Elyse Anderson - 2014 Program Participant

What inspired you to study abroad?

My entire life I have loved to travel, so the idea of studying and living in another country for a long period of time greatly appealed to me. I wanted to completely immerse myself in another country’s culture, which is exactly what I had the opportunity to do this past summer in Italy. Also, as a student who is very interested in the arts, I knew that studying abroad would allow me the opportunity to experience firsthand the overflowing amount of culture that exists abroad, specifically in Europe. 

Italian teachers with American study abroad student in Italy

Elyse’s amazing teachers, Susanna (left) and Camilla (right) who she was lucky to have the opportunity to study with. Susanna was the one of the best voice teachers Elyse has ever worked with--she wishes she could have brought Susanna back to the United States with her! Camilla and Elyse had the most wonderful time working on all of the pieces Susanna gave me, and Camilla helped Elyse perfect my Italian diction. She was a great accompanist!

What made you select Italy?

Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to go to Italy. I honestly cannot tell you the reason why, but I have always known that one day I wanted to go! Once I started studying solely classical voice, specifically opera, at the Peabody Institute and began taking Italian language classes, I knew that I was finally ready to make my dream come true. 

Why did you choose Performing Arts Abroad for your international experience? What sets PAA apart from out organizations?     

Performing Arts Abroad stands out to me because of the personalized approach that they take with each and every student who decides to participate in their program. From day one, I felt like I was in the best hands. I spoke with Reynolds and Ben about my various performing arts interests and they helped match me with the program that they thought was best. I decided upon a six-week program studying classical voice at the Florence University of the Arts with one of the greatest vocal coaches that Florence had to offer. The quality of the program, the teachers selected for me in Italy, and the one-on-one approach that they take are what make Performing Arts Abroad so different from other study abroad organizations.

What were your housing arrangements like  in Florence? What was your favorite part about your accommodation?

While in Florence, I stayed in a three bedroom, one bathroom apartment in the heart of Florence. I had four roommates who were all from different study abroad programs, but all of us were from the United States. My favorite part about my apartment was its proximity to the Uffizi Gallery and the Ponte Vecchio.

What was the most memorable experience you had in Florence?     

My favorite memory from my entire summer abroad is undoubtedly watching the sun set over the Arno River. As I walked home from class every day, I would take a few moments just to stand by the Ponte Vecchio and watch the sun set over the glistening water. It was the most beautiful, precious, and simple experience that I had in Italy, but it was so breathtaking that I will never be able to forget it.

Ponte Vecchio in Italy

One of the best parts of Elyse’s walk to school every day--passing the Ponte Vecchio!

What advice would you give to others interested in studying music in Italy?     

Do it!!! Studying music in Italy during the summer of 2014 was one of the most incredible experiences of my entire life. Having the opportunity to study the music of the great Italian composers under true Italian performing artists was surreal. I perfected my Italian diction for my arias and learned the true Italian “bel canto” technique. Especially if you are a singer, Italy is by far the best possible place to study music. 

How has your studying music abroad in Italy continued to impact your life?

One of the major lessons I learned while abroad is to simply enjoy life. The Italians truly appreciate life. They go to work during the day, enjoy going to aperitivo afterwards, and then return home to spend time with their families. Everyone is much more relaxed, happy, and at peace with their life, whereas in America we are all so concerned with work that I believe we forget to take a step back sometimes to appreciate what we have. For example, if you go to a café and order a coffee, you are not given a to-go cup, rather you sit down and enjoy your coffee before carrying on with your day. I feel like this is one of the most important lessons I learned while abroad: to sit down, drink your cup of coffee, go out with friends, and simply enjoy your life!

Panini shop customers in Italy

After spending six weeks abroad, Elyse’s and her roommate Audra had become so immersed in the Italian culture that they even had their favorite Panini shop next to school. The woman who worked there was sweet and would get so excited every time she saw them walk through the door. She even came to know their orders by heart! Elyse made sure to say goodbye before she left!

Would you recommend Performing Arts Abroad Music programs to others?

Yes! Performing Arts Abroad is such a fantastic company. They are so different from every other performing arts program out there. Not only do they hand select and match you with programs or internships abroad, but they will continually support you throughout your performing arts career by writing you letters of recommendation, as well as helping you make connections in America in your art form. Additionally, I believe that their mission is fantastic. Usually, conservatory or serious music students do not receive the opportunity to study abroad for it differs too greatly from their school’s curriculum, but PAA takes that obstacle away by providing classes of the same caliber and of the same style so that conservatory students can study abroad.

What makes Italy such a great place to study music abroad?

As the place where opera first originated with the Commedia dell’Arte, Italy is the perfect place to study music. The history and culture is surrounding you, whether it is in the incredible art and architecture that line the streets, the traveling musicians on the streets, or the orchestras and bands you hear performing on your way home from class. Music is an integral part of Italian culture and it is much more prevalent there than it is in America. If you are seriously interested in music, I highly recommend choosing Italy to study abroad.