Christina B., Bachelor of Fine Arts (Visual Arts)
San Jose State University, USA (Semester 1, 2017)
Located in downtown San Jose, SJSU is part of a diverse local community. Being in the heart of Silicon Valley, tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Netflix have their headquarters nearby; there are large Hispanic and Vietnamese populations, with a great variety of restaurants and cultural celebrations on offer. Additionally, the progressive nature of the Bay Area results in lots of protests and community-organized events.
San Francisco is a little over an hour away by train and there are great hiking opportunities in redwood forests and open space preserves just a 30 minute drive away. Studying at SJSU gave me insight to both American college culture and Californian and the US life at large. I decided to live in a share-house off campus (to save a lot of money compared to on-campus housing and to have more independence), which meant I had even greater exposure to the day-to-day happenings in downtown San Jose.
My exchange was part of a Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts) program and the facilities and technical tuition available at SJSU were outstanding! They have a wood-shop, metal-casting foundry, glass hotand cold shops, ceramics studio and jewelry lab… amongst many other facilities.
The teaching style was very different to at QUT: attendance was graded; there was no separation between lecture and practical time as the same professor taught both across the same session; contact hours were high; and the coursework was more structured and broken down into many small projects, which was ideal for learning a variety of new technical skills.
One highlight during my time on exchange was having a solo exhibition in one of the student galleries on campus. I negotiated an independent project with one of my professors and built a ten and a half foot tall sculpture for an installation. (Side note – becoming familiar with imperial units versus the metric system took some getting used to!)
Student exhibition openings occurred on Tuesday nights from 6-9pm, immediately after a public talk by a visiting artist. The openings were a great way to network, catch up with friends, check out current art at SJSU and supplement one’s diet! The exhibition really increased my confidence in showing my work.
Through studying at SJSU I gained a lot of wonderful friends, professional contacts and skills in art. Being situated in a new environment, I gained a new perspective about Australian culture and myself, as well as learning about American culture in all its diversity.