In Department of Design, Experiential Learning, Students

Design student Ellerie Arnold shares how an experiential learning opportunity has enhanced her time at BYU

Photo Credit: William Osborne

I love to travel. There is magic in experiencing new foods, new cultures and understanding just what makes a place and a people so special. But there’s all sorts of unfamiliarity and awkwardness that comes with being in a new position, and traveling can mean a new town, city, state or country. You leave the familiar behind and venture into new territory, which takes a lot of mental energy, something that’s hard to replenish while you’re traveling as an introvert — which is exactly what I am.

For my illustration BFA project, I did research in the most extroverted country I could imagine: Italy. I cultivated experiences to illustrate for “The Introvert’s Guide to Traveling Italy. This project was all about finding a curation of experiences to get to the heart of a people and culture, and without a research trip to Italy, it couldn’t have happened. 

Illustrators capture the world around them, but without the real information and research from direct observation, my experiences couldn’t be authentic. There is no substitute for learning when you can see and experience the real thing. I wouldn’t have had such rich experiences on campus through books, pictures and scholarly readings. 

Research for this kind of project hadn’t been done before, so there wasn’t much to draw from, except for what was in front of me. There is magic in the real world. I was touched by Michelangelo’s finger of God in the Sistine Chapel, and went on a pilgrimage with St. Francis and his birds. I felt and saw and experienced things that made me feel alive and affirmed how amazing the world is. I knew before, but I know with certainty now that the experiences we really need in life are ones where we learn to connect and learn to make a place our own — and now, with my research, I’ll be able to help others find their own place in the world. 

The publication of student articles allows the College of Fine Arts and Communications to highlight the experiential learning opportunities and behind-the-scenes experiences of students and faculty and tell stories with a unique voice and point of view. Submit your story at

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