My name is Anastasija Višnjić from Montenegro, a student of graphic design, just finishing my 3rd year of studies. I am attending the Faculty of Visual Arts in my home country, and for the last semester I have spent in AFAD, at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, as an exchange student under the Erasmus+ program.
I have always been interested in art, having been painting ever since I was a child. From an early age, I adored all kinds of creative expression, and while I was dedicated to my other studies in primary and high school, I used all my free time painting with joy and refining my skills. For most of my life, I was self-taught, but I devoted myself fully to exploring various mediums of arts and crafts, with an endless desire to learn more and become better. As I decided to go to the Faculty of Visual Arts to pursue this desire, a whole new world of design opened up for me explore, and becoming an exchange student felt like a natural continuation of that exploration.
My country is wonderful, but I am always attracted to different cultures and to learning more about them. The world is, after all, full of so many amazing people and an astonishing variety of customs and ways of life, and the more you know, the richer your experiences are, and more your art can reflect and express the beauty of the world. I am, however, by nature, quite shy, and it was a big step to decide to apply for the Erasmus+ program, as it was first time leaving my country for such a long period of time, and I was insecure about getting by on my own. Slovakia was relatively close to my country though, and as it was likewise a Slavic country, with enough similarities but enough differences to keep it new and fresh, I really wanted to give it a try. From this perspective, I can’t be happier with that choice that, now that experience is wrapping up, I can safely say it is one of the best decisions I have made in my life.
It was such a refreshing step for me, to seize this opportunity. My insecurities melted with time, as I easily picked up the obligations and found my way around Bratislava. It’s truly a wonderful city, not too big, and yet not too small, and while I feared I’d be homesick, I never felt like I was so far away from home here. People were nice and kind, atmosphere was peaceful and calm, and there was always something new to discover. I believe living here has left me a more confident person, and more ready to explore the world and take on life’s challenges.
Especially a delightful experience for me, was having a chance to meet all the lovely people of this country, as well as the people at my Dormitory on Konventa Street. It was a dormitory only for Erasmus+ students from AFAD, and living for 5 months together with so many amazing creative people from various parts Europe, from England, Finland, Russia, Spain, Serbia, Bosnia, and so on, all in one place – it was an amazing experience that has left me a much richer and happier person.
AFAD itself has been a great change of pace for me, and I have gained a lot of experience in Studio 303 my main studio and into which I put lots of my time. Like most of the Erasmus students, especially at first, I had a bit of troubles with the language barrier, as the main studios held classes mostly in Slovak, but thankfully, there was always someone who knew English well among students or professors, so I adjusted to it after some time. While in my home faculty we focused mostly on learning and perfecting our knowledge of various programs and our artistic skills that helped me greatly in the past, in AFAD, execution is secondary, and main impact is put on the development of concept and presenting that concept. There’s a great accent on the artist’s vision that needs to shine through, and I found professors often stay aside a bit, in order to let the students have as much space as possible to adjust to the challenges on their own. While it’s not always a good thing to leave so much freedom to the student, I found it had done me well, as it put me in a place where I had to go that extra mile to put my heart into the project, so I could be more confident in it. There were hardships along the way, as in everything in life, but I would like to think that the experience has refined me and let me grow in ways I would not have grown, had I remained in my home country throughout my whole studies.
With the great experience, I have grown as a person, in every way, and am even more eager to continue my studies and keep refining my skills and improving my art. I am happy, and know it was worth it, in every way. I feel like I can have a fuller, more successful life, thanks to this opportunity to broaden my horizons, and for that, I am extremely grateful. I have seen so many beautiful new places, and met so many interesting people, and I couldn’t be happier.
As slowly my days in Slovakia as an exchange student are coming to an end, all I can say is – I hope that next year, in my stead, even more people will have this opportunity, and have a chance to make their lives richer and happier with it, just like I did.