How I Chose My Program

Rebecca Shaefer
Graphic Design Major
Book Arts in Europe, Summer I 2017

May 2, 2017 

I have half a month until departure time for Europe and the fact that I’m going and it’s actually happening is finally setting in. With finals week out of the way and a sudden end of incoming homework I have time to think about the trip. I have two thoughts; first of all, I am beyond excited. I cannot be more thankful for having this opportunity, and a huge thanks to my family for their full support well as a thanks to the Frostic School of Art for their scholarships. A few weeks from today I will be traveling from country to country and creating plus learning a heck ton, and experiencing new places and people every day. All of the “new” triggers my second thought: barriers. I am nervous to be in all of these foreign places and to be surrounded by foreign languages. I have never taken Italian or German, so YouTube will be my best friend for the next few weeks to teach me the most basic of phrases. Even so, I hope I do not get lost and have only my few weeks of training to save me. Other than the language and new location barrier, I am still overwhelmed with joy and excitement to be going.

    I decided on this location for study abroad because of the content of the trip. We will be traveling in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands with an emphasis on paper making, print making and type setting. We will make our own paper and create prints using traditional methods of printing, such as etching and relief prints. We will visit libraries, museums and exhibitions including Firenze Arti Visive in Florence, the Cini Foundation the 57th International Art Biennale in Venice, Tipoteca Italiana Fondazione in Cornuda, Italy, the Basler Papiermühle and Druckwerk in Basel, Switzerland, the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany, the Gravemaker+Scott Studio in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp.

    I was influenced to go on this trip, because Jeff Abshear, an instructor at Western, visited our typography class to give a detailed explanation of the trip. My design professor, Martin Burch, also influenced this decision. They made the point that even though you can visit these places after school, you will not be able to learn in the same way as the opportunities on this trip. I would not have other opportunities to spend a month there and work with master print makers, as well as see their studios. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

   After I had decided for myself that I wanted to go, the next thing was to tell my family and figure out the practical things. I visited home and gave them the same PowerPoint that I had received, and told them the contact information for study abroad. My Mom’s first reaction was concerns about safety – who would be going, is there anyone that can speak the languages, how many students are attending, how many faculties are attending (all questions that mom’s want to know the answer to immediately). My Dad was more concerned about payment, what scholarships were available, etc. Overall, they were approving on my going. They had a lot of questions about the trip, but were mostly excited about the opportunities that Western had to offer me.

I now leave in 16 days, and will be posting short blogs and pictures regularly once I am in Europe.

Stay tuned.


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