STUDY ABROAD | From SCI-Arc to where (Fall 2005)?

Our graduate studio at SCI-Arc, 2GAX (0.5 of 2.5 year program), is looking to get "out of the box" by going non-digital in Fall 2005. So far, being stranded on a deserted island seems appropriate -- although, that's what we are now. We want to be part of the discussion and intervention in a place totally different from the US and LA.

Indonesia & Australia sound good to me. I do have one criteria... I may relocate my wife and kids for 4 months to this location. Going "native" is not too much of a problem. We sorta like the idea of Survivor "Family Edition".

Your suggestions are welcome.

Oct 26, 04 4:36 pm
el jeffe

Check out the chronicles of the Sinclair clan in the LA Weekly and The couple moved to Raratonga with their two small children - the experiment didn't last as long as they had hoped. I suppose it's a caveat about how remote you're willing to go.

I'm enjoying your blog steve; brings back memories of my sci-arc grad school experience.

Oct 26, 04 6:18 pm
R.A. Rudolph

Check out my friends website
They are currently building a "house" on an island in Palau, south pacific sort of near the phillipines, with no prior experience...
Not sure what your studio is looking for, but these guys have a lot of travel experienece and are very friendly. No architectural knowledge, but you could e-mail them nonetheless. Palau is supposed to be amazing. Unfortunately, I have no $$ to visit yet. I pray they stay there for a while so I can (I have my doubts about how long they'll stay once they decide to have kids as well, but hey...)
As for the name, they were planning to buy an island in Panama but it fell through...

Oct 26, 04 7:06 pm
Kadam- F

first of all please clarify your definition of 'a place (where is) totally different from the US and LA'...
now aday, Americanization has invade every spaces in this world. even on a small solitude island in Pacific ocean, u will be able to consume a coca cola can.. so u should be slightly more specific on the idea of being different...

then second advice, going to Indonesia at this period of time??? r u sure about this??? Indonesia is one of the most critical hot spot where terrorists prefer to attack on western civillization...

and aussie, well i don't see how could it be much different from the us....

so how 'bout Thailand.. have u consider about this country??? I will be more than happy to help u get more info on my country.. : )

Oct 26, 04 8:57 pm
el jeffe:

thanks for the tip, and thank you for being a patron of the blog :) I will have a bunch more stuff to blog after the midterm. as you know, time gets very compressed at mid and final reviews.

R.A. Rudolph: right on. this is kinda what i've been dreaming about for our studio -- survivor meets grad school. I'll pass the website along to my friends.

Kadam-F: i think you are right -- globalization if making the world much smaller. though, los angeles in particular is totally submerged in consumerism. to define the problem more specifically and in my opinion, our studio would like to go to a place that will affect us in a totally new way (non-urban, non-suburban, non-commercial, non-image culture). now i do see two routes to take here in dealing with affect. one, would be to go to tokyo and be immersed in image culture, urbanism, and commercialism, etc. while the other would be to find a really remote place to hang our hats for a few months and build something. also, funny you should bring up thailand; some of my friends have brought up your country, and point well taken on australia.

To all: I'm still just giving this an initial once over, but maybe we could turn this travel abroad thing into an Archinect Travel Log. What would you all consider a worthy graduate school abroad program? Where would you go? I can see maybe getting sponsors or collaborators as we set this up. It would be interesting to take our digital design skills and apply them in a non-digital venue.

Just some partially random thoughts on what study abroad could be.

Oct 27, 04 1:01 am

go north. way north. build sustainable homes in the arctic and watch the icecaps melt.

Oct 27, 04 2:15 am

I still say we should hit up Malaysia. Indonesia, while I disagree with Kadam's issues of safety, is indeed a cool place to visit and 'go native' for a while, it does not currently have the same mix of contemporary and traditional architectural variation as Malaysia.

I think it is nice that you brought this up here Steve; after the discussion with Speaks regarding study abroad at SCI_Arc, and my conversation with Bill, it sounds like it will be up to us to get everything sorted out.

Oct 27, 04 3:58 am
Kadam- F

so.. this class is engineered by Micheal Speaks?? Can u guys tell him that his former Thai student (from MRD II) said hi.. and wish him well... and seriously, if u consider my country as an alternative.. let me know I, as one of sci arc alumni, will be more than happy to help u guys..

Oct 27, 04 8:05 am

Hey Appleseed (Steven)...

I've been emailing some travel radio talkshow hosts about our proposed study abroad next Fall to open a free dialog with people in the know about our criteria. Here's the email and a subsequent response. There should be more responses today and this week. In addition, opening a discussion up with Kadam-F sounds like a good way to find out more about Thailand. So far, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, and Turkey seem to be on the table. PLEASE add or correct anything you guys see fit for our studio criteria; we can make this happen!


Generic Email sent yesterday night

I love your show. I'm attending SCI-Arc in Downtown Los Angeles ( and was hoping to get some preliminary foresight from you on places to go for study abroad next Fall 2005. I am a graduate student of architecture, 33 yrs-old, married, with a 9 yr old girl and 7 yr old boy. Basically, we want to do 4 months abroad next Fall in a location where I can take my family. I'm trying to setup some criteria with my school studio partners and would like you to help us think "outside the box"; There are about 10-20 of us that want to go abroad.

