Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Author: Berklee Staff (Page 1 of 21)

The Transformative Power of Studying Abroad 

Katie Irwin, director of study abroad and special programs at Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain, offers a window into the power of studying abroad and the unique experience of living and studying in Valencia.

As director of study abroad and special programs at Berklee Valencia, I have the pleasure of working with 150 undergraduate students each semester who decide to take a leap of faith and study abroad in Spain. Some of my favorite moments are during orientation when I get to meet all the new students and hear about why they chose to study abroad. Many can’t pinpoint the exact reason but they knew they needed to do it. Others were looking forward to a smaller community and taking a breath and a break away from Boston. And for others this was a life-long dream that they had always wanted to do since high school. Regardless of what their reasons are, I can almost guarantee that what they thought their experience was going to be and what they thought would get out of it, was very different than the actual experience.

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The Future Is Reels

Rory Lyon McFadden, Berklee’s international education coordinator and recent alum, introduces her work with the Berklee International Student Advisory Board. 

With an international student population that represents over 100 different countries and forty percent of Berklee’s student body, the need for a student-led advisory board advocating for international student support and success was well past due. 

When Roberto Arruda came to me with the idea to create an international student advisory board, we hit the ground running immediately, thus designing the “BISAB” or Berklee International Student Advisory Board. While I was able to base some of the board descriptions and goals around those of other universities with similar programs, I also had to incorporate the unique challenges that international students at Berklee face—working in the music industry as non-citizens. Interest in the board spread quickly. By the beginning of the fall 2023 semester, the board was finalized with 11 members, all of whom represent different countries, cultures, backgrounds, and musical styles.

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A New Perspective on the Needs of International Students

Ray Seol, assistant professor of Professional Music, provides an insight into his research on international students’ lived experiences.

Twenty-three years ago, I arrived in the US, fueled by a dream of becoming the world’s premier jazz bassist. My music college was a tight-knit community where I was one of only three international students. This unique position allowed me to collaborate with a variety of ensembles. However, I bitterly realized that it wasn’t necessarily because of my diverse background, but primarily due to the limited number of bassists available. Those collaborations were some of the highlights of my time there. Yet, that period also brought its challenges. Being among the few international students, it was evident that the college lacked the infrastructure to support our unique needs. Beyond the international office that handled my I-20 stamp, there wasn’t much else in terms of assistance. Fast forward to today, I’m at Berklee, arguably the most renowned music college globally. Here, I see a vibrant community of international students, each chasing their dreams. What’s even more commendable is the robust support system Berklee has in place for them, showcasing how far we’ve come in understanding and catering to the needs of international students.

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Tribute to Lee Eliot Berk

Portrait of Lee Burk in regaliaLee Eliot Berk, the son of Berklee’s founder Lawrence Berk and the school’s namesake, served as Berklee’s second president for 25 years over his 38-year career at the institution. During his tenure, Berklee greatly expanded in size and reach, becoming a world-renowned leader in contemporary music education. His immeasurable contributions to Berklee and the world of music have established a visionary and transformative legacy.

To learn more about Lee Berk and the Berk family, you can explore two digital exhibits presented by the Berklee Archives: the Berk Family Collection and Lee Eliot Berk.

Share your stories and memories of Lee in the comments section below.

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The Future (and the Present) Is International

Roberto Arruda, director of International Student Services and Study Abroad, shares his perspective on international education and introduces International Education Week (IEW).

The first time I heard of Berklee, I was a novice saxophone student trying to figure out how to play a middle C# in tune. It was the pre-social media era of the early nineties in Brazil. Three decades later, it is clear to me why Berklee’s reputation had such reach. I am lucky to have the insider’s perspective of Berklee’s complex internationalization structures and I am constantly impressed by the diverse ways in which this institution engages with international education.

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