UAL Art and Design student Nadia Caimi wins International Student of the Year
The 2021-2022 Edinburgh College International Student of the year is Nadia Caimi, who studied on the College’s UAL Level 3 Diploma in Art and Design.
Eighteen-year-old Nadia, from Italy, came to Edinburgh straight from high school looking to pursue her passion for art, improve her English and embrace the opportunity to study abroad. She achieved on all of these fronts and her lecturers were full of praise for Nadia’s enthusiasm and dedication.
Edinburgh College Art and Design lecturer Debbie Miller said: “I’m delighted that Nadia has been chosen as the International Student of the Year. Nadia is an exceptional student, always gives her all, constantly striving to improve her work and is engaging with complex concepts with sophistication and maturity. She takes responsibility for her own learning and actively seeks out research/ advice to help her learn appropriate new skills and processes.
“We have been hybrid teaching since the course began and I have been impressed with the level of maturity, independence, and sophistication Nadia has brought to this new way of learning. Her analytical skills are excellent and enable her to transfer learning from relevant artists, designers and cultural research, and make perceptive decisions about the direction her work should take.”
The International Student of the Year award was presented to Nadia by Ann Landels, Chair of the Edinburgh College Board, at the College's Prize Giving ceremony in early June in recognition of her efforts across the year.
The International team caught up with Nadia after prizegiving to hear about her experience at Edinburgh College, chat about the UAL Art and Design diploma programme and hear about her plans for the future:
How do you feel about being recognised at Prize Giving?
It was very unexpected and I felt very honoured. It was unbelievable at first. I was thinking “are you sure”? It was beautiful, it was amazing.
What made you choose Edinburgh College for your studies?
Well, I heard about the College and had a look at the website and the courses, which seemed very interesting, specifically the art and design ones.
I really wanted to challenge myself and give it a try.
What were you doing before starting at the college?
I came straight to College from school in Italy. Actually, I didn’t finish my high school because normally it is five years of high school in Italy but I only studied the first three years. At that time, I decided that I wanted to study abroad to improve my English and as an experience, so I decided to come here to Edinburgh.
What has been the best thing so far about studying at Edinburgh College? Any highlights?
I really liked how the kind and supportive the lecturers were. From the start to the end, they have been great. My classmates have also been very welcoming. I have not felt at all like a stranger, just because I am an international student. I actually felt very welcomed and I managed to feel like part of my class from the beginning.
Can you tell us about the UAL programme? What did you enjoy most about it?
I really liked how the UAL programme focusses not on specific areas of art but instead is a very broad programme. I had the chance to explore and learn lot of interesting techniques and I really enjoyed this aspect of the course. I really learned a lot.
Can you tell us a little about your art?
I’m really keen on painting and drawing. Sculpture is the art form which I normally engage least with but, this year, I managed to try out some sculpture and I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I always like to experiment with different art forms and techniques and this course has been perfect for me to do that. Like I say, it’s not focussed on one very specific thing but instead allows you to try out different new art forms and techniques.
Were you involved in the GLOW festival?
I attended the GLOW festival. I attended a photography exhibition and an art exhibition, the Diploma Graduate Show. I really liked it. It was very interesting. At that time, I needed some inspiration for my own art so it was really helpful to go there and see the work of my fellow students.
What are your favourite things about living in Edinburgh?
The people. The people are very kind. But the city itself is also fantastic. The architecture is amazing – it has both the modern, and the more medieval-feeling parts. I also like that it’s not a huge city as it makes it much easier to explore.
Where did you live while you were in Edinburgh?
I lived in the College accommodation at Granton, right next to the campus where I was studying.
Have you faced any challenges, either before starting or during your studies?
What I found difficult was not the integration. Like I say, the integration was very easy for me. One thing I noticed that was very different for me was the teaching because here the teaching is very different from in Italy. For example, during an assignment I was struggling with something but I had my own idea about how I would solve it. It wasn’t the same as what my lecturer wanted me to do, but I understood that I had the creative freedom to do what I wanted. This approach was very different for me. I didn’t expect it at all. In general, the relationship between students and the lecturer is different because here in Scotland is much friendlier– here you can call the teacher by first name, for example.
If you could give one piece of advice to a student starting at the college now, what would it be?
Something that was very helpful for me to integrate into the Edinburgh life were the meetings with other international students organised by Edinburgh College’s international team. Those meetings were very helpful because they gave me the chance to meet other international students and hear their stories. By this I mean that I didn’t feel alone as an international student, as there were lots of international students in the same situation as me.
What are your plans for the future? Are you going on to further study after college or into employment? What is your end goal?
I am still deciding on my next step. But I would possibly like to progress on to university, or perhaps study one more year here in Edinburgh, because I really like Edinburgh and so if I can stay here that would be great.
As for my end goal, I don’t know yet for sure. But what I do know is that I’d like to continue in the arts world somehow. This course has made me understand that I really like art and the art world and I really want to stay on this path.
Do you have any messages for the lecturers?
I would really like to thank all of them because they really supported me in this journey. They were all very welcoming and from the beginning I felt included in the class. They helped me a lot. They were very available: anything I needed they were there for me. And also, I would really like to thank my Learning Development Tutor, Clara. She was so sweet and always available to help me. So, thank you Clara.
What are you most proud of that you have achieved while studying at Edinburgh College?
I’m very proud that I was able to feel integrated and build a relationship with my lecturers and my classmates. This was my main goal. And also, I’m very proud because I learned lots of interesting art techniques, that I didn’t even know before coming here. So, it was a new discovery for me. And also I’m very proud that I managed to go through all this year, with COVID and everything. It was a bit challenging at times, but I’m proud I succeeded in these circumstances.
Describe your Edinburgh College experience in three words.
Amazing. Challenging. Beautiful.