‘Everything went smoothly for me – and it will most likely go like that for you’ – our new international Students reflect on their first weeks

Every year we welcome dozens of international students to our school in Sweden. How does it feel moving across borders to start at Hyper Island? What are the biggest challenges? And how fast do you make friends?

Meet Lukas and Estelle, both from Belgium, who came to Stockholm to study the Interactive Art Director program, which started this August.

Lukas, has a background in graphic design.

How did you find out about Hyper Island?

I found out about Hyper Island during an internship I was doing. The company I was interning at organized a meet-up with speakers from the industry and one of the speakers made me very curious about Hyper Island. After doing some research I knew right away, that Interactive Art Director was the best fit for me. It was my one and only choice when I applied.

Can you compare learning at Hyper Island with how you learned before?

It’s very different. Back home at Art School we had teachers focused on teaching us concepts and hard skills. We didn’t learn how to collaborate in groups, which is something I very much value at Hyper Island now – you learn how to work with other people. It sounds simple, but it changed a lot for me. I missed that soft skill focus at my previous school. I had a lot of frustration from working in teams that didn’t work very well. After only a few weeks at Hyper Island, I now feel like I know myself and how to fit into a group.

How would you describe the community among students at Hyper Island?

It’s very interesting how quickly you get to know each other. There are no boundaries between classes, you can just talk to everyone. It’s a very big, open community. Everyone is always invited. It feels like it’s a good place to build long-lasting relationships. We all have the same goals and reasons to learn and that helps with the bonding, of course, this is supported by the great methodology here.

I’m normally a very private person, but already on day one people started sharing very personal things with each other. It really helps you understand the other person and gives you the comfortability to speak up about things because of this great level of trust that you build.

How difficult did you find it to get settled in Sweden?

It felt quite easy for me. I found a room up front, so I had the housing out of the way. The culture isn’t too different to my home country either. And because of the great team building, people do stuff together all the time so you always find something to do with nice people and make friends quickly.

Do you already know what you want to do after Hyper Island?

It depends on the job I’ll get. I’m flexible. I don’t want to work for a big corporation and just want to find something I like. It doesn’t really matter where it is. I’m very open about everything and want to focus on getting the most out of the education here first.

Do you have any advice for someone considering studying here?

Everything went smoothly for me – and it will most likely go like that for you. You don’t feel like you are going to school – it’s very refreshing.

Estelle has a background in graphic design and copywriting.

How did you find out about Hyper Island?

I actually heard about it from my brother. He’s a UI/UX designer and software engineer. He was studying Motion Creative and they had a lecture on Hyper Island, so he was considering going here himself. However, he ended up moving more towards engineering and not applying. I had just graduated from school and done an internship and really felt a lack of experience and not being sure what to bring to the table. After speaking to my brother, I looked up Hyper Island and it really seemed like the answer to my questions. I’m very active on LinkedIn and got really hooked on the articles on current and former students Hyper Island was sharing there. So eventually, I applied.

I chose Interactive Art Director because I had a graphic design/advertising focus and after looking at all programs on the website, IAD felt most comfortable. I didn’t want to specialize too much in just one field. After High School, one year US exploring, then 3 years bachelor and one-year master’s studies in graphic design in Antwerp.

Can you compare your previous learning experiences to the ones at Hyper Island yet?

I love the feedback sessions! Getting and giving feedback is so valuable. At my previous school, feedback was more focused towards aligning with how they wanted certain skills to be developed. It was never directed towards questioning yourself or what you want to do. Hyper Island has the opposite focus.

The hands-on mentality here is very different as well. In my art school I didn’t feel that relevant as a person, it was all about developing better skills. But here, it’s a lot about adjusting to business and industry needs.

How is the community among students? Tell us a bit about your first week here.

Personally, I feel very comfortable. Everyone is open and internationally focused. We have so many different cultures going on in our class and everyone is very open towards exploring those. There is a very nice setting here during the first weeks to get to know everyone in the group, which was a great start. Now nobody is afraid to speak to anyone about anything. It still feels a bit strange at times, but the first week here is something I’m very grateful for. This new mindset you get if you just focus on building relationships in a natural way, there’s space for everyone to share and that creates a very inclusive atmosphere.

How did you get settled in Sweden?

The student guide that was sent out really helped me with getting settled. However, I didn’t think finding housing would be this difficult. The mentality towards housing here is very different, so that was a bit challenging. I’ve already moved 5 times in only 5 weeks but now I’ve finally settled down in a room I found in a shared flat. That’s something you need to prepare for when you move to Stockholm: finding housing is hard. But it’s actually a nice problem to bond over with other students, since everyone has this problem.

Do you already know what you want to do after you finish studying here?

I came here with the very specific goal to work in advertising. But right now I see Hyper Island as an endless pool of knowledge that you can dive into and pick different directions at different times. In the past weeks alone I’ve already had so many different ideas, so now I’m focused on exploring and will see what I want to do once I’m more into the program. I’m not sure yet where I want to go either.