Geography Student Film Featured in Study Abroad Film Festival

Submitted by Nell Gross on
Film Still from The Answer
The Answer, a Film by Candy Jiaxi Yuan
Candy in front of a vintage car at the BMW Museum in Munich, Germany
At the BMW Museum in Munich, Germany
Candy in front of a still life painting at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France
At the Louvre Museum in Paris, France

Reminiscing about study abroad in Berlin, Germany, in winter 2023, UW geography student Candy Jiaxi Yuan found the experience "dramatically changed my perspective towards my future goals. I think when I was experiencing a totally new lifestyle, it gradually opened my eyes and allowed me to enjoy small moments." This new perspective informed the theme of Candy's submission for the IES Abroad Study Abroad Film Festival, titled "The Answer" and spanning eight different countries including Germany, Czech Republic, France, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Malta. Here, Candy discusses the study abroad experience that inspired the film, and the process it took to adapt the message for its medium. Don't miss the film itself, "The Answer," embedded at the bottom of this news story!

Learning to make a film

This film is my first ever film I ever created. I think I started to brainstorm and watch some examples from online resources. Later on I called one of my friends to talk about my film and she gave me some hints on how to build a timeline. From my perspective, It is important for me as the director to give the audience a clear message after they watch the film.

I started to build my narratives first before recording my dance. After I have my first draft I begin to focus on details with specific editing. I used a Chinese app called MeiTu that combines all my photos into a video and IMovie on Macbook for future editing.

Dealing with challenges while making the film

For me personally, the most challenging part is to express my message to the audience clearly. It was pretty miserable because I have so many thoughts for forming a film but I couldn’t think of one that fits the best to express why study abroad is important. However, after I deeply reflected on my study abroad journey experiences between US and Europe, I started to realize studying in the US challenges me to become a better version of myself and studying in Europe provides me a platform to find out who I am in different settings.

Thinking about the future

My study abroad experiences definitely influenced my personal perspective of a lot of things. I appreciated the opportunity to study in the US since I was 15 years old and it significantly sharpened my independent and critical thinking skills but studying in Europe at the age of 20 years old gives me more space to explore what I truly want for my future life.

I remembered during one of my German Pop Culture classes in Europe my professor told us studying in the classroom is helping us to gain knowledge but exploring the world is another way to connect yourself with society. Life is full of uncertainty and stress but when you take the time to slow down and look around, it dramatically changes your perceptions.

"The Answer"