Why I chose to study abroad: an acting student's perspective
Australian Camilo Lascano Tribin was recently accepted into atlantic, a prestigious new york drama school. He anticipates the big move and what it will mean for his career.
I was born in Bogot์, Colombia and came to Australia when I was eight years old. I’m now 22, and I’ve just finished my Bachelor of Arts majoring in history and Spanish at the University of Sydney.
I was always passionate about performance, and for a long time thought I was going to be an orchestral musician, a violinist. When I was 15, I started getting into musical theatre and got voice training at my high school, the Sydney Conservatorium High School [a specialist music school]. It was when I started doing musicals that I started to fall in love with acting and when I got to uni I joined the drama society and just kept falling in love.
I’m about to move to New York to complete an Advanced Diploma of Performance (Acting). The reason I wanted to apply for a school in the US is because firstly there was nothing in Australia that inspired me in terms of my education. Secondly, Atlantic’s acting philosophy and their whole approach to acting and the acting profession appeals to me. I really like the way their course is structured, the method that they use, and the way that in your final semester they teach you the business side of the relationship and help you make really amazing connections. The school gives you the opportunity to work with some fantastic people while you develop as an actor. Sam Shepard, Ethan Cohen and David Mamet are just a few of the wonderful theatre and film industry people the school gives you a chance to develop a professional relationship with.
The application process was very simple. All the information I needed was online and the very few times I had a problem I would just email the head of admissions and she would answer me within a couple of days. The application process, including the eventual audition, was very exciting and fun. The visa application process was also straightforward. Being an Australian citizen helped, as a lot of countries have good immigration policies for Australians.
I think Americans understand the industry a lot better than Australians do. From what I know about the leading institutions in Australia and the ones in the USA, US schools seem to provide their students with more tangible work prospects. Most schools in the USA devote classes to showing you how to go about making your own work, starting your own theatre company, how to work at getting an agent, how to make it past the first round of an audition. It seems to me that the schools in the US treat acting like it’s an actual profession, something you can actually make a living out of. Australian schools, at least from what I can see, are not there yet. Sure, they will teach you how to act, but they don’t seem to teach you how to be a business person and sell the product you have: you.
I’m looking forward to being surrounded by theatre makers 24/7. I can’t wait to live, breath and eat this stuff; it’s just so exciting. I’m excited about getting constructive criticism back from people that I trust and I’m looking forward to constantly being put to the test. The challenge excites me, and at the end of it I will be a much better performer than when I came in.
I think one of the biggest disadvantages to being an international student will be the lack of support that you have in the city you are studying in. My biggest concern is financial stability and how that will affect my studies, as I will need to work quite hard in order to afford rent and all other living expenses while still working hard at my education.
Most of my family has taken the news very well, they’re very proud that I was accepted. I still haven’t told my mother, as I haven’t built up the courage to tell her I’m not going to be a doctor like her. All my friends have been over the moon, most of them because they’re in the theatre as well and understand that this is one of the best schools in the world.
All in all everyone has been very supportive and whenever I’ve had a moment of doubt, they have been there to give me the support I need.
I have no idea what to expect for this course, I don’t have a life in New York, a network, a safety net. The fact that for the months before I get there - and the first couple of months after I get there - I expect to feel like I’m in no man’s land.
I think also leaving your very comfortable life can be another difficult aspect of international study. However, the experience and knowledge that I’ll gain from study overseas is priceless.