Planning during a pandemic for my semester abroad has felt an awful lot like counting my chickens before they hatch… then getting a little over excited and knitting them tiny sweaters. However, after more preparation, I realized that the current global situation had much less impact on my plans than I was expecting.
The first, and perhaps most pressing of my challenges has been ensuring that I have enough funding to comfortably live and learn abroad. This was a point of great stress for me for a while, but once I started working a steady job, I was able to start calculating exactly how much the trip would cost versus how much I was earning. Writing out a simple itemized budget based on what I was making at work and the cost projections provided by my host school was a big help in making me feel more confident and focussed in my planning. After creating my budget, I realized I was still short a few thousand dollars for plane tickets and other expenses. In addition to scholarship hunting through school resources, to supplement my main job, I found that the Craigslist website was a great local resource for finding interesting odd jobs to do in my free time and I’ve greatly enjoyed the work I’ve found there.
Looking to the future now, I also wanted to take some time to imagine how I should adapt my creative practice in order to make it easier to store, lighter on my budget, and easier to transport during my return journey. Since I will be attending art school full time while I’m abroad, I will be creating a large amount of work and from previous years, I already know that the costs can add up quickly as well as the space my work will take up. To combat that, I have been researching and testing alternatives to the traditional large canvases and instead looking towards using cardboard in place of masonite board, unstretched canvas, or collections of small paintings displayed together in place of a singular large piece.
Lastly, I usually make it a point to have all my relationships almost exclusively offline, so I already know how much I’ll miss my friends while I am away. In order to adapt, I’ve met with each of my close friends and we brainstormed different and meaningful ways to keep in touch- everything from remote book clubs, old fashioned letter writing, mailing a shared diary back and forth, and email chains.
My planning process started out focussed on the practical with COVID looming in the distance, but as I worked out more of the basic issues like applications and budgeting, I was then able to address the more frivolous obstacles for later on and the problem solving became very enjoyable in spite of these uncertain times.