Maria Frances Marinay - 2014 Program Participant
Program note for Maria Frances’ Improv Assessment under J Latiraja.
What made you select England for your study abroad program?
It was all by chance, really. Upon graduating from my Entrepreneurial Management degree, I knew for sure that I wanted to travel and explore the world further whilst cultivating my love for dance, so one day I Googled “dance programs abroad”, and came across Performing Arts Abroad and their Dance Semester in England program. It took it off from there. I saw it as a fantastic opportunity because I have always loved the idea of traveling across Europe, and England is definitely the best place to start from.
What makes England such a great place for studying dance abroad?
The dance community is amazing! They are inspiring and supportive. They work really hard and are all very passionate. Surrounding yourself with this kind of crowd makes you want to be like them, so if inspires you to work harder. Dance in England is also very diverse, so you get to do almost anything under the sun and the community will still welcome and appreciate you for your artistry.
What was a typical day like as a student in England?
My typical day would be waking up at 6:00 a.m., have breakfast, catch up on emails, and/or talk with friends and relatives back in the Philippines (they are seven to eight hours ahead!), prepare for my dance classes (meaning I'd warm up, do some exercises, stretch..things like that), go to dance class, have lunch, watch some movies/series or read a book, do more dance and core exercises because I really needed to catch up with the rest of the students (I wasn't trained at all and they all have been dancing technique for quite some time, I didn't. I was basically a beginner), and do whatever I fancy for the rest of the day.
Once a week I got to watch a play/musical for my Introduction to London Stage class, and since I was only taking up a few modules, I used the time to walk around London, familiarise myself with the area, discover beautiful little places and gaze at scenic spots, and tick off items from my London to see and do list (which mostly involved loads of food adventures and random places that only locals would know about!).
Tired, sweaty but ecstatic after receiving the "golden ticket" entitling her to an opportunity to audition for a Wilkes Academy scholarship.
What was the most memorable part about studying abroad in London?
There's not a single thing that I can point out because I saw the entire experience to have impacted me in so many different ways, therefore each moment hold a special place in my heart. Although, I would say that the opportunities I had related to dance were really unforgettable. I got to meet Got To Dance winner Lukas McFarlane and other finalists, attended Move It, HDI Commercial Weekend, and Pulse On Tour. I was given the chance to audition for a scholarship with Wilkes Academy in Swindon, which I didn't get but was one crazy experience! And of course, as of the moment, I am part of Studio 68 London, Company 68 which is amazing and still surreal after dancing with them in Dancer's Delight, World Of Dance - London, and a number of dance videos.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in London?
The biggest challenge for me was making ends meet. I am from the Philippines, and I do not come from a rich family. Given these and the power that the British pound has, I had to make do with the allowance that I get from my Mom. The cost of living is so much different on both sides of the world. It took real guts and serious financial management to make it work. I didn't get to go and do all that I wanted to, and I walked more because it was free and London transportation is expensive. I was looking for internships and part-time jobs which, fortunately, I found after my first term in London. Even with the financial challenges that I faced, I still loved being here. London made me a better person; it helped me discover myself even further. I especially don't regret hours of walking because it led to great places that I would have never seen if I rode the train, bus, or tube.
What advice would you give students interested in studying abroad?
Know what you want, identify what you exactly have to do to get it, then do it. But most of all, take some time to stop, take your headphones off, and live the moment. It might only happen once, so make the best of it.
Who doesn't love Harry Potter?
Why do you think everyone should study abroad?
It's an exciting adventure! You get to see the world in a bigger perspective and while you're learning about the world around you and meeting new people, you learn more about yourself.
How has your study abroad experience changed who you are?
I would never be as mature and passionate and as "me" right now if not for my study abroad experience.
If you could go abroad again, where would you go?
I would go on a backpacking trip around Europe and do an Eat, Pray, Love sort of thing: do whatever it is that the country is best for and immerse myself into it.