Pursuing an education in Fine Arts was “instinctual” for Jillian Ballas. Since she was little, her parents fostered creativity and gave her multiple opportunities to act on it however she’d like. It wasn’t long until Ballas realised that she wanted to turn her passion into a career.
At Norwich University of the Arts (NUA), that’s exactly what she’s doing. Looking back at the application process, Ballas remembers everything –– even the interview. There, she was told that by choosing NUA, she would be able to explore different mediums and truly identify her artistic calling in the process. “I’m doing sculpture this year and I love it!” she enthuses.
“I would not have known that if I’d had to go in saying I want to do painting. I love how the tutors encourage you to try different perspectives and they encourage you to go bigger in your work, to try things you’d never thought of. They’re really verbal and really hands-on with helping you.”
This expert guidance helped broaden her horizons to various types of art. Since joining, she has been inspired to express herself in ways that help others, spending most of her time on environmental-based work. She’s currently making plaster mosicas of nature and healing it with moss, much like the practice of “Kintsugi” –– a Japanese philosophy where they fill broken pottery with gold.
Her most rewarding project to date was also the most challenging. “Every single step of the way, there was a hurdle I had to overcome or use to my advantage,” she explains. “If I didn’t know what to do I would ask the technicians, they’re very knowledgeable and they’ll help you with whatever you need.”
When asked about the other advantages international students have to gain by choosing NUA, Ballas expresses that affordability was a perk that caught her attention. “One big thing is the cost – usually art schools in the US can be a lot more expensive so that’s a really good incentive,” she explains. “For a really good price you get the option of living abroad, so at a young age you’re able to explore different places, perspectives and cultures,” she says.
An NUA experience truly is accessible to all. Start with the fact that Norwich has been ranked by the Times Higher Education (2018) as the second most affordable student city in the UK. The university also offers a range of scholarships for international students. Amongst the lineup are merit-based options for both aspiring undergraduates and postgraduates worth up to 3,000 pounds. American students are eligible to receive Federal loans for study.
Where experts create experts
The NUA’s faculty boasts talented practitioners — Roter Su is a perfect example. A freelance filmmaker, he shares his expertise in the NUA MA Moving Image and Sound and BA (Hons) Film and Moving Image Production programmes. Su has a wide range of interests in film, photography, music, and art — each of which he continues to expand his skills in.
His students see him more than just a lecturer or filmmaker. He is a friend they can trust. “The way I see the teaching approach at NUA is that we aim to foster a reciprocal environment not only for students but also for lecturers,” he explains. “This means, in the class, not only students learn new things from me, but I am also inspired by their creative thoughts and work.”
BA (Hons) Games Art and Design student, Kyra Vergho, commends the university for forging strategic connections. Through these, students gain direct access to their dream industries. “They bring in guest speakers who are current industry professionals. They really push us to make connections and reach out,” she says. “Studying at NUA means that you’ll be surrounded by people with similar interests and ideas as you, so it’s really cool to see what being a part of a community like that can do.”
Surroundings that inspire
England’s first UNESCO City of Literature. Home to the UK’s National Writing Centre. An annual summer soiree that fills streets, parks, galleries, and theatres with artists, musicians, and performers from across the globe — otherwise known as the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. There’s no better place to immerse yourself in the arts than in the city of Norwich, with its long, proud history of creativity, performance, and storytelling.
“I just love the look of the city – the beautiful buildings, the architecture, the cobblestone streets,” shares Micah Moreland from the US. “I think it’s crazy that part of the campus looks like Hogwarts! I can’t believe I go to school here!”
Moreland lives in student housing All Saints Green, where the rooms are spacious and the communal spaces are amazing. Here, he gets to celebrate birthdays, join game nights and have a supportive community beyond his coursemates. Plus, it’s a convenient — only 15 minutes — and nice walk from here to everywhere you need to go for school.
“Everyone’s really inviting and welcoming, and considerate,” Moreland enthuses. Fellow American student, Tara Mayo, agrees. “It didn’t take me that long to get comfortable here. I was really proud of myself for being able to adapt and learn so many new things.”