From Tasmania to Towson

By: Stef Foster, Columnist

“So how on earth did you end up at Towson all the way from Tasmania?” is a question I get asked regularly.

The answer is that The University of Tasmania (UTAS), like Towson, has a number of study abroad partner institutes. These institutes agree to accept students into their program, and then they reciprocate by sending their own students back. Students continue to pay their regular tuition fees at their home university, but derive their study credits from the abroad institute.

As a contemporary composition music student and songwriter, it made sense for me to study in the US in order to be close to one of the world’s biggest pop music industries. I didn’t want to go too far south so as not to be isolated for travel, and I definitely didn’t want to go too far north as the Maryland winter has been quite enough for this cold Australian to handle, thank you very much!

Towson seemed to be in an ideal location; close to Baltimore, Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York. Also, the idea of a college town appealed to me. Towson has a commercial and jazz composition department and a full recording studio setup, which is less common in the US as most music schools seem heavily focused on the traditional, classical approach.

My study abroad advisor had recently been on a trip to visit several of UTAS’s U.S. partners and raved about Towson’s amazing campus and facilities. I spent countless hours browsing websites, researching my options and learning about housing, student organizations, courses, facilities and access to transport. I put in applications to several universities, but had my heart set on Towson.

At 7 a.m. on May 15, 2014 (which was 5 p.m. May 14th for you guys) I had a Skype audition with two music department faculty members. I sang two pieces for them and accompanied myself on guitar and keyboard, much to the delight of my sleeping housemates, and was then asked to sight-read a section of music and clap several bars of rhythms.

I can tell you, this is the one time I can ever remember being grateful for a dodgy (sketchy) Internet connection! I totally fluffed up one of the rhythms but with the intermittent video signal and the sound coming through in dribs and drabs, the professors kindly gave me the benefit of the doubt.

At 7:40 a.m. I received the joyous email announcing that I had been accepted to study abroad at Towson University, Towson, Maryland, USA! And the rest, as they say, is history.

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