Passionate about travel and keen to see different parts of the world, Camilla Crosta moved to Scotland upon completion of her studies in History of Art in Venice. While living in Glasgow, she began to explore opportunities to return to higher education when she learned of Queen Margaret University's (QMU) MA Arts, Festival and Cultural Management course.
Camilla explains more about what drew her to the programme, her experiences at QMU, and the opportunities she's been presented with since being on the course.
Tell us a little about yourself such as your hobbies/interests that are related or not related to your course of study.
I am from a town called Padua, not too far from Venice, in the north east of Italy. Since I was a child, my family encouraged me to travel and appreciate arts and food, and most importantly, to be curious. I believe this influenced my decisions and my future travels.
I decided to move to Venice to study History of Art, and the city became like a second home with its unique nature, its beauty and its challenges. Here, I attended university, worked for museums and galleries, and created my own cultural project. When I left the city a few years ago, it wasn’t easy. Mass tourism heavily impacted on the local cultural production and the sustainability of independent cultural projects.
Scotland has welcomed me and offered an opportunity to discover its land, people and communities. I have travelled and worked in various locations across the Highlands, and have learned about the challenges of producing and promoting culture in remote areas.
Moving to Scotland represented a chance to do something I love: travel. As soon as I have some free time, I immediately take a train, bus or jump into a friend's car to explore and visit places I’ve never been before.
Why did you choose to study at QMU and what attracted you to the course? Why did you choose to study in Edinburgh?
I had started to think about going back to university, almost six years after finishing my studies. I live in Glasgow, and at the time, I was looking for a master’s that was near me, which would allow time and opportunities to reflect critically on my previous experiences as well as learning new skills.
I looked at various master’s courses, and after talking with some friends who are already on the course at QMU, I started to give it some serious thought. The course offered the right framework to reflect on my previous experiences and learn something new.
Although I still live in Glasgow, I believe studying cultural management in a city like Edinburgh is extremely valuable. Edinburgh and Venice share some of the same challenges posed by the high number of incoming tourists. Having an open space where people can debate and discuss the meaning and role of cultural production ensures that the sector is not only maintained but able to face future challenges.
What have you most enjoyed about your course? What has been your highlight? What have you learnt, or which particular activity has been the most interesting?
Classes in 'Debates in Cultural Policy' have helped me to reflect on the research I carried on previously during my studies in Venice. Now, after almost six years, I will be able to revise it and expand some of the topics I addressed at the time.
Another highlight is the module in #Leadership and Governance'. It’s been useful in helping me frame my previous working experiences and to generate new ideas which I am looking forward to putting into practice.
How have your lecturers supported your learning?
The opportunities to have discussions and work together as a group have been very useful for me. In debates of Cultural Policy in which Professor Blanche, after the lecture, divided the class into two small groups where we discuss a variety of different topics.
The second one is the Arts Management in Practice module. The course structure allows for several visits to cultural organisations based primarily in Glasgow and Edinburgh. After meeting the teams there, and hearing their presentations, we always spend some time to discuss our impressions. For me, these moments of reflection have been invaluable learning tools. Hearing other people's comments as well as share yours, and getting the chance to discuss these opinions, is essential to the development of a critical approach which can lead to new ideas and reflections.
What have been some of your challenges with the course and university life? How have you overcome them?
The decision of going back to study was exciting, but also presented some challenges. Striking a balance between studies and work has been a difficult task. I’ve had to change my lifestyle and plan my days and weeks in a very different way than before. Scheduling has been necessary, as well committing to stick to them! At the moment I have less time to do leisure activities than previously, but I am aware this won’t be the case forever.
Going back to the academic world after almost six years hasn’t been easy. I forgot what it means to be a student, let alone an international student in the UK. In the beginning, it was all new for me, but slowly I am starting to get used to it now.
Chatting with other students and sharing the same concerns has been helpful. I’ve learned that these concerns are shared by others, too.
Any advice for students who might be interested in this course?
I am fully aware that it is hard, but I believe finding a short work experience related to the field of study makes a difference. By working in the area of your studies you can see gain real perspectives and can apply what you are learning. I feel lucky to have real-life examples to reflect upon and a project where I can share what I learned in class.
Enhancing our student learning and personal development
Have you won any awards/scholarship/internships, etc., that have helped you develop skills and experience? Are there any other opportunities you’re taking advantage of to further your area of study?
I was lucky enough to win the Dr Wang Scholarship which will help me in developing my career in arts management. I will travel to China this September to work along with Dr Wang's team in producing a cultural festival in Shanghai. I am very excited about this upcoming trip and the opportunity to meet cultural producers and practitioners from different places and countries.
The scholarship will also fund some of my dissertation research, which means I will be able to study the example of HafenCity, Hamburg, and its pioneering culture-led regeneration project along the waterfront spaces.
What University services have you used to help you through your university journey and how have they helped you?
I highly recommend the Effective Learning Service (ELS) which was of great support to me at the beginning of the course. I was really worried about going back to higher education but thanks to the help of the ELS, I found the confidence I needed. They carefully listened to my doubts and helped me in my approach to study and writing.
Life as a Student at QMU
What’s your ‘top tip’ for making the most of being a student? What has been the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned at university?
Try to talk and collaborate with other students. Listen as well as share opinions, ideas and views. The people around you may become friends and co-workers and they can have an impact on your personal and professional life.
"Scotland has welcomed me and offered an opportunity to discover its land, people and communities. I have travelled and worked in various locations across the highlands, and have learned about the challenges of producing and promoting culture in remote areas."
[Published February 2019]