by Kaarina Uimonen
My exchange year in Falmouth University in Cornwall, UK
I spent my last school year as an exchange student in Falmouth University (Animation&Visual Effects course) in Cornwall in The United Kingdom. I had always wanted to live and study abroad so I was beyond happy when I got selected. There were only two other animation exchange students on the course besides me!
The class was huge, I was with second year students and there were about 60 of them. I was very excited to be in a big group, that meant more chances of making new friends and bigger group projects and more teaching. The school year focused on pre-production. In the beginning of autumn we got to pick post- or pre-production and I picked pre-production since that involves everything I enjoy about making animation plus I wanted to know more about design things.
The workload was big and the studying intense since British universities have shorter terms than in Turku but it felt nice just to focus on animation related subjects only in a student-friendly atmosphere. Their degree is three years long so that’s why I was with second year students.
I was surprised how easy it was to blend in the class. Falmouth University has lots of international students doing their whole degree there so other students often assumed I was one too. The diversity on campus was amazing too. I felt really welcomed during my exchange year by the staff and fellow students. The students were fun, quirky and friendly and it was easy to find common topics with them since everyone loved animation. I got lots of friends there and I hope I’ll see them again.
The lectures were usually two hours long (ideal length!) and they were about character design, visual style or about pitching for an example. We had to practice pitching an animation project a lot during the year and make pitch bibles. There was also one workshop week with the director Luis Cook who has worked in Aardman Animations studio and he helped us with idea generating and gave us a great storyboard lecture.
There were lots of group projects and weekly production meetings with the staff. It was also mandatory to help the third year students in their third year films. Their productions were big and simulated studio environment and methods. Luckily I had done one internship in an animation studio before my exchange year so I wasn’t too lost. There were also some challenging academic essay writing modules we had to do, like Animation Technologies and Research and method. I even had to write a British dissertation proposal!
Penryn campus itself was very beautiful and Falmouth and Penryn are unique as places so I felt very excited to spend a year there and see British campus life. I also constantly saw garden workers on campus grounds, you could say the campus area was like a garden jungle! The campus has lots of services, even a school library that is open 24/7! Falmouth town with beaches and little shops and restaurants was lovely and cosy and it was a nice contrast to the hectic school life to see laidback and easy-going life in a Cornish seaside town where no one seemed to be in a hurry.
Besides school, I also joined in few clubs and societies on campus, like Harry Potter society and Expedition society. The latter allowed me to see Cornwall’s beautiful coasts and nature. The British club/society culture was perhaps one of my favorite things during my exchange year.
My exchange year was really fun, useful and a big experience for me and I was happy to realize how well internationality fits me. I hope to work abroad at some point after I graduate. It was inspiring to see how big the animation industry is in UK and how beautiful Cornwall is.