Joséphine Hengstwerth

Fine Art - BA (Hons)

Joséphine never planned to study in the UK. She originally wanted to study science where she grew up in Germany and go into cancer research. She already had contacts with some facilities and took part in lots of science competitions.  But within a few years she had completely changed her mind and went into Fine Art, which she's loved all her life, at BCU School of Art.

"I decided to take a gap year before I committed to a university and came to the UK to work as an au pair.I fell in love with the country, the city, the language and the people, and I couldn’t handle the thought of going back home. My host family is here and I met my boyfriend here, so I didn’t want to leave them behind to study in Germany. I’m quite far away from my family and friends in Germany which is certainly a struggle. I just wasn’t entirely sure how to make staying here a reality.

One day on a bus journey through town, the Birmingham School of Art on Margaret Street caught my eye. I thought studying there looked like fun so I immediately sent a message on the Facebook page to get more information about the courses.  

I decided in the Winter I wanted to stay here but didn’t actually apply until May! I applied for another uni too and had an unconditional offer but I’d set my heart on BCU so kept pushing to come here. 

The tutor who did my application interview had actually studied Art in Germany. What a coincidence! This made the interview so much more relaxed and we had a great chat about both countries and realise the diversity that the tutors had to offer. Since starting at BCU I’ve realised there are so many students spread all over the city, coming from different backgrounds and with different life goals. I am proud to be part of something bigger and a university that supports me in every area of my education and life.

I love how diverse the BCU campus is too. It’s such a gift to be a part of a uni as amazing as BCU.

We have so many different buildings and courses. It’s completely varied for people studying at Margaret Street compared to the modern Parkside Building for example. Margaret Street is a very old and lovely building, but being smaller means that you’re more likely to be friends with people from different years, and get to see more of the work that goes on across the school.

It’s been quite a change living in a big city. I grew up in the Black Forest – a mountain range in the southwest of Germany - so it’s certainly been a big adjustment from living in a village! It’s really refreshing to be constantly meeting new people. There’s so many more opportunities here for me, so I’m trying to make the most of it. Through societies and events around the university, I have got to know people that I would have never met otherwise, who’ve become friends for life (hopefully) so quickly. Even though I am just in my first year I already noticed all the ways the uni is helping me for my life after graduation, like being able to take part in art markets.

Finance was a massive issue that took lots of research. There aren’t any fees for German universities, so support is limited. I also had to consider the impact that Brexit might have on me as an EU student. In the end, my tuition fees were covered by Student Finance England, and my living costs were partly paid for with savings and a grant from Germany. I currently I have three jobs to boost my income, but I’m a happy Fine Art student at BCU and not regretting my decision a single bit!"

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Saturday 28 September 2019

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