The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) is the country’s national performing arts institution for Music, Dance, Drama, Production, Film and Education. Every year, students from all over the world join us to hone their skills in their chosen craft, whilst having the opportunity to collaborate with peers across the disciplines. Their extraordinary work is showcased in various spaces throughout the UK and Europe, with a majority occurring in our very own vibrant campus in the heart of Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city and the third largest in the UK.
We spoke to some of our current students who hail from the USA to discover more about their journey to RCS, how they’ve found their time in Scotland so far, and their thoughts on studying the arts abroad.
If you are planning on travelling overseas at some point, taking up a course of study abroad is a great way of exploring different ways of life. BA Acting student Mabel Thomas notes: “I had never been to the UK or Europe before coming to study in Glasgow. I was really interested in studying abroad and learning about a new culture. Although Glasgow is a city, it's so accessible to the Scottish Highlands and the rest of Europe.”
The UK and Europe generally is a hotbed of opportunity and adventure for students from the US. So why Glasgow, and why Scotland? “There is an unreal amount of cultural experiences, the amazing landscape, the arts culture that is so supportive and explorative…the kindness of the Scottish.” Shanae’a Moore, a MA Classical and Contemporary Text student from Juneau, Alaska, received a warm welcome upon her arrival in the city. “…Scots treat you like you are their brother. How can that not be absolutely adored?” Speaking of her choice to study at RCS specifically, Mabel continues: “RCS alumni are doing all kinds of incredible work and I wanted to be a part of a program with such an array of successful grads…I was so excited by the chance to study in Glasgow. Many US universities have term abroad programs but they still seem very contained within the university and quite short, so the opportunity to study in a foreign country for my entire degree seemed like something I wouldn't want to pass up.”
Planning for a short holiday abroad can seem a daunting prospect, let alone moving there. With visas, bank accounts and a new phone number to set up just some of the concerns facing international students, we ask: is it worth all the hassle? Mabel thinks so. “Leaving home and studying in Scotland is one of the best decisions I've ever made. It did make me grow up quite a bit, being in a foreign country and taking care of myself, but in the best way possible. I'm confident I can go out into the world a functioning adult now because I've been living as one for the past three years. It is tough sometimes being so far from family but in the end its 100% worth it to receive the quality of training I'm getting and having so many cool experiences.”
Coleman Campbell is a MA Musical Theatre student from Charlotte, North Carolina. To him, both the reputation and the length of the programme of study were huge plusses. He adds: “…the rich cultural experience cannot be matched and it is such a joy to be able work with peers from all over the world who share a common passion for their craft and a respect for each other.”
Looking ahead to post-graduation and their careers ahead of them, how do our students feel RCS has prepared them for the professional world? One of our Masters of Music students noted: “All of our rehearsals and performances have been preparing us for the professional world. We must be prompt with music learned. I've learned so much by being coached by and rehearsing alongside professional musicians like the Brodskys and the RSNO [Royal Scottish National Orchestra].” A recurring theme of our conversation was the importance of industry mentorship and participation in preparing for a career in the arts, with visiting artists including Manchester Collective, Matthew Sharp, Nadine George, Giles Havergal (according to our student and undoubtedly many others (“…like, THE expert in Shakespearean text/performance”), and many others across the disciplines offered at RCS .
So is studying overseas for you? It was for Coleman: “This really is a world-class institution, with a very challenging but rewarding program, set in a breath-taking location. The unique experience of getting to work with people from all over the world has been a dream come true.” Shanae’a thinks the positives outweigh the undeniable challenges. “It’s hard, yes…it’s scary, yes. Do it. Jump in and once you’re here, keep jumping in.”
This article was written with the kind assistance and contribution of some of our US students, including Coleman Campbell (MA Musical Theatre), Shanae’a Moore (MA Classical and Contemporary Text), Mabel Thomas (BA Acting), and others.