“I spent one academic year at Metropolia doing my exchange in the field of culture, degree programme in Music. Finland was just my third option as I am a warm weather person but I got accepted to Metropolia and I decided to go anyway. It was a chance to do an experience in a place where I did not expect going. I had been dreaming of going abroad since I was a kid so I backed a few jumpers and came to Finland. Metropolia was the only option for me that had pop and jazz in their selection and that’s why I chose Metropolia. In the end I’m super glad that I ended up here. I started to prepare by trying to learn the language a bit.
I studied pop and jazz performance and voice. Teaching and techniques at Metropolia are very different from my own conservatory in Italy. In Italy, conservatories are very theoretical. As Metropolia is a university of applied sciences, I felt difference from the beginning on. Students are helped more and we got concrete exercises. You get homework and it’s checked if you’re doing it. I think it’s good to be guided because it helps me. I noticed from the beginning on that level of people in Finland was higher than at home. We had a lot of possibilities to practice at school, we could book rooms and stay in the evenings to practice. The rooms were well equipped. It was mind-blowing that every room had everything, such as guitar amps and drums. We had a lot of performances during the whole academic year. That is the right way to do it, that’s how people learn to perform. I had two concerts during the first semester and a couple of concerts in the second semester. I went to see UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra in a concert and thought it would be so nice to perform with them. I did an audition at Metropolia and got in, I was really honored to have that opportunity. I really see a difference in how I perform, I grew up a lot. The level and preparation in Finland was much higher and kicked me, it was what I needed actually.
I used a lot of my free-time to practice, like most musicians. I did have time to do other things as well. I went to the city center to shop and to cafés with friends. Everything went so quick, I wish I would have gone out more to do things. I visited some cities in Finland and had nice pizza and pasta nights with the other Italian exchange students. I also went to Stockholm to Beyoncé’s concert, wow! My biggest challenge was being independent. I have always been living with my parents but I never had the chance to live on my own and I needed that to grow up. Now I feel like I have grown up and I’m proud of it. Also, I’m able to handle myself and my emotions better on my own. I had a small positive culture shock. As soon as I came here I noticed everything was more relaxed than in Italy. It made me realize how important well-being is here in Finland, that was one of the reasons I wanted to stay in Finland for a second semester.”
Tips from Chiara:
- Even if the exchange destination was not first on your list, go! You never know what you can find.
- Trust yourself, you are able to do whatever you want.
- Taking risks sometimes pays off.