My experience in Prague was filled with moments that will shape the course of my life for years to come. Before this trip, I was unaware of what it meant to study in an international city or attend an art school with a formal critiquing process. In addition to my academic experience, my time working with sound for film, both in the field and in studio has immediately shaped my vocational goals. In brief, my study abroad in Prague helped make me a more conscious global citizen, prepared me better for the continuation of my education and provided clarity on my future career goals.
I came to Prague with twelve other students from IU to study filmmaking at FAMU, or the Film and TV Academy of the Performing Arts. While my immediate classmates were also from the US, the other students at the university, students in popular study spots and at our dormitory had come from all over the world to study there. I had the pleasure of meeting and befriending students from China, Mexico, Russia, and India, as also those from towns outside of Prague and other regions of the Czech Republic. Seeing some of my new friends’ perceptions of the US, their ideas of academics, and their overall opinions on what it means to be alive was eye-opening. Attending IU, I was familiar with the idea of a global campus. However, this experience studying abroad was reaffirming. It reminded me that the world was much bigger than my cream and crimson school.
After finishing undergrad at IU, my goal was to continue my education with a graduate degree in sound design. Sound design, while inherently technical, was also an art. What I have been told was that attending art school was quite different from attending a research institution. I experienced that firsthand in Prague. Frankly speaking, I faced some professors who were brutally honest with their critiques. However, everything that was said was constructive. It felt as though my production methods and scores were being torn apart so that they could be made better. If this was standard art school procedure, then I believe that whatever I face in the US may be quite mild, comparatively speaking.
Our course was extremely hands-on, as it was a class in producing short films. I had the unique position of being the only student with a background in audio production. As a result, I ended up being the boom operator, sound engineer and composer for three short films. Though strenuous, it exposed me to various facets of sound and music in the film industry. A thing I found funny yet beneficial, when one was thinking about prospective careers, was filmmakers’ disdain for sound. It was not denounced as unimportant to making movies, but it was seen as something auxiliary to the visual experience. It was something that filmmakers did not want or were unequipped to work with. After speaking with professors and my fellow students, this seemed to be standard within the film industry. Because of this, I am strongly considering my focus in sound design to be film-centric.
Overall, studying abroad provided me with perspectives socially, academically, and vocationally. I feel more prepared to be a global citizen, prepared for my graduate studies, and delighted at the prospect of a career in film sound. Studying abroad in Prague was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which I will forever be thankful for.