blog

RESISTING MEDIOCRITY IN MY STUDIES

During the beginning of my first year as a RASL student I struggled with finding a balanced and efficient way to combine designing and studying simultaneously. I quickly learned that having a physical diary helped me stay  calm and organized throughout the amount of writing, reading, studying and designing I had to do. Though, I also had to learn how to actually follow my planning.

I often found myself getting stuck during the process of designing wondering how I could incorporate both studies in my work. I felt a lot of pressure trying to create something that was different compared to my peers who study solely at the academy. My tutors also told me that they expected more from me because of my studies at university and that I should not be mediocre.

As a RASL student I am really into researching and getting to the bottom of theories and phenomena that I find interesting to use as a starting point for my projects and designs. But, sometimes I get lost in the abundance of information during the period of researching that I ended up rushing through the last two weeks of designing and making the actual garment.

After the Christmas break the electives were held. A period in which the students at WdKA follow a two-week course in which they either explore new workplaces (stations) in the school or work on in teams on projects. I chose an elective called “Resisting neutrality in technology”. I have to admit that I actually did not know what I signed up for. The registrations concerning the electives were lagging and I ended up having to choose from 5 electives that were still available. So naturally I chose the elective with the most vague title and description out of them all… I must say that I really enjoyed this elective because of the topic and discussions we had about the influences and effects of technology on humankind. Among other things, we spoke about the relation between racism and algorithms. The connection with sexism within society and technology stimulating this notion was also a topic that striked me.

At the end of this elective we had to present our thoughts on the topics we discussed through a booklet, poster or a letter. I incorporated my literature review about the position of women in the gaming industry to illustrate how the emergence of video gaming encourages the heteronormative stereotypes concerning gender roles. I wrote this literature review in my first course at university (academic skills). I was pleased with the result and finally found a way to combine my knowledge and researching skills into something creative. After a period of being insecure about a way to approach both studies I think this was a great and yet again spontaneous choice of me.

As I am writing this post I am working on a relatable topic concerning the influences social media has on humankind. Tackling the question whether man can or cannot escape from the pressure of having to perform in a certain “perfect” way in order to be accepted by the digital intangible world (and the entities who control social media).

HOW IT STARTED (2)

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.”


HOW IT STARTED (1)

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 wit

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…