The premise for study abroad would be to take our digital skills, mind you our program is highly non-traditional and based on digital/virtual architecture, and apply them in a non-digital environment. So far, we have just tossed around ideas without having a true understanding of the logistics of setting up camp in a remote location.

Here are some initial criteria we are thinking are important, but correct us if we are wrong. These are in order of importance...

1. US Currency would need to be strong
2. Weather would need to be warm (70 F +)
3. Coastal or Island atmosphere preferable

Optional criteria would be...

1. Surfing & warm water
2. Chance to make money/work
3. Proximity to a school of architecture to oversee us (though we may get an instructor to sponsor us)

Hope to start a little dialog with you about this and thank you so much for your show!!! Off the top of your head or after a little research, can you think of a few places (3 to 5 -- or more if you have time) for us to consider?

Take care,

Steve Fuchs

School Blog at


Email Response 1:

Thanks for your e-mail and thanks for listening to the show. Incidentally where do you hear the program? As we are in syndication it is always good to know which station is actually getting the program onto the airwaves.

As for your question about where to go abroad next fall -- here are my thoughts on each of your questions:

1. US Currency would need to be strong - At the moment the eliminates most of Europe where the Euro is strong and it takes a bushel of dollars to buy a cup of coffee. The one exception is Turkey which is on Turkish Lira and 20,000,000 (twenty million Turkish Lira) -- about $17 will buy a nice meal for two - with Efes beer - delicious. Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam are also great regions where the dollar gets a lot of bang.

2. Weather would need to be warm 70 F+ - In October Turkey, Thailand, Cambodia or Vietnam. Also New Zealand/Australia

3. Coastal or Island atmosphere preferable - Turkey's coast is the best in the Med (places like Bodrum, Kas, Gochek) , Vietnam (around China Beach) is nice and I understand that Thailand's Islands are delightful -- although somewhat touristic. Australia's gold coast is beautiful -- lots of islands from Hamilton Island up to the Barrier Reef.

Optional criteria would be...

1. Surfing / warm water - Australia has surf - some along the South China Sea - Thailand/Vietnam

2. Chance to make money/work - Maybe Turkey although if you did it officially you would need a work visa (not sure in your field -- but possibly in tourism industry) I don't know about the far east and their laws about employment.

3. Proximity to a school of architecture to oversee us, though we may get an instructor to sponsor us - Ah, that is a bit outside of my expertise.

Oct 27, 04 1:53 pm


as an alternative to thailand, consider ecuador [south america]. our currency is the dollar. there are beach towns like montanita and canoa that are big on the surfing route. you could have a home base in guayaquil. if thailand doesn't work, send me an email. i teach in a university down here and would be happy to exchange further ideas. beach season is strong dec - may but october is already warm. downsides: surfing towns might be semi-populated with leftover hippie americans from the 60's, but for every tainted town there's a ton of fishermen towns that can be pretty cool.

ps. also a fan of the blog.

Oct 27, 04 5:00 pm

If you need more information about Thailand ,I 'd be glad to help.
I graduate from the Fauclty of Architecture ,Chula . :)

Dec 16, 04 2:01 am

spent a month in brasil - highly recommend

Dec 16, 04 4:13 am

I spent a semester abroad through SCI-arc at RMIT in Melbourne, Australia. It was one if the best experiences of my life and offered a different approach to teaching architecture that SCI-arc doesn't offer.
I stayed in a hostel for two weeks looking for housing since RMIT didn't have anything set up (You need to buy a mobile phone when you get there). The weather got surprisingly cold but the summer was great for surfing. Our studio would often meet in the pub across the street. Buy a used bike. Use the tram. Eat the pumpkin. Drink Carlton. Learn the language. Shop Brunswick St. Life there is good.

Dec 16, 04 11:47 am

what about greece?

Dec 16, 04 12:19 pm

Ya, I'm very interested in RMIT... anyone else know of it / been there? Please email me at

I'm planning on taking my wife and 2 kids, too. (Ages 9 and 6... 10 and 7 by next Fall 2005).

Thank you

Dec 16, 04 2:07 pm

rmit is in a city.......... very civilized and very technology based

Dec 16, 04 5:12 pm

Yes, RMIT is in a city. The city is Melbourne and it is one of the best contemporary cities in the world. Email me for further info on RMIT.

Dec 16, 04 5:31 pm

ah.... love to see the terms "going native" and "very civilized"
please go forth and understand the other. maybe you and your sci-arc clan can teach them MAYA and fire.

Dec 16, 04 9:03 pm

To be clear, my interests have changed from "going native". Relocating for a few months to another country is good enough. Australia is sounding great. Similar enough for my wife not to go into total culture shock, but different enough for my kids to get a taste of the world outside of Los Angeles/USA. Plus, the US dollar is pretty strong over there, and RMIT has a fantastic media lab.

Dec 16, 04 9:49 pm

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