Have you ever wondered of studying abroad? Furthering your knowledge and getting to experience it outside the country? But you’re still not sure about it because it’s a big leap. Of course, it’s not the easiest path to take (and the cheapest, right?), yet you can’t shake off the possibility and how much you want to experience it. We know this is such a big investment for your time and money, so we want to help you decide if this will be the next right move for your career.
We talked to a couple of go-getter Filipinas who hopped on the plane and studied a away from their home. We asked them from tips in preparation to what it was like living their dream in a foreign place. We’ll kick it off with Merie Clarete who took a short course in London. She's a banker by day, and a fashion designer on her leisure time. She believes in slow fashion and mindful exploring. Here’s our conversation with her:
1. What made you decide to study abroad?
Experience — I have always dreamt of knowing the feeling of studying abroad, culture-wise. However, what triggered is the short course that is not yet widely offered locally.
2. What course did you study and where? What made you decide to take that course in that particular institution?
Took up a short summer course on Sustainable Fashion Design from London College of Fashion (LCF). I would’ve chosen the course from Central Saint Martins but due to budget constraint, I chose LCF. Regardless, I have chosen to study in London because UK is one of the spearheads on having this sustainable fashion conversations and projects — for instance, Fashion Revolution, started in the UK.
3. What preparations did you do for the application process? Any tips on how and what to prepare?
Applying for short course in LCF is rather easy - easier than my college application locally. Haha. I have been trying to inform myself on Sustainable Fashion, hence I just banked on what I already know, plus it’s the main reason why I enrolled — to deep-dive on it. What I really applied and prepared for is the UK visa. Since my course is just less than three months, a visitor visa already sufficed. I prepared what is just required and had no problems in getting the visa.
4. Can you give us a ballpark figure of how much to save when applying for a study abroad program?
I spent ~Php120,000 for the study expenses including fare. Expenses outside studying is another figure. Haha! I have relatives in London so I was able to save up a major chunk on accom but there are affordable hostels/dorm-types in London! I looked for some which offers Php800/bed/night.
5. What does your day-to-day life in London look like?
I was jet-lagged for most days. Haha! But my day starts at 7AM, do my prayer and devotion for an hour, then breakfast and prep for class, then I leave at 8AM. Take the tube. I arrive at LCF at 9AM and head straight to the library — I LOVE their fashion books selection hence made it a point to come to school earlier than my schedule. My class starts at 10AM and finish off at 4PM. I have an hour lunch break — and yes I bring my own “baon” or lunch, but I buy coffee and try to explore the nearby coffee shops (hahaha, I LOVE COFFEE btw). After class, I still go to the library and explore and read the books!! At around 5PM or 6PM, I meet up with my cousin and most days, we spend the rest of the daylight exploring museums. Aaaah! I love London’s museums and galleries!!
6. What are the things you did to explore and maximize your stay in London?
Visa is good for six months so I stayed for four weeks. During the school days, I explored museums after class and passed by those typical London tourist attractions (e.g. Tower Bridge, London Eye, St Paul’s, etc.). I’m not a museum geek but they’ve always been my source of inspo plus knowing that works of the infamous artists are housed in some London museums, I took advantage of it. Lucky that Picasso was on exhibit during my stay. My stay wasn’t even enough to explore!! On weekends — got to explore Bath, Stonehedge, and Brighton. Of course went on coffee shop hunting/hopping, flea market, second hand book shopping, and ensured to watch a West End musical — A MUST. Of course, tea.
7. Best thing you've learned about yourself while being away from home?
I have been a solo traveler for years, but studying abroad made me realize that I feel more open when abroad. I think I really like talking and hearing from people I barely know on their culture and experience, this time more formally — most especially, I was exposed to a diverse class for days and coming from a developing nation. This experience also reiterated my love for expression most esp. on design.
8. What was the most helpful learning from your course that would propel your career?
My biggest learning would be how our choices on our lifestyle, most especially, on consumerism affects/impacts others and the environment, rooting from the supply chain/circularity of a product or service; career-wise, my design principles greatly changed — I learned to consider a LOT of MAJOR factors which are often ignored on designing a piece of clothing. It’s quite challenging as I’m mostly working on formal/wedding pieces. I am currently working on a sustainable fashion brand.
9. Can you share more tips with our co-daydreamers aspiring to study abroad?
Research first and really save up for it I mean like consider all factors. If you’ve got the means, go for it, it’s a totally new and enriching experience. I personally believe for artists and designers, exposing oneself to cultures outside our own will help us in our endeavor.
10. What's next for you after studying abroad?
I am still looking at taking up short courses abroad on specializations and techniques still related to design and sustainability. And of course as my manager at my day job told me, there must be ROI on it — in my case by making people aware on fashion sustainability and circularity.
Merie's World Map-Custom Colors (click to shop)