My name is Ilina Anna and I am an Erasmus student on a summer term in AFAD Bratislava. I am from Moscow, Russia. I study the ART of glass in Stroganov MSUAL in Moscow. In AFAD during the 2017 summer term I have been studying at the same department.
So, before I left for Bratislava, I met an exchange student from AFAD – Ivana (She is from Bratislava). We walked together, I showed her the Moscow sights and we taught each other the peculiarities of our languages. These short lessons helped me later when I arrived in an unknown country. We become good friends and still chat online.
On the 20th of February I came to Bratislava. I was very pleased that one girl Romana met me at the airport. She was a very nice and pleasant girl from the graphic institute. She helped me with accommodation and showed me Bratislava. This town seemed to me very small at first because you can explore the city center in 15 minutes. Romana also showed me the main building of AFAD.
I was also introduced to my groupmates – Petra and Kristina. We decided to meet and they showed me the second building of the school on Drotarska St. They showed me the school and all the workshops. I liked everything there. The school was fantastic! Workshops are a little bit smaller than in Moscow, but the machines are much newer. I was very interested in studying from the first days. After that I met my professors. They were very kind to me and patient because it was very difficult for me to work with for the first time. This is because Russia and Bratislava have different approaches to teaching. In Russia, we are told about the industry and in Bratislava, everything starts from an art idea.
Many thanks to my professor Patric Illo. He taught me to think differently in a very short period.
My second professor is Milan Opalka. He was like a sun for me. He was always smiling and joking and supported the students all the time. He could easily find a word for each student that always motivated us to work. And I remember our first meeting. I was presented with 2 books about Art and two pieces of uranium and optical glass. These books were in Russian language. I was very pleased to get these books and I read them with great pleasure. Now I can say for sure that I will miss him very much.
Both of these professors told me many interesting things about Slovakia and its glass artists.
And my third Professor is Palo Macho. Our first meeting was also very remarkable. He invited me to the exhibition of ancient glass. He told me many new things about glass and I like his work very much. I saw his works twice and they impressed me greatly. I saw his works in Ružomberok town in a catholic church when we were on a workshop there. This church was very modern with many glass objects. I saw Macho’s windows with fusing glass mixed with painting on glass. And also there were flowers blown from glass. It was a fantastic gentle work. The second thing that impressed me very much was his exhibition in the Danubiana museum. There were works, which were very beautiful in colours with traditional Slovakian minimalism. That is why I chose Macho’s studio of painting on glass. I really enjoyed working with Macho and he taught me how to work with new materials.
My second week of studying was also very fruitful because I had an opportunity to work in a workshop with a glass artist from Estonia – Kristina Uslar. I and my classmates learned new techniques – Patte de Ver or Sugar glass. We tried to make some reliefs and volume forms.
Then in April we had the second big workshop in Slovakian city Ružomberok. Ľudovít Fulla, a Slovakian national artist was born there. On the first day of our visit we were in his museum looking at his works. His works were very nice. They are very close to Russian modern art but they were made in different colours. The next day of our visit was devoted to the visit to the church with his stained glass windows. After our trip to Ružomberok we had to make some glass objects for this museum. And when we came back to Bratislava we began working on our special tasks for this museum. So in December there will be our exhibition.
I must admit that I was very pleased to work all this time with everybody from the glass department – students and professors. They were one of the best classmates I had ever had. Despite the fact that we have been studying together only for six months they accepted me and made me a real part of their group. I have never been alone while I am here. I worked with them and we always helped each other. And the best thing that students here always work with material.
Finally, we presented our works in AFAD exhibition. All of us were a little bit nervous. But for me it was a very good chance to show my work and to say some words about it. I clearly remember that day when I was walking around the school and looking at the other students’ works. And I was especially surprised with the design of some the works. I liked fashion and textile design as well as graphic illustration. After that we had a huge exhibition of diploma works of our department. Lucia was the first who presented her work. She did it in the church. Her work was so awesome and amazing and we called it “light”. During her installation the choir sang and everything was so bright, pure and beautiful. And all of us were touched by the words of Milan Opalka about her diploma.
In conclusion I want to say that the time I spent here was the most amazing in my life. During these long months I learned to be responsible for myself. I met a lot of wonderful people who showed me Bratislava from different sides. I have also had a chance to visit three nice towns Vienna, Brno, Budapest.
And I want to say many thanks to the International Department of AFAD for your patience, the constant work with each of us and for the farewell Erasmus party and presents!
P.S. It is very difficult to express all my feelings. Probably I can’t find right words but I really greatly impressed by this time, had the best experience in my life and learned many new things not only how to work with glass and other materials but also I got the most precious life lessons.