Kelvin is studying towards his MA Graphic Communication in Cardiff. He has shared some of his experiences as a student living in Wales:
I first learned about the University of South Wales when I went to visit the offices of PFL, the educational agents in Lagos. The USW representative, Mr Bassey, showed me the information about the MA Graphic Communication course and I realised that it contained everything that I wanted. It is a very designed focussed course and I particularly liked the emphasis on communication and the branding elements of the course.
I have found the whole approach to Graphics at USW to be very different to how the subject is approached in Nigeria. Here there is much more emphasis on the process: you don’t only submit your final work, but show the process that you went through to reach that end point. This is key, and is directly related to your success in employment after graduation, as clients and design companies will expect you to show examples of the design process. I also had to learn new software and applications upon joining this course – I moved from using Microsoft packages to using a Mac – and had to develop my skills. Despite the approaches being different between the two countries, after a few attempts, I found it easy to adapt to the new system. In fact, a gospel artist client of mine back in Nigeria has even commented on how my work has changed and developed since I joined my course!
I was very much helped by the teaching staff on my course. From the first day, they have been so very nice and understanding: they guide you; help you; listen to your ideas and thoughts. And even if you go to them with personal questions, they will still help you! Even if you need to ask the same question five times, they’ll still be there for you! They care about you and about your work – I would rank them as the best lecturers I’ve ever had, and my Course Leader, Gareth, is my inspiration.
The highlight of my academic year has been when I was asked by my Course Leader to help the Undergraduate students prepare for their end of year show – I was the only MA student to be asked, and I was speechless! I have been working with them on branding their show, and have learned so much from being involved in this.
Outside of studying, I have also had a great social experience in this lovely environment in Cardiff. I have made some great friends, and I even spent Christmas at my friend’s house in a nearby town with his family. Everyone is so friendly in Wales! Cardiff has many coffee shops, places to relax, and when the sun is out, I enjoy going to the local park, visiting Cardiff Bay, amusement parks or going to the beach. There is so much to do here.
If I had to give advice to any other Nigerian students who are considering studying a creative course, then I would encourage them to come to the University of South Wales. Also, you will be surprised when you arrive how much people appreciate you bringing your own cultural experience, and a fresh perspective to the subject. But be prepared to learn – there’s a lot to learn in just one year!
My course finishes in September 2015, and I had hoped to get a job at an agency. However, I know how competitive it can be, so I would like to first benefit from an internship in the UK, to gain professional experience, learn from the industry, and learn the skills that I can take back to Nigeria. I already completed a two week internship, where I worked with the Head of Graphics at a private agency and learned so much, not only about design and print techniques, but also about how a professional graphics company is run.
Honestly, I never imagined that I could do so well academically; studying MA Graphic Communications is so much fun, and I’m so pleased that I can show my mum how well I’m doing here and make her proud.