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Reviewing Erasmus Blogs

Tia Bryant

I’ve decided to review Tia Bryant’s blog because she is a fellow Photography student, but has chosen a different enhancement year path; Professional Enhancement. I thought it would be interesting to compare similarities and differences between our experiences, and how they might benefit us individually when we return to studying Photography at stage 3.

The main experience that it seems we have both shared is a growth in our confidence. In Tia’s very first blog post, she explains how finding an available, appropriate, or paid work placement to fill her enhancement year was near impossible. From her writing I could sense that this was a stressful time, and she even says she’s ‘not great at talking about [herself]’. I shared similar feelings with Tia at the start of the Erasmus year, and found writing a blog about myself and my time in The Netherlands a little embarrassing.

Shortly after, though, you can sense an honest development in Tia’s personal growth. She talks of her time at Kenilworth arts festival, and how she spoke with a fellow photographer ‘for almost an hour’ about each other’s practice and explains that she noticed an air of confidence in herself that ceased to exist before. I noticed personal development in myself at around a similar time into the enhancement year, where shared studio space with fellow artists allowed for valuable, personal ‘connections about and through art’, as Tia says. These small and differing, but productive steps appear to have improved us both as creative individuals, especially in terms of self-belief.

One key difference between mine and Tia’s enhancement year is that she has engaged in many more practical applications for work as a Photographer (of course – as she has taken the Professional Enhancement path). Opportunities such as the RISING Global Peace Forum, Beat Walk and Talk Event, John White Photography Class and Wedding Photography have granted her some useful insights into industry, as well as building up her portfolio and networks. I have experienced some similar insights into practical applications for me as an artist, through participation in producing work for the Third Year Expo and soon, creating and curating Do Not Touch for June Days. Despite this, my enhancement year has very much been focused on creating conceptual bodies of visual art, as well as – of course – studying and attending class. It’s fascinating to see how we have benefitted from our different enhancement years in such similar, personal ways, despite the differences in the types of years we have experienced. It’s also interesting to read each of our blogs and understand the different paths we may be seeming to take in professional careers after university, and the creative applications of each of our photographic practices.

Joe Scotting /

I've chosen to review Joe Scotting's blog for many reasons, including that he is also a part of the MPA International Enhancement year, but began studying in a country with a very different culture to both England and The Netherlands, where I am studying. Another reason I have chosen to review Joe's experience is because the majority of his blog takes the form of a vlog-style video for his Youtube channel. This method differs from most of the MPA International Enhancement year students, and is a reflection of his practice as a Journalist. Videos such as Scotting’s Fake France Special and Scotting and Bom Wei Power Hour encapsulate his comedic and informative style that I predict is consistently present throughout his Journalism, and successfully captivated me as an audience. It almost feels like a slightly more informal and even endearing way of providing insight into what he’s experienced during his Erasmus year.

Something I really appreciate about Joe’s blog is his honestly about his negative experiences during his time in China, and his optimism to see how it has bettered him as an individual. Whilst I have been fortunate enough to avoid room sharing, cockroaches, and cold running water after 8.30am, it was strangely comforting to know that I’m not the only one who has experienced some emotional blows this year. It is refreshing to read something authentic and revealing about an Erasmus experience that doesn’t only disclose the positive aspects, and a reminder that we’re all human, and upping and leaving to another country all by yourself for a year was never going to be completely easy. For me this was reassuring, and I respected his openness about his mental health experience, as I’m sure it’s something many of us can relate to.

As well as this, it is great to hear that despite his struggles in Hangzhou, he has vastly improved his video editing skills through running his vlog, as well as being offered a job by his news lecturer because of the quality of his work. It was inspiring to read that his Erasmus year has still greatly benefitted him, despite getting off to a miserable and demotivating start. Although I’ve not spoken in detail about the negative experiences I’ve personally had whilst being away, I resonate with his struggles and growth, and agree that they have also bettered me as an individual.

Hannah Bolt

Hannah Bolt is also a fellow Photography student from Coventry University, and chose the route of the Professional International Enhancement year. The first thing I noted from Hannah's blog was, like Joe, her honesty and realness when talking about her experiences on the Erasmus year. Again, I really appreciated this, and often resonated with the truth that this year was never going to be easy. As well as this, I also really related to some of her experiences with new methodologies, mediums and ways of working with art, as well as her experiences with potential clients or industry networks. For example, she talks about her time working with Phoebe Davies during the summer, where she was encouraged to leave her comfort zone and experiment with performance. Much like Hannah, I really struggle with performative work or any kind of public presentation, and I, too, have pushed myself to try new performative methods of creating during the enhancement year (see Terug Naar Het Begin blog post). It seems that trying this new way of working, and expanding our knowledge has benefitted us both on a personal level, as well as within our practice; allowing us to become more confident with taking centre-stage, and opening new doors for our creative work.

Similarly, Hannah's experience with 'selling herself' and rejection from industry professionals and potential collaborators or clients, is something I also relate to. Experiences such as my Third Year Expo evoked worry and fear of rejection in me, as well as the feeling of not being 'good enough' or 'as good as everyone else' - whatever those two things mean. It seems we've both been startled this year with the realisation that diving into the art-world after university isn't going to be plain-sailing, nor is it going to be filled with acceptance and praise. Whilst on the surface this is somewhat demotivating, it appears that Hannah and I both have built at least some resilience and confidence throughout the duration of this year, which will greatly aid us in our lives after graduation.

It's great to see that Hannah's been keeping up a sketchbook, and I'd love to hear some more about her internship!

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