Study Abroad Check-In: Ayesha Raees and Benny Ehlers

Bennington Free Press: Where and what are you studying?

Ayesha Raees: I am studying Film Production and Creative Writing at Bath Spa University at Bath, UK.

Benny Ehlers: I'm currently studying landscape architecture at The University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia 

BFP: How does your plan fit into what you’re studying?

Benny Ehlers with a  Koala in Australia!

Benny Ehlers with a  Koala in Australia!

AR: My plan is an experimentation in collaboration between Video and Poetry. I am interested in creating a medium of communication where the literary glory of the written medium can be expanded to a visual extreme. Although quite a contemporary idea befitting Bennington’s artistic brilliance, I wanted to step back to embrace the rules before deciding on breaking them. I have always been passionate about film and writing, therefore, I decided to go to Bath Spa to practice them in their industrial sensibility. My courses were designed according to the work environments of the industries, with several people working on the sets, embracing their roles and coming together to create one thing. I have always appreciate a sense of good collaboration and studying abroad gave me this opportunity.

BE: I study environmental studies and music and wanted someplace to study landscape architecture as it is not offered at Bennington. 

Ayesha Raees in the UK

Ayesha Raees in the UK

BFP: What drew you to that specific location?
AR:My university was by the countryside, with a lakeside walking trail of it’s own. It was gorgeous being around a lush landscape and being able to access it as well. The city of Bath is full of history and culture. Europe is an accommodating platform for young learners and travelers.

BE: I did not specifically have Australia in mind when considering studying abroad. I knew I wanted to get out of the states for a while and experience a new place. The exchange program I applied to did all the research for me in finding a place to study landscape architecture. They were super helpful in the process! 

BFP: What is an interesting/wonderful/questionable food you’ve eaten?

AR: I ate Haagis in Edinburgh during my travel. It was delicious. Just don’t look up what’s it made up of. At a market in Belfast, I picked up home-made fudge. It was rich in flavor, something I have never had tasted before. And the most wonderful thing was my own association of what tea was when I ordered a pot of tea at a cafe: it came in a kettle, with a little milk pitcher and beautiful plates; something so common in my brought up in my South Asian home and surroundings.

BE: I tried vegemite my second day here. I'm not a fan. I'm still so surprised when I see an Australian sitting next to me at breakfast and there they are eating vegemite. I think it's an acquired taste. 

BFP: What has surprised you or been the biggest change or you while studying away?

AR: I was told it was always extremely cold in the UK. I had packed myself my thickest of fur coats. When I arrived, it was fall weather in January. No snow. Just wind and rain. I had laughed, realizing I was coming from the mountains of Vermont. The weather has been trickiest; all my pictures have got my hair on my face.
The biggest change I experienced was the utter joy I felt of normalcy which allowed myself to become more creative and embrace opportunities. I am very grateful for this experience.

BE: The biggest change for me is living in a city and being at a University with such a big student population. It's such a sharp contrast from Bennington.