Pardon My French (Music)

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College itself is an exhilarating, exacting and enchanting experience. Add studying abroad into the mix – in France, to be precise – and one finds a wealth of opportunities before them.

Syracuse University graduate Carl Burdick, a music industry major, spent a semester abroad in Strasbourg, France for five months during the second semester of his sophomore year (Jan. 2008 to May 2008), including a weeklong music seminar in Germany (Leipzig, Berlin and Bayreuth) and some travel time. 

“I was made aware of the program by my school,” Burdick said. “Based on everything I was hearing about it, and my own personal interest, I thought it sounded like a great opportunity and something I couldn't pass up.”

Burdick said the program was specifically designed for Syracuse music majors, with core music theory and history classes, a required French language course for everyone in the program, as well aslessons in the trumpet, his instrument of choice.

Burdick was surprised that much of his experience did not have to do with trumpet playing like he expected.

“I saw lots of great performances with some of the world's top groups, saw some musically important historical sites, and learned a lot about my craft,” Burdick said. “But mostly, it was a very important social experience for me. Learning French, and learning to be independent in a foreign country took the front seat to playing the trumpet.”

Although his host family was not as welcoming as he’d hoped, he managed to make a plethora of fond memories, including an exciting St. Patrick’s Day.

“That night, we (the group of SU music students and professor) that I was with were going to a concert … the conductor turned around and addressed the audience, as happens quite frequently at concerts, but he spoke to us in English,” Burdick said.  

“That was a very nice thing for me, to feel as if I was no longer on the outside, but the other way around. [After the concert] some friends and I went to an Irish pub where Guinness was half off — they had a rock band playing American music from the 80s, and were giving out free mini shots of whiskey and t-shirts and other goodies.  It was really a fun night.”

Burdick is eager to return to Europe, and is hopeful that College Magazine readers will follow in his footsteps — and plane tickets – to make the trek abroad.

“Experience as much of the native culture as you can, put yourself outside of your comfort zone as much as possible,” he said. “For the musicians, aside from advising them to see as many concerts in as many places and learn as much as they can about music, I'd encourage them to make sure they don't miss the chance to experience the area in which they are studying in.”.

Burdick is currently a graduate student pursuing his masters in music theory and trumpet performance at the University of Cincinnati.

Freshman > Journalism > University of Maryland

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