A few months ago, Schwäbisch Gmünd was just another frightening German word that made very little sense to my simple Aussie mouth. This would however, turn out to be the German town where I would be spend a semester studying product design.
Having failed to find accomodation prior to my arrival, I was stepping into this foreign town without a place to sleep. Although it was uncertain where exactly I was going or who would be there to receive me, I was quietly confident in the hospitality of the locals.
My ‘buddy’ Lea, ended up being the one to put her hand up to house me. Lea is an absolute legend. I slept in the loft of her share-house for a fortnight while I searched for accomodation. This ended up being an extremely positive experience because she was able to help me get settled and introduce me to some of her friends. Even now that I am living in my own place, she is continually inviting me to events and keeping me involved in the local lifestyle (this weekend is the ‘weisswustfrühstuck’ which basically means we get together in the morning and eat sausages and drink beer)
There are about 20 other exchange students studying at the Hochschule für Gestaltung (University of Design) and we have quickly become a tight-knit family. Constant messages in the WhatsApp group going back and forth with people arranging outings and hangouts.
The study has been insightful also. The German approach to design in quite different to Sydney. The first few weeks of class have been ‘research free weeks’… so basically research is prohibited! The idea is that there is a lot of information already in your mind, and if you jump straight into the research, you might not have an opportunity to explore that unique perspective; instead your thoughts will become clouded by other ideas and perspectives.
I have also heard that in the first year of study, the students aren’t allowed to use colour. Getting an alternative perspective on design study has been enlightening after only two weeks of it. I’m excited to really get into the nitty gritty of our projects.
I’m going to a design festival in Milan next week with some friends that I have made in the exchange group. Unexpected opportunities like this are becoming the norm, it’s just a matter of saying yes!
Daniel Ferreira, 12046708, B. Integrated Product Design & B. Creative Intelligence and Innovation, Hochschule für Gestaltung Schwäbisch Gmünd