Living away from your family is a situation that's very hard to deal with - what more if you're an eager teenager who decided to study abroad? At a young age, the experience of not being at home - even in your own country - is a very daunting situation to deal with. Away from the comforts of your home, your group of friends - how do you imagine to live?
That's what Berklee College of Music student - Annatasha Saifol dealt with before she decided to pack her bags and go to Boston, Massachusettes for her studies. In this interview, this sound engineer hopeful (she wants to work at the Music Department of Pixar's Animation Studio in Emeryville, California), she shares with us how she coped from living abroad and why you should also consider pursuing studies overseas if you have the chance.
How did you decide on what course to study after your high school?
Well at first, I decided to go into Culinary School, of which I finished, because it was the only form of art that I hadn't ventured into yet.
Though music and performing arts have always been my true loves, I had to try something different. I was young. I couldn't have possibly known what was my "path" without trying a couple of different things first.
One of the baked goodies Annatasha used to make, Macarons!
What made you decide to go to Berklee College of Music?
When I went to visit a friend in December 2013, I saw how amazing the school was. It was like Hogwarts for musicians! And it still truly is. I decided I had been working (with my online pastry business) long enough to put that on hold and chase my musical dreams. I auditioned, and if I hadn't gotten into Berklee, I would've not tried to pursue a music education. But I got in! Yay!
Share with us some memorable moments in Boston.
There are so many that I don't where to start?! Probably making the friends I have today with our chill nights on forbidden roof tops, having deep conversations about wheat the world has to offer us/what we have to offer the world. They're from all over the globe as well so those conversations are always insightful as different cultures perceive music as a career differently. I've been here for a year!
(photo from: berklee.edu)
What are the top three things you would recommend any students to do in Boston?
- Lobster rolls by the harbour (lots of great things to do there too!)
- Drive out to the outskirts of Massachusetts (Cape Cod, New Hampshire, Maine) and check out the scenery
- Definitely catch a show (there's one going on every weekend, and probably by your favourite band because AMERICA!)
Share with us any memorable experience in your campus's life. What makes it unforgettable?
Getting to meet people on and off campus that were my heroes in high school. It's not the level of stardom that they hold that makes it unforgettable, but rather the fact that they are just mere human beings that I look up to and that they're all within reach, no matter how big we think the world is.
What are the top three tips you will give to students who would like to study music?
- Don't be intimidated my your peers. You will definitely meet people better at the craft than you are and THOSE are the people you should hang out/practice with. (The boys that play music with me at home have always advised me this)
- Don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and learn music that you would have never DREAMED of playing. You might be surprised how much you like a new genre and how well you play it!
- THERE WILL BE DAYS where you'll feel incompetent. Like this is not made for you. Those days are the worst. But those days are only superficial. And surround yourself with positive vibes and always remind yourself that you DESERVE to be there.
What are the top five items you cannot live without during college?
- Good internet connection (for school and home-contacting purposes)
- The friends I've made from the beginning of my time here
- My Ghost Pepper chilli flakes (they are super spicy but helps me feel at home!)
- A great bed
What are the five important lessons you learned from studying abroad?
- Homesickness is inevitable, but containable
- Not everyone is friendly, but the friends you make will possibly be forever
- Having thick skin around people who are culturally ignorant is a good trait to have
- Be open to criticism; especially since they are from professionals who have been doing this longer than you
- It's good to stay humbled
To deal with homesickness, Annatasha made a sort film about it. Watch it here.
Would you recommend studying abroad? Why? (or why not?) For those who are already in overseas and having difficulty (e.g. homesickness, financial, etc), what would you like to tell them?
DEFINITELY. You know, sometimes people just want to study abroad for the great certificate from a great school but it's more than just that. It's about the experiences, the time you spend alone without anything familiar around you. It's a really amazing feeling. Yes, stresses about finances and homesickness will definitely come about; just remember that school is never too long, it's not forever. And that when you finish, you are in COMPLETE control of wherever you wanna go, even if it's to return home.
(photos courtesy of Annastasha's Instagram Account)