RI) has a different vibe than Baltimore, both are a reasonable distance from NYC where you will want to visit as an artist. Where are you coming from? Your money might go further in one country vs. another, so keep that in mind, too.
posted by 45moore45 at 9:49 AM on November 22, 2007

You may also want to consider what kind of work you are making and whether it's influenced by your surroundings. For example, a street photographer would find different material in a city than s/he would in a fishing town.
posted by xo at 9:53 AM on November 22, 2007

UQ's art faculty is alright, but not even the best in the state - that'd be at the Conservatorium. I'd skip it. ANU is a tremendous university but likewise a big "generalist" place, where typically visual arts don't get too much play.

Faculty quality aside, UQ is a wonderful campus in a pretty great city, so even if you didn't much learn anything you'd have a good time.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 9:54 AM on November 22, 2007

NSCAD (Nova Scotia College of Art & Design) in Halifax is a small but very well-respected art institution. Generally speaking I'd say it's the highest-regarded art school in Canada. I'm certain that the program there would be excellent for you. (Disclosure: I planned and hoped to attend NSCAD from a young age but got rejected when I applied 15 years ago!)

The NSCAD campus is gorgeous: a block-plus of historic buildings in the oldest part of downtown, all renovated to work as one interconnected building inside, plus a few separate buildings in the area.

Halifax is a city of about 400,000 including the suburban areas, with 8 universities (more if you count one that got rolled into another a few years back) so there is a huge student presence there and a vibrant student life. Halifax is not a bustling metropolis: there are certainly big-city amenities like vegetarian restaurants and record stores and an active nightlife due to the student population and tourism, but the local supperhour news also shows drawings about weather done by children and lists anniversaries and major birthdays. It's kind of a contradiction that way. It's definitely not podunk, but it's not NYC either. That being said, it is very isolated from other major cities: Montreal is about 13 hours' drive, Quebec City and Boston about 11.

On the plus side, though, the landscape of the Maritime provinces is gorgeous. If you like the outdoors it would be a wonderful place to be. Cape Breton Island is about 4 hours' drive and it's positively stunning. Newfoundland requires a long ferry ride but if you're going to be so close it's a must-visit. PEI is about 4 hours by car as well for beautiful ocean beaches that are warmed by the Gulf stream coming from the southern US. Lots of familiar-but-different Celtic flavour in the entire region, even down to some of the local accents.

And of course, you'll be in Canada, which is a peaceful, wonderful place to be -- and in the most friendly, down-to-earth part too.
posted by loiseau at 10:05 AM on November 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

As a photographer, you might want to look at the faculty and see if any of those people is someone you'd like to study under, or whose methods you'd be interested in (like Harry Callahan who developed the program at RISD, for instance). Check out alumni and their work as well. Sorry I don't have specific information for you, that's just where I'd start my investigations.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:13 AM on November 22, 2007

As an alumna of the university next to RISD, I'd say go there, but maybe that is just because I miss it.

Providence is a neat little slice of America and with a cheap car, you have loads of subject matter: cities, postindustrial fun, cute little towns, the ocean. Plus I am a sucker for New England, and Providence is certainly fun. I think I'd rather live there than Baltimore; given what I know about the two, PVD is a lot less sketchy. There is always a little bit going on, but RISD students work like crazy, so I think there is little danger of being bored. I'm sure you'll have fun whatever you choose, though.
posted by dame at 10:25 AM on November 22, 2007

I have heard great things about NSCAD as well. Along with Emily Carr and OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design), these are the top-rank art schools in Canada. Which of them is the best is up for debate.

I have met several people who've gone through Emily Carr. It seems to be a great school. The main campus is on Granville Island in Vancouver, right on the False Creek waterfront, just a wonderful location. Big snowy mountains loom over the city.
posted by PercussivePaul at 10:27 AM on November 22, 2007

I'm not a photographer, but if I were in that position, I would really want to go to India! I'm assuming you're based in the UK. America, Canada, and Australia are not terribly different from the UK, and I suspect the competition for those programs would be higher since everyone wants to go to a "similar" country.

Plus, think of all the awesome pictures you could take in India every day, just walking around in town! When will you have another chance to live in India for any amount of time?
posted by pravit at 10:36 AM on November 22, 2007

Ooh- are you really from Scotland, by any chance? You could wear a kilt and play the pipes at NSCAD and hardly be noticed! It's a very cool small city, Halifax, and chock full of university students.
posted by fish tick at 10:44 AM on November 22, 2007

I tend to agree with pravit: go somewhere different and interesting. I've been to Bangalore and I think you'd have an interesting time there.

On those grounds, I'd advise against Canberra (there are some interesting cities in Australia, Canberra isn't really one of them).
posted by Infinite Jest at 11:41 AM on November 22, 2007

ANU and UQ in australia are in Canberra and Queensland respectively ... both not somewhere I would recommend. Sydney or Melbourne ... yes. Those two - NO
posted by jannw at 12:33 PM on November 22, 2007

I looked into Emily Carr, but found it was heavily biased towards painting, this was a few years ago so ymmv.
I ended up attending NSCAD on exchange, took classes in silversmithing and industrial design and had a great time. The campus is uhm, insane to navigate as they basically hollowed out buildings, it adds a fun adventure quality to trying to find your way to class. Its a party city, I had to walk past litterally 10 bars on my way home from class. I found the work ethic rather light compared to my home institution, so it was a fairly slack semester.
You might also want to check out the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary (full disclosure, I graduated from it) for some reason its not as well known, but in my opinion it offers some of the best courses in Jewellery and glass blowing in the country.
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 1:06 PM on November 22, 2007

I'm not an artist by any stretch of imagination, but I do love Vancouver. It's a fantastic city--beautiful, endless options for entertainment and outdoorsy activities. I visited the Carr Inst. and, yes, it seemed very biased toward painting, as the previous poster mentioned. But the location of the school is pretty great and I'm sure you'd be happy there. There are three considerations: how much do you care about the "prestige" of the school you visit (i.e. how it looks on a resume), do you care more about the social/cultural elements of your experience than the educational experience, and, finally, what type of lifestyle will you be able to afford once you're there?

