Irfana Biviji

BA(Hons) Illustration, 2002-2005

"After studying for a diploma in applied arts in Mumbai, I took my portfolio along to a British Council fair and showed it to a number of UK colleges. They all made me offers. But when I got to the Falmouth desk they told me my portfolio wasn’t up-to-date enough.

I was struck by Falmouth’s high standards. Others just glanced at my work, and I felt I’d been picked not for quality but for my fees. I decided to reject their offers and apply again to Falmouth. The following September I was at Heathrow being met by staff from Falmouth’s International Office. It was the first time I’d come to England and I was surprised to see so many people from different countries.

The biggest shock came as the bus drove into Falmouth. There were so few people compared to home, I thought it must be a public holiday! I think I’d have been lost at a college with more students, but Falmouth is great. It isn’t that expensive and you can walk wherever you need to go.

In my first year I stayed with a really friendly family that I selected with my parents over the internet from a list provided by the College. The English are very polite and considerate, but I soon learnt that you have to take the initiative. If you ask they will really go out of their way to help you; they’re just a bit shy. Now some of my best friends are English.

The tutors were a great inspiration. Even if they criticise your work they are gentle and try to encourage you. And they give you individual attention; if you need help you get personal tutorials. They also let you be individual and want you to come up with new ideas, which is good, because I’m an idea-oholic!

In 2004 my illustrations of people of the Himalayas was shown in the Association of Illustrators' (AOI) annual and received the AOI Images 29 Gold Award for Best Student."