Living in a new place without your social network and all of your routines is a challenge. It requires you to remind yourself of who you are and what it is you like to do, which is complicated. Especially when University has just begun. At home, you know where to go when feelings of frustration and sadness emerge, but when living in a new country, you need to figure that out all over again. Where is your happy space? Or even your safe space?
I used to spend a great deal of my time on art. Whether it would be analysing art, composing portfolios, or simply just looking at it: it was almost around me at all times. After moving to Rotterdam, my place is looking different: there is less art on the walls (actually almost none, because landlords are not fond of tenants hammering nails into the walls, understandable but unfortunate…) and generally less art around me, at least that is how it seemed.
After visiting a contemporary art museum, I was reminded of how important art is and how much I missed engaging with it. Delving into myself and letting myself feel how wonderfully colourful and expressive the world can be. That art is a basis for creating an understanding between individuals and cultures. Just walking into the place made me feel more at home and I remembered how the ability to explore new museums and art had been a motivation for me to even study abroad in the first place.
It is argued that museums only reach a certain elite demographic, but we have the ability to consider it differently. We produce art, see art, and influence art. Some even claim that we are art. That every human being on this earth is walking around with each their own personal canvas. Like personal baggage but just a bit more abstract, and perhaps even beautiful. Another way of looking at the metaphor is by realising that art depicts the world; and since you live in the world, you are part of the art, whether it be captured by you or by someone else. By appreciating the odd angles, the lesser-known artists, street art, Instagram, and so much more and considering it all as artistic depictions of the world, it suddenly becomes a bit more interesting to see and create more.
In the future, I will remind myself to go to that safe space when feeling off. When group work is frustrating and life is hard, a trip to the museum could brighten it all. More importantly, when I need inspiration and a new perspective on the world, I will position myself in front of some art, once again noting that canvasses can also be people and that sculptures are all over the world. Colours that absorb you and make time stand still and art that provokes and makes you smile is all I need. I hope that you, another expat in Rotterdam, have found your safe space, and perhaps even realised what a pretty little piece of art you are yourself.
Author: Monique Veni Jørgensen
Editor: Phoebe Elliott
Visuals by: Lam Ngoc Do