I'd choose India, FWIW. Radically different culture, food, religion, etc. Maybe you'll find a girl who looks like Padma Lakshmi while you're there.
posted by HotPatatta at 1:51 PM on November 22, 2007

Emily Carr is a great school with a really cool scene around it, but is very heavily oriented to those into painting /drawing. It's also very tampon-in-a-teacup. Wacky sh*t gets way more attention than anything else, and there seems to be a lot of pressure to conform to the "non-conformist" way of art.

That said, I have literally dozens of friends and acquaintances who have studied there and been totally pleased with their education. I have one friend who is in the photograpy program right now and she's happy with it.

Vancouver is beautiful, but retardedly expensive right now [thanks, Olympics!].
posted by rhinny at 2:05 PM on November 22, 2007

I say Vilnius.

Wait, wait, hear me out.

First, because no one here seems to know much about it, and having been there on a visa run once for just a single day, I thought it was really, really great. There's a huge castle on a hill right in the middle of town, too, just like Edinburgh!

But really, because of the other advantages of living there: cheap coming from anywhere, especially if you've got a student grant or something to work with; next to other cool places like the other Baltic states, Poland, Ukraine, and Russia; easy to get home should issues arise; probably easier to network with other European artists (who I presume you'd be working with in future as an photography/art student); way way way less of a hassle getting a visa sorted out; completely possible for you to work as an EU citizen; a huge, gorgeous Old Town; the whole post-Soviet thing; amazing fusion of old and new architecture; the rest of Lithuania is probably pretty great too.

In my mind it's a quality of life issue, really. If you're looking to enjoy the benefits of a comfortable life on a student's budget while making meaningful networking connections, doing some freelance work on the side legally, and really developing as a photographer, then I can't see a choice better than Vilnius here.

Here's a much more detailed guide to Vilnius than anything else I think you'd find online - and you can actually download the entire PDF of the print edition for free.
posted by mdonley at 2:57 PM on November 22, 2007

Oh, Vilnius is also one of the European Capitals of Culture for 2009, which means heaps and heaps of other art and cultural stuff will be around.
posted by mdonley at 2:59 PM on November 22, 2007

I'm gonna be really anal and say that the Ukraine is not a baltic state.

With that out of the way, I too would recommend Vilnus if only because India is, photographically, about as fresh and exciting as photographing the homeless in the USA - everybody's done it and there's so much more world out there. Also, if you don't like the photography course there, it'll be a lot easier to find another school in europe.
posted by jedrek at 3:36 PM on November 22, 2007

I go to school right up the hill from RISD, and it's one of the world's best art schools. On top of that, photography is one of their best programs. And seconding everything dame said about Providence; I'm abroad in London right now and I miss PVD something fierce. If you ever get bored because the RISD students are working, by the way, just come up to Brown - we're always having a party.
posted by awesomebrad at 3:45 PM on November 22, 2007

ANU is a terrific university. Its art school is very highly regarded BUT as a budding photographer and as someone who has lived and travelled overseas, I don't think Canberra is a very exciting place to come on exchange. Same with Brisbane.

As Jannw said, Sydney or Melbourne would be fantastic.
posted by Lucie at 4:35 PM on November 22, 2007

Ignore the people saying Brisbane is unexciting. Brisbane is AWESOME. Sydney or Melbourne are overrated. Brisbane has a lot going for it. It's relaxed, the local government has a LOT to offer for young people. there's plenty to do. I LOVE Brisbane.

However, I've never heard of Queensland College. Which do you mean?

University of Queensland
Queensland University of Technology
Queensland College of Art (I suspect this)
posted by divabat at 6:13 PM on November 22, 2007

I have heard great things about NSCAD as well. Along with Emily Carr and OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design), these are the top-rank art schools in Canada. Which of them is the best is up for debate.

There are only 4 "art schools" in Canada and you've listed 3 of them. The other is ACAD in Calgary and it's every bit as good as OCAD/Carr/NSCAD.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:35 PM on November 22, 2007

RISD is probably the best respected art school in the US; its competition for that spot is not either of the other two schools you mentioned. Providence is a medium city, mostly white and some Latino, heavy Italian/mafia influence (hence a safer city than most), lots of good nooks and crannies, in between New York City and Boston. A great place to live. It was in an industrial depression until maybe 15 years ago and has become a sort of boom town for young artists and people moving out from NYC.

Baltimore is a poor city with a huge black population, which might be quite different from what you're used to. It's cheap to live, so there are lots of artists. There are lots of broken-down buildings and old industrial sites, and some of the corresponding urban violence. It's economically in something like the position that Providence was in 10-15 years ago. A really, really interesting town with a lot going on.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:08 PM on November 22, 2007

Oh yeah, if by "Queensland College" you mean QCA, then it's got a fab program.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 1:27 AM on November 23, 2007

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