Q: Hi Shravana, it is hard to believe that it's a year since you graduated from the IBDP at Dover Court. How are you enjoying university life in the US?
I’m really loving it! I’ve made good friends and I’m loving exploring the area. It’s very cozy in the city of Boston, and the city life is much like Singapore. The university environment too is amazing and is so happening, I find myself constantly occupied, be it with watching performances or working at them (I got a job as an usher at Berklee’s auditorium), playing instruments, being in jam sessions with others, writing songs, or simply just trying to catch up on my ear training and harmony assignments.
Q: What do you feel has been the highlight of your first year at university?
The first thing that comes to mind is the vast exposure I’m getting. Berklee is a big and competitive school and everyone here is so talented, and by watching and getting exposed to so many different performances and the different styles, I’m learning so much. Recently I got to attend the ICCAs which is a national acapella competition in the US (practically like in Pitch Perfect!) and I found such a huge newfound appreciation for acapella even though I loved it before already.
Q: What has been most challenging with your move across the globe and starting university?
I feel like for me, the weather was the hardest part. Boston is known to have notoriously harsh winters, and being from Singapore, the weather adjustments took a toll on my body and I lost my voice for a while - not great for a voice student at a music school. But as with anything, I think it just takes time to adjust. I’ve gotten a supportive group of friends and I’m lucky to be best friends with my roommate and that just made settling into university a whole lot easier.
Q: How did the IBDP and Dover Court International School prepare you for university life?
In the first couple of months, I couldn’t stop talking about how I couldn't have known how to plan my time to do everything I want to without the IBDP. Although merely getting by in classes wouldn’t be hard, time management is so crucial here if you want to actually get the most of the opportunities. I also think I’m much more resilient because of the IB. For example, it was a really hard jump when I first started taking jazz harmony because that is something I hadn’t been exposed to then, whereas it seemed like most of my classmates had. But I persevered through it to fully understand, and I practiced as I practiced for HL Math, and I got through it.
I have a lot to say about how DCIS prepared me for university life. I have to thank DCIS for the way it prepared me for professional positions. I managed to land 2 jobs on campus on my first try, which I heard is really rare, as well as get a summer internship at the renowned Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Having the opportunity to be Head of the Communications and Wellbeing Committee and being House Captain at DCIS gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about leadership which I feel is a big thing that’s looked for at any interview. For me especially at Berklee, every opportunity is meant to lead to a meaningful career and I feel Dover Court has prepared me very well to know how to take a hold of the opportunities.
Q: How easy has it been to settle in the US?
I think at first, it was difficult because of the weather adjustments, as well as diet adjustments (I could no longer get my mom’s cooking everyday!) I feel Boston is quite similar to Singapore in terms of structure because of all the skyscrapers around and how easy it is to take the train to places, which is not the case in many other parts of the US. That made it much easier for me to settle here. I also have friends here who are from the US who have been able to teach me things about the culture here that I don't already know but it hasn’t been drastic as it’s not far too different from what I’m used to, and most things I’d already been exposed to due to the media. The biggest shock I had here though was the price of everything. I’m not sure about other places in the US, but the difference in price between getting the same thing here and in Singapore shocked me. The cost of living here is quite crazy.
Q: Do you feel that your university has been supportive?
Most definitely. They have ample resources, be it for academics or for wellbeing. For example, during exam season they have massage sessions you can sign up for, and throughout the semester they have weekly yoga sessions. They also have free tutoring services for the core classes, and office hours where you can drop-in to see the professors and ask questions. The biggest difference between high school and university though is that things will not be spoon fed to you, teachers will not come to you. If you need help you have to seek it out, and I think Berklee has made that easy to do.
Q: Are you happy with your choice of course?
I'm doing a Bachelor of Music degree, and I'm majoring in Vocal Performance. I haven't declared my minor yet but I'm planning on doing a Musical Theatre minor.
There’s absolutely nothing I would rather do. I’ve known music has been my passion since a very young age and I’m very privileged to have this opportunity, to be going to one of the best music schools in the world. I find that I’m learning so much without even realising it, and when I do pause to reflect, I’m astounded by how much I have, both inside of classrooms and outside.
Q: Deciding where you would like to study is a big decision. Do you have any advice to our current Sixth Formers for choosing a course and university?
I would say, think about what you would love doing for the rest of your life. What I feel is that if you choose a job you’d love doing regardless of the pay, then your life will be blissful, because you’re going to be spending a huge part of your life at work. Same goes with choosing a university and course. Choose the course that you’d enjoy, and go for the university you feel your heart connects to, the one your bones resonate with. I think it’s a feeling. You’re going to be spending 3 or 4 years at this place, and some even more. Adults have always told me college is one of the highlights of their lives. So I’d say, choose a place you know you’re going to be happy in!