“DAE has given me the best skills of all: discipline, work ethic and being able to figure out stuff on my own’’
From games to architectural visualization. A very inspiring story of Konstantina from Greece.
Dear Konstantina, can you say a few words about yourself (where are you from, how old are you, what programme do you study and what year). Why did you come to study in Belgium and what made you choose Bachelor of Digital Arts and Entertainment at Howest University of Applied Sciences?
Hello! I am Konstantina from Greece, I am 24 years old, and I have chosen to study Game Graphics Production at Howest DAE. My story started 4 years ago when I enrolled in a two-year 3D animation course in Greece and I realised how much I loved creating 3D spaces.
I knew that the education I got in Greece was not going to be enough to make it as a 3D artist, so I had to choose another study program to dive deeper into the subject. I had a wonderful teacher who helped me with everything especially with finding the Bachelor of Digital Arts and Entertainment programme at Howest and helping me decide to come study here. She knew a former student of hers that had studied game graphics production at Howest, so she gave me her contact information.
It was such a relief to have another person answer any questions I had, and that’s why I loved being a Unibuddy Howest Ambassador and helping other people who want to study here. After I learned everything I needed to know, I arranged all my paperwork and applied to Howest. The moment I saw the acceptance email, I knew my life track would change for the better.
What was your first impression when you arrived in Belgium, did you encounter any cultural difficulties?
As I lived in Greece my whole life, going from 40 degrees in early September to 16 was a shock. Thankfully, I went shopping right before my departure for better winter clothes because I definitely needed them! I came to Belgium with my parents who helped me move my crazy amount of clothing and helped me find a dorm. They stayed for 5 days, so we travelled to every big city in Belgium, and so they got to see the country before they left too. Everything was very different from what I was used to. The first thing I noticed was the number of bikes at the train station. That was real culture shock! The only cultural difficulty that I encountered was that I was used to going out way more. In Greece, after work or school, we always spend the rest of our day outside with friends. In Belgium, also because of the weather, that wasn’t happening too often. I took that opportunity though to learn more about myself and appreciate alone time too and it has shaped me into the way I am right now. So it ended up being a pleasant experience.
What was the biggest challenge for you during the three years of studies?
The biggest challenge was the workload for sure. Finding a way to balance everything (college, social life, exercising, reading, sleeping) was a struggle, and it took me some time to get used to. I ended up balancing everything after my 2nd year, it’s just something that takes discipline and knowing yourself and your limits.
What was your favourite subject? And who from the lecturers inspired you the most?
My favourite subjects were 3D high poly, game asset pipeline, level editing and level decoration. I love props and environments, so those courses were spot on for my interests. I admired a lot of teachers in my school, mostly because I saw them becoming better at what they do at a very fast rate, and because they were interested in us. We could contact them for any problem we had even if it wasn’t school related. I really enjoyed the courses from Jan and Dries, it was always fun and informative to have them for class!
If asked to describe DAE in 3 words, what would it be?
Effort - life-changing - awesome-people-who-I-miss-everyday!
Currently you are in your last semester of the three-year journey, and you have dine your internship in The Netherlands. Tell a little bit more about your internship and whether it was difficult to find an internship placement?
I followed a bit of a different route regarding my career. I decided that I wanted to use all the knowledge I gained from games but apply it in a very different field, namely architectural visualisation. I wanted to get an internship in the Netherlands as I was already here for a semester as an Erasmus exchange in BUAS. I also wanted it to be in archviz, so I had to look it up on my own. I was very happy that I landed that internship, which is for a company called Mirror Visuals and the founder is Greek! My tasks are mostly divided into learning and assisting, so most of the time I assist with projects (modelling, placing, materials, lighting) for both big and small projects (exteriors, café-bars, restaurants, jewellery stores). And when I have time left, I either follow a course for archviz in Unreal that is provided by the company, or I work on personal stuff.
What is your favourite place in Kortrijk (or Belgium) and why?
I really love Gent and Bruges, they feel like magical cities and Gent is a very nice place for partying, dining and taking very long walks. I also enjoyed Antwerp since it feels more like a busy city, and I am obsessed with big cities. One place I love near Kortrijk is 20 minutes away from the city by bike. There is a big lake surrounded by nature. I remember I went there 3-4 times with my friends, and we had such a wholesome time there.
What are your career aspirations after the internship? What is your big dream? Do you feel you have the necessary tools after DAE to make that dream come true?
I have big career plans! In the first 5-10 years, I want to open my own company in Greece focused in archviz, but also work globally. I want to have a team of 5-6 people that I trust, and we’ll take care of big projects with big clients. Archviz in Greece isn’t very well known yet, so there are barely any companies that focus just on that (2 or 3 to my knowledge), so I want to make it more accessible and something that companies will invest in. Further into the future, I want to be an interior designer (hopefully working with interior designers for so many years will give me enough experience to ‘replace’ a degree).
Since I drifted away from games, I had to learn a lot of things for archviz on my own. But, as a dear friend of mine once said, DAE has given me the best skills of all: discipline, work ethic and being able to figure out stuff on my own. I don’t think I would be at this place right now, already working with several clients alongside my internship, if I hadn’t gone to this school. The competitive environment brought out the best out in me (I speak very personally here). I am competitive, so it worked for me pretty well. And acquiring skill after skill allowed me to have these big dreams and believe in myself!
What piece of advice can you give students who want to study DAE?
Work hard, fight for what you love, and if you feel like it’s not for you, think carefully about dropping out and keep searching for what you love. The only way you can withstand the pressure and workload without going crazy is if you actually like what you do.
I would advise everyone who enrolled to not procrastinate, have a schedule that includes everything you want (gaming, working, sleeping, cooking, going out - you can combine everything for sure!) and adjust it as you go. Don’t get discouraged if the person next to you makes something amazing in 5 minutes and you struggle for a whole day and it doesn’t look good yet. Not everyone learns at the same pace and hard work always beats talent. I hope you all have an amazing time, see you on the other side!
You can check Konstantina's portfolio here