A solo adventure among lots of new friends

A new perspective on film and arts from another culture, new international friends, and a journey of self-discovery. Image and Media Technology student Puck de Haan clearly gained a lot during her exchange studies in Karlsruhe, for which she received an Erasmus+ grant via HKU. 'The teachers were great, each with their own backgrounds and particular knowledge.'
A solo adventure among lots of new friends
Puck can now look back on a special adventure, when she replaced her regular studies at HKU with six months of studying at the German arts academy HfG Karlsruhe: ‘It is incredibly interesting to look at arts from the perspective of another culture. In Germany, they have a much more free and unrestricted view. It showed me that art must sometimes clash, cause friction and may even be ugly. Studying in a new town also gave me a whole new circle of friends. Although I also enjoyed being on my own once in a while. The journey gave me the space to find out who I am. Rediscovering myself, not in the ways I was doing so in the Netherlands, but during an actual solo adventure. It gave me a stronger foothold and I’ve developed a much more curious attitude.’

Lighting up the city

While studying abroad, Puck jumped on everything she could get her hands on. ‘I became so enthusiastic about the mandatory film classes that I started taking classes that didn’t even get me any study credits. Purely out of curiosity. The teachers were awesome, each with their own specific backgrounds and particular knowledge. I was also participating in various exhibitions and events. For one of them, my fellow students and I were lighting up the city with projections of our works, for the event Go-Public, by Karlsruhe AfG and UNESCO City Of Media Arts. For this, I made a film in which my international friends shared their experiences about immigration. I created and animated their projected faces with the use of AI.’

Projection made by Puck for the 'Karlsruhe City Of Media Arts Go-Public'.

Life in Karlsruhe

In short time, Puck managed to gather a tight and large circle of friends. “My student life in Karlsruhe was a very social time. We had a nice Erasmus group with people from Italy, Estonia, France, the USA, Israel and Spain. Everyone was so welcoming. I gained friends from both Germany as well as other countries. The city itself doesn’t have that many clubs or bars, so we had to rely on our own initiatives as art students. Everyone was constantly busy with traveling, making art, exhibiting and organising workshops, seminars and movie nights. By doing this as a group, we quickly felt a sense of community. This made me feel right at home. One of the best moments was when we spontaneously decided to all go to Paris for the exhibition of a fellow student. Once there, we stayed for a full week to check out many other exhibitions. The visit to La Biennale Di Venezia was another remarkable moment. I travelled together with an American exchange student. Two whole days on a train ride through Germany, Switzerland and Italy. The two of us had only just met, but still we became friends very quickly.’

The visit to La Biennale di Venezia.

Puck’s traveling tips

The Erasmus+ grant is an allowance to cover traveling and accommodation costs for international study projects. For other students who are also considering to go abroad, Puck has a few useful tips. ‘Inform yourself properly about the grants you can call upon, because there are many options. Such a grant is nice to have, but still you have to keep in mind that there might be unforeseen extra costs. Make sure you have some savings to fall back on. Furthermore, I would recommend to explore your destination in advance a bit. For example, I had already arranged a room when I arrived. This took off some of the tension and freed my mind for more feelings of enthusiasm and amazement. You should also check if you need to learn the language. In my case it was handy, because not everyone in Karlsruhe can speak English that well. And so, I enhanced my German skills a bit in advance, and it only got better and better during my stay.’