Traveling designers wanted

Graphic design students at Lane Community College now have the opportunity to study in New Zealand for one year to obtain their bachelor’s degree. The initiative, referred to as the 2+1 Program, allows graphic design students to receive their Associates of Applied Science in Graphic Design within two years at LCC and then their Bachelor of Design at Otago Polytechnic School of Design in Dunedin, a city in southwestern New Zealand.

According to Otago’s website, 97 percent of the school’s graduates are already employed or continuing their education. In addition, the average class has 16 students per instructor and the institute, and students can receive help from more than 20 support staff members and more than 20 student ambassadors. Graphic design students who study for a year at Otago take specialized courses such as strategic design and communication design classes and participate in research projects.

Finalized during fall term of 2018 by LCC’s International Programs, the 2+1 Program gives LCC’s graphic design students the opportunity to save time and money while working toward their bachelor’s degree, according to Judy Gates, an LCC academic adviser for art-related majors, including graphic design. Taking tuition and fees, books, living expenses and health insurance into account, LCC’s resident students pay about $5,900 and its international students pay about $10,500 every year at the community college. These costs are often more than doubled at four-year universities in Oregon, Gates added, but one year at Otago would cost $26,301.

LCC’s International Programs department acknowledges that the 2+1 Program is still not affordable for many students. Tia Gomez Zeller, an LCC adviser for international students, said that financial aid does not cover expenses for the trip, and this is a roadblock for many LCC resident students who rely on financial aid. The International Programs is working to expand what financial aid can cover, Gomez Zeller said, so more students can be involved in the 2+1 Program.

Nonetheless, being able to compress two years of learning into one year is an incentive for students who want a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. Nicole Espinosa, the first LCC graphic design student who will study in Otago this year, said that saving time and money was the main factor that led her to take up this opportunity.

Living overseas for a year in itself is a benefit, Espinosa added.

“I believe that traveling provides a series of lessons that you can only learn by being immersed in a different culture than your own,” she said. “I will not only receive my bachelor’s degree, but I will obtain international experience, meet many new friends and see a part of the world I have not been able to see before.”

Gates said that she believes exposure to a variety of cultures can deepen one’s global perspective and help graphic designers develop their artistic expression. Although all of the classes in Otago are taught in English, Gates said, the school and community are blended with Maori culture and language that are native to New Zealand.

Gomez Zeller stressed the value of leaving one’s own culture to experience another one.

“Leaving everything behind and going to a new country and learning to be flexible with other cultures will make you ready for anything, not just your major,” she said.

Graphic design and studio arts instructor Thomas Madison knows of three other students in addition to Espinosa who are interested in completing their bachelor’s degree at Otag. Madison said that he believes a designer’s success is heavily reliant on their portfolio rather than the school that they graduate from, but an overseas experience can aid a designer in the improvement and development of their portfolio. In addition, he said, studying abroad can provide students with “a valuable international experience that you will cherish for the rest of your life.”

Espinosa will arrive in Dunedin on Feb. 5 and will attend a week of orientation at Otago before classes begin on Feb. 18. Graphic design students interested in being a part of the 2+1 Program at Otaga apply in the spring.