Spending a semester abroad was the most inspirational, exciting experience of my life. It opened my eyes to a whole new culture, and I met people from all around the world. I got to experience a new lifestyle and learn about different approaches to design.
More about Lydia
What do you enjoy most about your course?
“I enjoy being able to develop my personal style of work through pattern cutting and manufacturing. The course really allowed me to push my creative boundaries.”
Has the course included any live projects that you really enjoyed?
“In my second year, we did a live industry project with River Island. This allowed me to experience a different approach to design, and also to understand how the industry works after university. I was also able to network and gain contacts for future work opportunities.”
Has the course included any speakers that you really enjoyed?
“We have had previous students come back and speak about their successes which gave us further inspiration to work hard. We’ve also had speakers from industry such as TU and Next which provided a good opportunity to ask about employment, work placements, or internships.”
What do you think about the course staff?
“The wide range of staff in each department provide guidance and advice when needed. In my final year, I wanted to combine elements outside the fashion design area, including print. The course staff were so helpful and helped me to develop my drawings into prints across a range of my final garments. Help is there when you are struggling in certain areas – all you have to do is ask.”
How do you find the facilities available to you?
“The fashion department has excellent facilities, providing us with all the equipment we need to make our final collection. The studios are also a good working space with all its machinery. Macs are also available downstairs, fully equipped with the Adobe software.”
Have you completed any work placements?
“I did a summer placement with a company called Visage in Manchester where I worked in both the menswear and womenswear design teams. This gave me a good insight into how big companies develop their next season’s collection. I also did work on researching trends, competitors and target markets.”
Lydia also spent a semester abroad at Hong Kong Polytechnic University in her second year.
What did you study there?
“I spent four months at Hong Kong Polytechnic University on the fashion design course which covered portfolios and pattern cutting. I learned how to develop my research into designs, and they were very open to individuality and appreciated people’s different approaches to design. I didn’t really know what to expect but it was better than anything I expected. The campus was massive, modern and clean. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and there were always daily events to get us involved in the local culture and lifestyle.”
How was your overall experience of your semester abroad?
“Spending a semester abroad was the most inspirational, exciting experience of my life. It opened my eyes to a whole new culture, and I met people from all around the world. I got to experience a new lifestyle and learn about different approaches to design.”
Can you tell us about the type of support you received?
“I won the £4,000 Shirley Chan International Exchange Scholarship which covered my flights, accommodation and living costs. This was amazing because I didn’t have to worry about money as it was all covered, so I was able to enjoy the full experience there.”
What did you get up to in your spare time?
“In my spare time, I explored Hong Kong with other exchange students – we went on hikes and visited the beach and waterfalls. We also visited loads of art and music exhibitions, and experienced street food and event joined in on Chinese New Year celebrations. There wasn’t a day or night where I wasn’t exploring somewhere new.”
What was the highlight of your trip?
“The highlight of my trip was visiting the fabric area in Sham Shui Po, which was street markets full of fabrics and trims. I would go most weekends and explore the area, picking up bits for my final collection. I couldn’t get enough of it.”
What was the most valuable lesson you learnt whilst on your exchange and would you recommend it to other students?
“Try everything and visit as many places as possible. Be confident and speak to everyone, and get to know people, as this is what you build your experience on. Try and get involved with the locals and learn about their culture – they always love to chat to visitors.”