Thornhill explores art in England
The allure of studying art across the pond in a contemporary artistic community like England pulled Kristen Thornhill in, and she has been immersed in it ever since. There's only one problem, according to the native Newfoundlander.
“Try not to get too jaded,” she warns future exchange students. “Walking past St. Paul’s every day kind of ruins you. By the end of it you have a bit of the 'been there, done that' attitude towards everything because you’re so saturated with the lifestyle. But on the plus side, that also makes you really appreciate how beautiful and calm Canada is when you come home.”
Studying in Harlow has been an interesting experience for Thornhill, who describes it as “much different than back in Corner Brook. The atmosphere is just a complete other level, and the culture, while it does have its similarities, takes some getting used to. But it's been incredible. It's really fast-paced, but the city has so much more to experience and there's something new to discover every day. Its way different than having only three or four art galleries in the area.”
Being involved globally is important for an interest, according to Thornhill, and this was the perfect chance for her.
“I really wanted to see more and get more involved with the contemporary art world. It's hard to connect when you're in Newfoundland; we've got such a great art community as it is but you really need to involve yourself with the rest of the world as well. There's so much out there.
Thornhill stressed the importance of being a part of the art community at a community level and a provincial level, but said there is always a need to experience art globally.
“It’s great to be involved at a community or provincial level but you really need to know what’s going on in the rest of the world to have a full appreciation of everything. You can think you have an understanding of what’s going on through the internet and whatnot but its really so much different to be actually immersed in it. I definitely recommend it, not just in visual arts but for any program.”
Thornhill received the Harlow Development Corporation Scholarship for 2014 for studying art history at MUN’s Harlow Campus.
“The scholarships help so much; the cost of living in England is way higher than back home, plus the exchange rate is crazy right now! It’s practically double, so my £250 scholarship was worth $500; but that also means that every £6 sandwich (not uncommon in London) is actually about $12 Canadian. And a train ticket into London right now, which we needed almost every day, is about £14. It’s insane. So the scholarship made such a huge difference.”
Having been born and raised in Newfoundland her entire life, Thornhill jumped at the chance to broaden her horizons and experience life away, even if only as an exchange student for two-and-a-half months.
“I’ve lived in Newfoundland my entire life, so going to England for two and a half months was a really big deal to me. I get homesick even just on the other side of the province when I’m away during a regular semester. So that was the biggest thing to me. But also you have to adjust to living in a city; London makes St. John’s seem small. There’s a million bus systems and tube lines and pickpockets to worry about, and it is a lot to throw at you right away. It takes a few weeks, but you start to realize that it's really not that bad. I adjusted a lot sooner than I thought I would. And some people say the food sucks over there but trust me, its really not that bad..”