Tag Archives: international students

An unforgettable experience; international student Anne Urabayen reflects on getting involved in music

Welcoming overseas students to Kent and making them part of the University community is very much part of what we do here in the extra-curricular Music department. In this post, Anne Urabayen, from Bilbao, who has spent the past year studying at Kent, reflects on her experience, which was generously supported by the Barry Wright Legacy.

When I arrived at the University in September, I did not know how important the Music Society was going to be during my year abroad. I have always loved music and I have been playing the viola for more than 10 years now. My favourite part of playing an instrument is being able to create music together, specially in orchestras. I did not want to stop playing for a year and after doing some research I discovered that Kent Uni had a big music programme. I only needed to solve one problem, how to obtain a viola for a year. Thankfully, Sophie and Dan helped me with all the process and I was able to play in the String Sinfonia and in the Orchestra.

The University Orchestra rehearsing in Colyer-Fergusson Hall

During the first few days, I felt a little bit lost but everyone was incredibly welcoming and supportive. The rehearsals were a perfect blend of challenging and fun and it was nice to play with people that shared the same passion. Thank you to Flo (director of the String Sinfonia) and Dan, for conducting the Sinfonia and Orchestra with excitement and always having a smile on their faces. I will never forget Flo’s anecdotes during rehearsals or Dan’s enthusiasm. Thank you to Sophie, who helped me making this possible and is always available for her students.

The String Sinfonia rehearsing in St Mary of Charity church, Faversham: Anne seated second from left.
International student, Anne, playing in the annual concert in Canterbury Cathedral with the University Orchestra.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Orchestra and the String Sinfonia, you made me feel at home. My time with the Music Society at the University is something I will always treasure and everyone in the music society made it an unforgettable experience.

University Orchestra and Chorus rehearsing in Canterbury Cathedral

Supporting an international student musician: Aline Kellenberger

One of the excellent facilities the Music department is able to offer is particular support for international students involved in extra-curricular music at the University, thanks to the Barry Wright Legacy fund. Here, woodwind player Aline Kellenberger reflects on her experience with the University Symphony Orchestra and Concert Band this year.

One year ago I started to plan my Study Abroad at the University of Kent. As I was looking into all the different societies the university offered, I saw the music society with the Orchestra and the Concert
band. That day I decided not to join as it would be complicated to bring my oboe with me, both in luggage space and out of fear of something happening to my instrument.

I arrived in England last September for the autumn term, I joined different societies, met new people and overall enjoyed my time abroad. But two weeks into the term I already missed playing music. So I decided to get into contact with the Music Administrator of Kent, Sophie Meikle, and asked if I could rent an oboe for myself. She immediately answered me and told me that the music department would like to rent it for me. A few weeks later they also offered to rent the cor anglais!

One of the greatest things here at Uni has definitely been being able to practice together with so many people. Due to Covid all group rehearsals and concerts over the last years were cancelled, so it felt
really great to play with other people again. Especially being able to perform the Christmas Concert at the end of last year’s term together with the choir in front of an audience! I have now started my second term here at Kent and have another three months to look forward to playing with the Orchestra as well as the Concert band. If somebody had told me one year ago that I would get to play in the
Cathedral of Canterbury I would have not believed them.

The Symphony Orchestra rehearsing before the concert, conducted by Dan Harding. Photo: Jeni Martin

I am extremely grateful for the warm welcome I got from everyone in the music society and especially for this opportunity. Since I am an exchange student I was not able to bring my own instrument with me, this was due to the amount of luggage I could bring with me. The University of Kent gives me the chance to not only study abroad and improve my English, but also allows me to continue my hobby of 17 years. Playing with the Orchestra as well as the Big Band gives me new experiences, helps me keep up with practice and helps me improve my English. It is also a very good opportunity to improve my own skills by playing with so many different people.

Members of the Symphony Orchestra backstage before the performance

I decided to come to the University of Kent specifically for its language department and now I am so happy that I got the
opportunity to also join the music department.

Aline Kellenberger, University of Bern