When studying at Robert Gordon University, many students get the exciting opportunity to participate in the study abroad programme, Erasmus. The programme is a fantastic, once in a lifetime experience for students and a stand-out feature of the Fashion Management course at RGU. Today, we are speaking to Fashion Management alumni, Katy Gordon, who has kindly offered insight to her study abroad experience.
Tell us about your background, what you studied at university, etc.
I moved to Aberdeen from Glasgow at the age of 18 to study Fashion Management at Robert Gordon University. I had an amazing four years at RGU, learned a lot about myself and what I wanted to do for a career. I also made friends for life and moving away from home was a great experience – it made me more independent and a stronger person all round.
Why did you choose to study Fashion Management at RGU?
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after high school but I knew I wanted to do something business related. The Fashion Management course seemed like the perfect fit, as it is a great mix of academic and creative outlets. I was also keen to experience a new city and to move away from home and Aberdeen was a great place to do that.
Speaking about Aberdeen, what were the three best things about studying/ living in the Granite City?
Aberdeen is a great, compact city, which makes it a great place for students. I was only 18 when I left home and it was the first time living without my parents, and the fact that it wasn’t this big, intimidating city made me feel really comfortable and helped me to settle in quickly. Aberdeen has two universities which means there is always something fun going on and the chance to meet lots of new people. I couldn’t recommend Aberdeen enough, it has everything a student would need.
Thinking back to your time at RGU, what was your favourite topic/ subject in the Fashion Management course?
I found the work experience/ internship module to be really beneficial. I found gaining experience in the real fashion industry to be incredibly valuable and I know a lot of employers look for this in candidates. I got to work for an independent clothing boutique in Edinburgh and learnt a lot about starting up and running your own business, which is something I would love to do one day.
I also really enjoyed the dissertation module. I got to choose a research subject that I was really interested in and was partnered with a fantastic dissertation supervisor. I pushed myself further than I ever have and to see the results pay off was one of my proudest moments to date.
Why did you decide to apply for the study abroad programme, Erasmus?
To be honest, I didn’t take it seriously at all at first. My friends were applying and I never thought I would ever be selected to study abroad. We had just returned from our second year trip to London Fashion Week and I receive a text from one of my best friends, Helen. She had texted me to say she had been accepted to study abroad in Herning, Denmark. I was so happy for her, as I knew she really wanted to go. I decided to check my emails, and as it turned out, I had been accepted too, along with three other girls.
I honestly couldn’t believe it. I called my Mum straight away (don’t we all) and she convinced me to go for it. My initial thought was to turn it down because it was way out of my comfort zone but I am so glad she encouraged me to go for it! It was one of the best things I have ever done. I was so excited to explore another country and culture, and to meet new people from different parts of the world.
What was the best/ worst thing about studying abroad?
The best thing for me was the bond I made with the people I went to Denmark with. Those four girls have become my best friends. We were like a family in Denmark and we stuck together and had the best time possible. We did so many exciting things, such as traveling to Copenhagen and staying in a hostel with other girls we had met who were also studying abroad.
It is actually really difficult to think of a negative aspect, as I look back on that time with only the best thoughts. If I had to pick one thing, it would probably be that it went by so quickly. I know that sounds cheesy but it was honestly such a great experience and 5 months flew by. Before I knew it, it was over and I wish I could go back and experience it all over again. If you ever get the chance to study abroad, even for a short time, seriously do it, you won’t regret it.
How easy was it to study in a foreign country?
We attended TEKO University in Herning Denmark, which RGU has been in partnership for years. This made it really easy for us to settle in – there were other international students from Holland, Germany and England, so it was easy to find common ground with others and make friends quickly. We were in a class with Danish students and this meant we made local friends too, who showed us around the town and made us feel very welcome.
TEKO University paired each of up with a local Danish family, so that we could experience what it was really like to live in Denmark. My family were so lovely and had us round for dinner many times – they even let us all stay in their summer home for a weekend which was amazing!
What was your best memory of studying abroad?
It’s too hard to pick only one! In Denmark, everyone cycles so that meant we had to get bikes too. It was so much fun to cycle around the little town and go to and from uni on my own bike. Again, sounds cheesy but there is something about cycling around in the snow (it hit -10 when we were there) that just feels so freeing.
What did you learn in Denmark and how did it relate to Fashion Management?
The university we studied at in Denmark was also a design university and on our first module/project we got to work with the design students. We had to come up with a new fashion/lifestyle product. It was really cool to get to work with more creative people and see how they work. It gave me great insight into the fashion industry, as we had people designing the product, people branding it, people selling the idea and marketing it. This was a great look at how many different roles there are in the industry and it allowed me to use some of the skills I had learnt at RGU with all the different modules they provide there.
What piece of advice would you give someone considering going on Erasmus?
To not be afraid and to just go for it. Yes, you might get homesick and it might take a minute to adjust to a new culture and lifestyle, but I promise, you will not regret it. The only thing you will regret is if you don’t apply and take a chance.
What piece of advice would you give a new Fashion Management student, or someone considering studying the course at RGU?
I found the Fashion Management course to be really varied with a mix of creative and academic modules, which means you can find out exactly what it is you enjoy, helping you find out what you want to do as a career. Not only does this course have the opportunity to study abroad but also to gain work experience in the fashion industry, hold your own events such as a fashion show for charity and to work on a dissertation that you are interested in.
So, if you want to a course that challenges you, yet is engaging and you have an interest in business and fashion, then I can’t recommend this course enough.
Finally, as a recent graduate, can you share your best tip for surviving fourth year?
Find the place where you work the best and what time at. For me, it was in the library at RGU Business School. I was more of a morning person than a night owl. We had a group of us who would all go to the library at the same time and we would really motivate each other to work but still have a laugh together too. This was invaluable and helped me to get through all the stress of the dissertation. Oh, and lots of coffee and cake breaks really help too!!
Don’t beat yourself up too much, work hard but still have a social life and some down time. You will get through it and will be amazed at how well you can do if you put the hard work in.
Thank you to Katy for sharing her Erasmus experience. If you think Fashion Management at RGU sounds like the course for you, click here to read more about it.
The Fashion Management Team