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Student exchange: Xiao Liangzi at Kyoto Seika University

A young Asian woman shot against a green outdoor background
A young Asian woman shot against a green outdoor background

Written by
Kat Smith
Published date
04 May 2021

Xiao Liangzi, a BA Fine Art Photography student at Camberwell College of Arts, took part in a 6 month study exchange at Kyoto Seika University in Japan from April to October 2020.

Looking back on her time spent in Japan, Liangzi says there are too many highlights to pick just one from:

“The whole experience was extremely valuable to me. It’s already had a good effect on how I think and work.”

Learning new skills

During her exchange, Liangzi tried soft ground etching and dry point, as well as traditional Japanese techniques in paper making and ceramic.

She also had the chance to learn more video and audio skills, alongside animation and building her own website. When teaching went online due to COVID-19, the technicians at Kyoto Seika University sent students materials to continue trying out new techniques.

Two prints hanging on a white wall
Liangxi's work created while in Japan © Xiao Liangxi
A framed print against a white backrgound
Etching created by Liangxi while in Japan © Xiao Liangxi

Growing as a person

While Liangzi learned a lot of technical skills in Japan, she says it also helped her grow as a person: “I can say that the exchange experience is beyond important, not only to my degree and career, but it’s also forming the ways I perceive the world and interact with it - including how I think of and understand my work and future career.”

She also made great friends while in Kyoto - as a farewell gift, the friends in her accommodation wrote letters with drawings.

Stationary paper and envelope illustrated and written on
Farewell letters and drawings from Liangzi’s friends
A group of 6 young Asian people taken in front of a residential building, with a sign on the wall in Japanese
Xiao Liangzi, fourth from the left, with friends in Kyoto.

Support and keeping connected

The combination of the pandemic, missing friends, and having to adjust to new surroundings and a new language meant that there was a time where Liangzi struggled.

"I was frustrated and tired, and started to lose vitality, which I knew was not right. So, I pushed myself to actively build connections with people and maintain the connections I already have, and also recharge and get energy from nature. Though the process was painful, there was a certain point I knew I climbed out."

Living abroad can be exciting and stimulating, but we understand that it can also be overwhelming. If you’re looking to go abroad on an international study exchange or placement, we will support you with all stages of the process, from the initial application to your return flight home.

"UAL provided the best support for me on the exchange. The team was excellent with coordinating and giving very helpful advice on, for example, the return journey to the UK."

More information

If you’re interested in international study exchanges or placements, find out how to get started.

Think about the place you really want to go and prepare early.

— Xiao Liangzi