During my childhood I looked up to my mother and grandmother who sewed pieces together into a garment; the process of making and wearing your own creation inspired me to do the same. I got fascinated by the way a piece gets a life through the story/ character of the creator/ wearer. And I wanted to do the same.
As soon as I started high school (Het Lyceum Rotterdam) in 2010 I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry. But first I had to go through the whole (supposedly 6 years) period of high school… Luckily it wasn’t the worst time of my life, because the school payed a lot of attention to the arts and the process of creating which was very useful and important to me.
In my pre-graduate year (2014-2015) I began to visit Open Days in order to opt for the best bachelor program. Even though I knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to major in Fashion Design at the Willem de Kooning Academy (WdKA), I felt the pressure to also look at the more academic/ studious bachelor programs. So I did and went to get information on the Art History and History majors, subjects that are close to my interests, but I wasn’t that impressed…
A year later, my graduate year, I arranged an appointment to a portfolio check at WdKA. At the event I remember being very nervous about showing my work to a strange teacher, because I always had in mind that teachers from art academies would be really harsh with their criticism to make students burst out in tears…
Looking back I think he had a fairly nice way of giving feedback which I appreciated. At the conclusion of our talk, the teacher whose facial features I do not recall apart from his blackish green spectacle frame, gave me a brochure with the acronym RASL (Rotterdam Arts & Science Lab) displayed. He told me it might be ” a nice thing” to look into because I told him about my other “more academic” study options.
When I got home I immediately visited the website of RASL to see what this “thing” might be. But in all honesty the website did not look so inviting, nor was it very informative. The only clear thing for me was that this was a special program for students who would like to combine Arts with Sciences… a double degree program.
After discovering what the “Sciences” part of RASL exactly entails by doing some research on the websites of both institutions (WdKA and Erasmus University), I became excited and anxious at the thought of doing a double degree. It sounded like a challenging and insightingful experience, a nice way to get familiar with different perspectives within the arts and culture sector. But it also sounded like a hard time with a high study load…
After a few months of thinking about actually nothing, I decided to enroll to both institutions and just hope for the best to come. During my final exams I was no focused on anything at all. I just wanted to start my new life in this double degree “thing”.
And the results…
I failed my exams.
It was devastating, but I knew that I did not put in the effort as I should have done. I also knew that I got accepted into the double degree program, but I had to redo my graduate year after the summer first…
Here I am again.
The eyes of students that I only recognized by face settled on my appearance. “Who is this girl with half blue – half black braided hair?” Is what I thought they would think of me while I walked in the classroom 15 minutes late.
What a great start of the year.
Fortunately I knew a couple of students from earlier years at school that I could reach out to. But the voice in my head felt so sorry for me that I had to do another year in high school while the rest of my friends were living their best lives.
During this year (2017) I was focused on just one thing which was getting out of this school. I loved it, but it has been 7 years and that was a bit too much. Looking back I must say that I did not seem to be interested in getting to know my new classmates, or to have enjoyed the year. Maybe because I had my mind set on just graduating. But at the end of the year I found myself actually… kind of enjoying the people and myself.
I wrote my exams with way more ease compared to the previous year. With knowing that I already got accepted to the RASL program, the results were the only thing I anticipated.
The eyes of students, teachers, families and others were all on me while my mentor congratulated me and wished me good luck with my studies. I will never forget the words she said about me during her speech:
”Meliange, a girl with a positive, no nonsense attitude who knows what she wants.”