Student experience comes full circle in study abroad
Senior Music major Andrew Johnson never could have imagined he would end up back in America performing in the nation's capital as part of his semester studying abroad at Sweden's Lund University. But that's exactly what happened to the UNC Asheville trombone player.
True to his liberal arts education foundation, Johnson took a broad array of courses at Lund, including a Swedish language course and anthropology, multimedia and religious studies classes.
While there, he also sought out opportunities to play music. A fellow student on his hall was the assistant concert master for the Lund Academic Orchestra. He told Johnson they needed more trombone players. Soon Johnson was playing and rehearsing with the orchestra. He later also joined a brass quintet.
The Academic Orchestra was not a community or paid band, but rather, as Johnson explained, a group of students with an academic focus in other fields who possessed legitimate musical talent and loved to play.
Andrew Johnson '11 in front of the main building at Lund University.
After successful performances at the university, Johnson's experience came full circle when he was invited to travel for two weeks with the orchestra's brass quintet to perform in the United States. Among the venues was the prestigious Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The group also played at the Swedish Embassy, the Swedish Ambassador's residence and at a Swedish church service.
Johnson, who had only been to D.C. once as a youngster, said visiting the city felt like a new and fun experience, which helped him relate to his Swedish bandmates.
"I didn't know anything about D.C.," Johnson said. "I was a tourist myself."
Johnson learned about the opportunity to study in Sweden from a Lund student who came to study at UNC Asheville. Their discussions made the transition to life in another country smoother for Johnson. When he arrived in Lund, his friend helped him out and found him a place to stay in the same apartment complex.
Although he is not yet set on a firm career path, Johnson said he would love to visit Sweden again—perhaps even for work. He has begun looking into jobs with Swedish furniture giant IKEA. It doesn't hurt that he now has established contacts in Sweden.
"I know if I went back I would be welcome," Johnson said.