Emmanuel students learn on location, wherever they may be! Adam is spending his spring semester in London, taking classes, volunteering, exploring and gaining a new cultural perspective.
Art history and graphic design major Adam ’17 describes his decision to study abroad as “one of the biggest leaps of faith” he has ever taken, but he wouldn’t have had it any other way. He is spending the spring 2016 semester at Richmond, the American International University in London, and “going across the pond without a life preserver” has both elevated his academic experience and built his confidence and character when facing new situations.
“I have always wanted to travel to Europe and see and experience artwork and cultures in a way that truly transcends the limits of a PowerPoint slide in a classroom. I think with such a culturally-founded subject as art history, you need these experiences abroad that give such a beautiful dynamic to your studies.”
Adam initially hoped to study graphic design at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany, but as his academic interests shifted toward art history, he set his sights on Paris, the origin of many art movements in which he is interested. Language barriers, as many courses were taught in French, led him to his third choice—London.
“I kind of fell into this particular school and program accidentally, but after being here, I know it was no accident,” he said. “I was definitely meant to come here, and I have enjoyed every second of this beautiful city. I guess I didn’t choose London outright, but I’m glad it chose me.”
Adam is taking four courses at Richmond: a studio course, two art history courses and a service-learning opportunity at the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertisement, which examines consumer culture from Victorian era to the present day. In the studio course, Off the Wall, Adam and classmates construct art installations, or works that are literally “off the wall.” Through the once-weekly service-learning course, he helps facilitate workshops at the museum and takes particular enjoyment working with kids—many of who are fascinated that he is from the U.S.
But he’s taken most interest in his art history courses, British Art and Architecture and Museums and Galleries of London, which have expanded his studies from his usual focus in contemporary art to the British art world and the historical and social contexts that shaped it.
“It’s fantastic, getting to study not only from the perspective of a different country and its professors, but also getting to learn about cultures and people that aren’t taught in America,” he said.
At Richmond, Adam lives in a dormitory on the University’s Kensington campus, just a five-minute walk from the food and shopping hub of High Street, and from public transit stations that carry him to landmarks and attractions just a few stops away. He’s also enjoyed exploring London’s many museums, all of which are free to the public, seeing works that he’s only seen “on a slide, in a classroom halfway around the world.”
As Richmond is an institution that is popular with students studying abroad, Adam lives and learns alongside students from all over the United States, as well as other parts of Europe. He has also made some friends who will be nearby when he returns to campus—three other Emmanuel students studying at the same university.
“When we arrived, we kind of gravitated toward each other for familiarity, and now we’re very good friends,” he said. “Sometimes it takes flying halfway across the world to bring you closer to someone who probably lived right down the hall from you last semester.”
Adam has also been enjoying the perks of traveling inexpensively within Europe and has visited Paris and Berlin, with trips to Athens and Lisbon planned for the coming weeks. But even more important than sightseeing and coursework, Adam said, is the personal growth he has experienced.
“I live about 40 minutes from Emmanuel, and I had never traveled outside the country or even left the East Coast. I was incredibly nervous to be away from anything familiar for so long. I have been in a situation more than once where I would have loved to call my mom and ask for help, but I had to be an adult and assess it effectively on my own.”
As much as he is enjoying London, Adam is also eager to get back to Emmanuel—and the faculty and students in the art department, in particular—in the fall.
“My months in England have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but at the same time, so is attending Emmanuel,” he said. “You will not find a bigger advocate for our art department than me. It’s small enough that everyone knows everyone, and we’ve developed these personal bonds and friendships.”
Adam credits his advisor, Professor of Art Cynthia Fowler, for his love of art history and as the role model who has influenced him more than any other in his years of schooling.
“I admire how intelligent and forward thinking she is, and I feel like I learn something new from her every day. We keep in touch via e-mail as I tell her of all my adventures, but I can’t wait to be back and show her what I’ve done and learned.”
Interested in Art History?
At Emmanuel College, art history students study painters, sculptors, architects and other artists from Ancient Egypt to the present, learning to not only to analyze creative works, but also to ask broader questions about the place and role of the arts in human history. Students take an interdisciplinary approach, considering art objects not only in relation to history but also to the politics, economics and societal and cultural values of the time period in which they were created. Boston's notable art museums and opportunities for travel abroad allow for closer examination and deeper understanding of both the art and the artist.