In September 2007 I packed my bags, said goodbye to my life in Sheffield and moved to CalArts (California Institute of the Arts) to study MFA Photo/Media. CalArts is 30 miles north of Los Angeles, in a suburban city called Valencia. I live on campus.
I’m here. I mean, I have been here for 3 months, and I feel settled now. It still feels quite bizarre, I can barely get my head around it. It’s been an ambition to come here for a long time, so although its been entirely expected, its still a shock.
I am one of six Brits here. Three are exchange students, and two are on undergraduate courses, one of them in the art school. I’m in a minority group, a loved minority. It’s very bizarre, I’ve just about got used to it, but the British accent is very popular, and therefore I am exotic.
I love the course. I’m doing MFA Photography & Media in the Art School. There are 10 students on MFA1 Photo, and 10 in the second year. There is a separate MFA Art programme, with 20 students per year. There is a certain amount of flow between the two courses, we can take each other’s classes, but they are different, with different Crits.
The campus is mad. It operates very differently to anywhere I have been before. For starters, there is a swimming pool that anyone can use between 7am-11pm. There is no dress code. By that I mean, swimsuit optional. I only ever go early in the morning before the naked swimmers get up. I am English after all.
The entire campus is 24 hour accessible. That includes the photography studios and darkroom – although you must check out a key and need to swipe your card to enter.
All Art and Photo graduate students have their own studio, with sky light. I love my studio and I have purchased a $130 sofa bed so I can sleep in here if my dorm room is noisy, or if I need to put a friend up.
Dogs are allowed everywhere on campus, except the library and cafe.
The whole place has an amazingly relaxed, friendly atmosphere, and I felt part of this place fairly quickly. I have only really settled into getting on with my practice in the last month though, the first month I mainly spent getting acclimatised and the second I met up with the faculty and got stuck into reading and researching. I am now making whilst hitting end of class deadlines, that seem to be coming at me thick and fast.