We caught up with BA (Hons) Creative Advertising student Melissa about studying in the UK, what inspires her work and her plans after graduation...  

Why did you choose Leeds Arts University?    

I’ve always wanted to go to an art school because I enjoy being surrounded by other creative people that I can get feedback and inspiration from.  Specifically, Leeds Arts University that has produced a lot of amazing people who I look up to. One of these people is Victor Sloan whose work with photography sparked my interest in studying the visual arts.

What made you select Creative Advertising?

Art and Design is able to affect people’s opinions and perceptions. Creative advertising is a form of that, it reaches the masses and being able to influence an audience with my ideas is inspiring.

What do you really enjoy about your programme and the University?

I enjoy the style of teaching, which encourages teamwork and continual feedback from my course mates and lecturers. The University does not restrict its resources to a particular course or programme, so I can freely access all of the University’s facilities.

There are important differences in the way art and design is taught in the UK compared to other countries. What have you noticed regarding the learning experience at Leeds Arts University?

The University does not restrict its resources to a particular course or programme, so I can freely access all of the University’s facilities. I enjoy the style of teaching, which encourages teamwork and continual feedback from my course mates and lecturers, this not only helps me develop my work but also grow in my confidence. You spend three years with the faculty who really invest time in you. And I think what makes it even more special is that it’s a small, intimate community. For someone who is an independent worker and really motivated there isn’t a better choice.

How have you adjusted to life in the UK and what advice would you give a new international student?

I’ve grown to understand the systems well and integrated into society quite easily! Of course there is a lot of support for international students in and around the University, even from the other universities close by. Although, at first when living outside student halls, I’ve realised it is difficult to figure things like (paying bills, council tax) outside of a family supports system. But the University has been helpful in following up and offering support whether it is in schoolwork or home life, as well as organising events for international students within the University to come together and bond.

My advice would be to join as many societies as you can! You’ll find people from similar backgrounds especially in the Leeds University, where I met a lot of new people through the Leeds East African society and their connections. Being involved in different activities or groups was probably what worked best for me!

What are you currently working on - what area do you specialise in?

My strength is in the presentation of my designs, but I’m currently working on expanding my creative thinking techniques to create more diverse ideas. I’m improving on concepts for briefs that I had already done and received feedback from.

Do you feel that studying at Leeds Arts University is preparing you well for life after graduation? What do you plan to do when you finish?

Definitely! The University is always bringing in professionals from different industries of whom we can talk to and make connections with. Also there are career track sessions that help prepare the students for postgraduate studies, developing CVs as well as portfolios and advice on starting a business. Not to mention all the real live briefs that offer internship opportunities at respected firms and create major recognition for our work.

I plan to undertake a postgraduate qualification in Canada before I embark on an advertising career in Tanzania.

Tell us what you like about Leeds?

I love the fact that Leeds is a vibrant and modern city. It is very convenient for student life, and there’s always something happening so I rarely get bored.