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Semester abroad experiences

My Canada Experience

Moving abroad (Part 1/4)
Kanadischer See vor Berglandschaft mit Schnee auf den Gipfeln

Hi there, I am a German Design Strategist & Art Director currently living and working in Vancouver. I design brand identities, products, websites, and everything that's in between. In the article series 'My Canada Experience,' I want to share with you my personal international experience, my motivations, hurdles, thoughts, and advice about living and working abroad, in hopes you feel inspired.

My background

My name is Lea. I am 27 years old and a former HfG student. I graduated with a Communication Design BA in 2017 and Strategic Design MA, in 2018. I aim to combine my visual identity, UX/UI, and product design skills with strategic thinking to boost brands into their most authentic and meaningful experiences.

As a self-employed designer, I work across different disciplines for clients in various industries such as health, arts & culture, fashion, tech, and others. My background allows me to tackle real business cases and help my clients grow their businesses by using a holistic problem-solving approach. In part-time, I am collaborating with the Vancouver based Tech Startup 'Ensightful' as a Consultant, helping them to set up an agile framework for product innovation. On the side, I am a speaker on the subject of Cyborg-Centered Design, as well as being involved in various exhibitions, running creative workshop sessions ...and I write.

As a self-employed designer, I work across different disciplines for clients in various industries such as health, arts & culture, fashion, tech, and others.

Personal motives

Due to my curious nature and passion for traveling and exploring new places, I've always been keen to encounter different cultures and gain international experience to assimilate diversity into my worldview. However, above all, my thirst for adventure and the unknown was the main reason for taking my leap abroad. The desire to experience what it means to live and work overseas roots in my early design career during undergraduate studies. Growing up in a very privileged German society, I was lucky enough to enjoy a first-class education almost for free, as well as possessing a reliable passport with a strong international status that allowed me to travel practically anywhere. So why not make use of it and follow my wish to expand my communication skills? As English is considered the world traffic language, it's fluency was a top priority for me.

It's not that I don't like my home country, but living in a country where German is the mother language will always limit one's ability to speak English frequently and improve your skills to a certain level. While learning a new language, I firmly believe that learning by doing is the most efficient. If you get constantly forced to speak, read, and write another language, all your senses are stimulated. With this immersion in mind, I realized I needed this challenge both for my personal and professional growth. If I want to have the ability to work and act globally, I have to push myself out of my comfort zone and put myself into this stressful yet positive situation. That's when I am truly thriving.

While learning a new language, I firmly believe that learning by doing is the most efficient.

The value of international experience

Some might say taking the time to see the world means putting your career on pause. I believe going global can genuinely help you advance your career. As a matter of fact, we are part of a globalized economy, and without a doubt, being able to communicate in English is crucial.

I see designers as the inventors in the 21st century. Our way of thinking and working enables us to come up with solutions that can solve the most complex problems. As problems are getting more global, the work of the designer is shifting simultaneously. International know-how is becoming a career imperative for tomorrow's top executives. People with a design background have founded the current most successful modern businesses, such as Uber, Kickstarter, Instagram, and Airbnb. Working global is no more a matter of choice – It is a matter of willingness to grow. In order to survive and make an impact, organizations are forced to act on a larger scale than ever before. Distributing teams and managing cultures and people with different backgrounds have become a fundamental part of every wealthy global acting business.

Moving abroad as a designer has tremendous advantages. Living and working in a different environment allows you to really get to know yourself, your strengths, and your weaknesses, and brings you closer to other values and beliefs. You will not only grow your international network but also enhance your soft skills by collaborating with people who have various backgrounds. This creates a chance for a more collaborative global community. You can expand your thinking, creativity, and potential in the most extraordinary ways, and you'll gain the ability to adapt to new situations quickly. It's a meaningful experience that will increase your employability and help you to become a more influential, better designer.

Living and working in a different environment allows you to really get to know yourself, your strengths, and your weaknesses, and brings you closer to other values and beliefs.

What's next? In the following article, I will write about why I decided to go to Canada and what perspectives you have there as a designer.

To be continued...

Ich bin Lea Schwegler

Lea Schwegler

Name: Lea Schwegler

Alter: 28

Wohnort: Vancouver BC

Beruf: Design & Strategy Consultant, Freelance Art Director

Hauptcharakterzug: neugierig

Lieblingsschrift: Neue Haas Grotesk

Lieblingsfarbe: orange

Mehr international


Oh, Canadaa!

von Lea Schwegler