Three accomplished AIM international students share their experiences of studying at the Australian Institute of Music. Students who joined us include Sheren Sujanto Bhakti from Indonesia (Contemporary – Drums), Nikola Alicia Gonzales Rosero from Phillipines (Music Theatre) and Navya Kapoor from India (Composition and Production). Read highlights or listen to the interview below.
What advice would you give to an international student coming to Australia to study at AIM?
Sheren: At Orientation Day, on my first day at AIM, [AIM vocal lecturer] Sam Walton told us to not be afraid to say yes to every opportunity. You’re starting from zero here, learning is not just going to class; you want to learn more from the experience. Don’t be scared to say yes [to gigs], even if you don’t know the genre at all. That’s how you learn, you force yourself to do it. Just be open, you’re here to study, so when people give advice – especially the teachers – they know what they’re doing, just trust them. That’s when you develop yourself, and your ideas and stuff.
Navya: So along with that, don’t be afraid to follow your own judgement and explore ideas that you have. Because when you take your ideas, which you may think aren’t good ideas [initially], or feel like you don’t know enough about them, if you go to a teacher that you trust, they might guide you in the right way as to how you would be able to succeed in that idea, or how that idea would really flourish. So don’t be scared of your own judgement, don’t be scared of your own conviction. You are a musician, you got accepted, you have musicianship – it’s not like you don’t know anything. The best way to grow is following your own intuition as well.
Nikola: For me, it is to expand your range. Even if you’re in a specific department, don’t be afraid to take electives that are out of your comfort zone, or ones you’ve never tried, because you’ve you’ve paid for this, and you’re studying music and you want to collaborate with different artists. So definitely do that. And it’s not always inside uni study. You learn this and that. It’s also good to audition. Go to gigs. And what else? Frozen vegetables are your best friend when you’re budgeting.
What is the best part of studying at AIM?
Sheren: For me, the best experience that I’ve had at AIM is that I get to meet a lot of people from different backgrounds. It has opened up my musicality as a musician as well. And then, because we’re from different backgrounds, we get to learn each other’s culture, which I find really cool, to collaborate with everyone in a music sense, also.
Nikola: I was going to say the same thing. Experiencing different cultures, backgrounds. Also, taking that big step, because it’s a whole act of independence, living on your own, studying abroad. It was actually my first time living alone and fending for myself.
My best memories are rehearsals. A lot of things happen in rehearsals, you get to mess around sometimes, you make fun of each other’s mistakes, and you move on. And those rehearsals bring inside jokes. So when you’re in performances, it makes you less nervous when you think about them.
Navya: Meeting new people – that’s a lot of fun. But also, because most of my friends are international students, it creates a community of thoughts. And we have most of the same hardships and most of the same triumphs, because we’re all leaving our country. We’re all leaving home ground and coming into this new world, and then trying to do what we want to do in the best way that we can. So it just creates beautiful relationships. That’s what my experience has been.