Art School in London – Leonard Liao-Briere, SMUS class of 2014


The AA is by no means what I had expected it to be. The school is absolutely crazy, no grades, no classes, no essays. Initially I thought this would be amazing, I mean it basically sounds like school work is non-existent, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Turns out that without grades, passing or failing is dependent on a stranger who, in 15 minutes evaluates your year’s work and decides whether you’re suitable to continue on in the school, which is quite stressful.

The school is very unconventional though and it really allows space for new ideas and ways of thinking and they really push you to work outside of the box and your comfort zone. The assignments are very open ended and there are very few boundaries on the directions you’re allowed to take with your projects. You go on these amazing trips with your class, this year we went to Italy for 2 weeks, it was amazing. We also spent a week at Hooke Park which is a wooded area owned by the school in the north of England where students from the school practice and build much larger scale projects such as small storage buildings and houses. We were there to get inspired by nature and work on small scale studies of our environment and building something using the ideas we had developed in the time we were there.

What really defines the experience of my first year of university is really simply the city of London. It’s so vast yet everything is so close. There is everything to see and everything to do. Although you do have to get used to people typically starting to drink at 4 in the afternoon, the energy of the city on the weekends is incredible, people are laughing with strangers, sharing their life stories with people they met moments ago, screaming profanities as they stumble across busy streets. It’s simply impossible to get bored here.

The city is stunning and I am eager to spend many years to come here.

Jake Humphries is Career Day Co-ordinator and an ELL teacher at St. Michaels University School.


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