Kayva Kolli joined King’s from the University of Pennsylvania for a semester, and used her GMEB funds to explore her own culture in London.
My name is Kavya Kolli and I studied abroad at King’s College London from the
University of Pennyslvania. At my home university, I study the history of art and economics and was lucky enough to take classes in both realms during my time abroad. I took a leap of faith by applying to study abroad at King’s because I have always felt the need to constantly put myself in situations which would assist me in growing and gaining new perspectives whether it be cultural, academic, or geographic. King’s had all of that and more with a diverse student body population, class offerings that were well suited to people with a global mindset, and the flexibility to pursue extracurricular student organizations to become integrated with the greater community. Alongside this, I was in a community of like-minded individuals who were academically driven to pursue their passions.
Alongside my academic endeavors, I also wanted to utilize my time in London to enrich myself outside of the classroom. I applied the the Global Mobility Bursary in order to explore my cultural heritage in a new environment, travel to see art in its historical and cultural context, and network with professionals to help with my career. I was able to attend and meet other first generation Indians from England, assisting in my understanding of how our cultural differences are bridged by the similarities of our experiences. We were able to relate to one another and speak about how we used our heritage to create a community but also shared it with others whether it was through food nights in our KCL accommodations or cultural events thrown by the student societies.
During my time abroad, I was able to travel to ample locations and visit many museums in the meanwhile to continue my research on sub-Saharan African art and Grekko-Roman sculptures. I used the GMEB to solo travel to Paris, France on a solo trip since this city has incredible art collections. I visited the Louvre and spent the day speaking to a curator of one of the collections. Experiencing the art on my own allowed me to connect with the pieces and take time with each one I looked at. I was able to identify the artists’ intentions, the significance of them, and correlate my experiences to theirs. I also was able to see the curatorial preciseness utilized to give the viewers a specific experience. The presentation of the pieces was strategic in creating a story for the viewers to follow along with. Along the way, I grabbed some good eats and drinks such as authentic croissants and hot chocolate, all while speaking to tourists from another region in France about their experience growing up there!
Another way I used the GMEB was to visit Southhall, a town in west London which is culturally similar to India and has a large Indian population. I got to speak to many of the shop owners about their own journeys to London and even brought my flatmates who came from different cultural backgrounds to share the experience with them. We ate food, drank chai, and tried on many dresses, such as lehengas, in order to create a versatile experience. I also was able to use a bit of my Hindi to speak to the shop owners about where they source their products from.
Last, but definitely not least, I took a trip to Italy where I visited Pompeii to first hand see a piece of art I was writing an essay about. I travelled with two study abroad friends of mine and gave them a gallery talk about the piece where I was able to see the implications of using specific materials and the incredible craftsmanship of the piece sustaining the volcano eruption. The beauty of seeing the piece in the context of where it was created, laid on the ground in the home
of a highly statused individual in Ancient Rome, emphasized the incredible feats of artistic progression. I was able to use the GMEB to help with entry into the park and the travel costs.
These experiences would not have been as easily accessible to me had I not had the opportunities to apply for the GMEB. I learned new languages, ate food from various regions, and academically grew my understanding of the fields I am studying in the classroom. I will take this with me as I continue my research and will continue to forge connections with my peers who may come from these different cultural backgrounds.