How to get the most travel out of your degree

So… you’ve finished high school. You want to get a college degree. Phrassertantjasmount Where should you spend the next 4 years of life?

My advice: take 5 years, and learn the most through travel and study abroad.

Just after high school, I went to Rouen, France, with Rotary Club Student Exchange. I attended a French high school part-time and the Conservatoire de Rouen full-time. By the end of year 1, I was fluent in French, and could sing French coloratura with grace and ease.

Then I attended Pacific Lutheran University in Washington for 2 years. This is where my standard liberal arts education took place, so I can write beautifully in English (see this blog), as well as construct a fugue or chorale. I also sang a couple of operas, and learned how to die on stage (Street Scene, Anna Maurrant, 2007).

While at PLU, I signed up for another study-abroad program in Chengdu, China. WOW. Not only were my eyes opened to an entirely non-Western way of living, my heart was also touched by the tenacious humanity I witnessed in rural places like Tibet. And I also learned some much about Chinese music, including extensive work on a set of Chinese folk songs at the Conservatory in Chengdu. The MP3 of one of those is at the bottom of this post. The pictures below are from a trip to Mt. Everest, seen only by the light of the full moon, and a concert in Chengdu.

Everest in Moonlight


And after France, PLU, and China, I decided to formally finish my Bachelors degree at Oberlin Conservatory, in Ohio. This school is hardcore training for any would-be opera singer. I was completely immersed in music studies for two years, hardly coming out of them for socializing or free time. The theory and music history classes are fierce, though not nearly as fierce as the opera production auditions. domain info I sang in three operas while at Oberlin, and landed leading roles in all three.  Below is the most amusing of those- myself and Alexandra Roth as Stepsisters in Cendrillon (Cinderella).



Undergrad was simply an amazing experience- in which I learned equally about life and music. If you’re going to pay $40,000 a year, then take my advice and get the most bang for your buck: travel, ask questions about everything, and don’t waste a moment.

Extra goody: a recording of my favorite Chinese song that I learned in Chengdu, and will always keep in my repertoire. The English title is “The Rose’s Three Wishes”

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