In spring 2013, Laura Eskola, an exchange student from Finland, was looking for something where she could make new friends, play her violin and live in the USA. When she came across Youngstown State University’s study abroad program, she said she immediately knew it was the right choice for her.
Eskola said she wanted to apply to the study abroad program after hearing about it because it would involve two of her favorite things: music and traveling.
“It works out perfectly because I have always wanted to go to the states, and I really wanted to make new friends,” she said. “The program was also very reasonable in terms of price. I really didn’t know what else to do, and it was kind of like a natural choice. That’s when I knew YSU was the perfect program for me.”
A native from Jyvaskyla, Finland, Eskola has been studying the violin and piano since she was 4 years old. She said that music has always been something that has come naturally to her.
“I can’t really think about [music] because it is something that I have always done,” she said. “I like it because it can give you the freedom to be expressive and let you be yourself while you are playing.”
After she arrived at YSU in fall 2013, Eskola began to experiment with the Dana Symphony and Chamber Orchestras. She also tried acting, which was something she would have never thought she would do in her entire life.
“After I started to act, I became heavily involved in the theater department, and it was very nice,” Eskola said. “I never would have thought in a million years that I would be one to act. I’ve mainly focused on music my whole life, and after taking the [acting] class, I have a new passion for it.”
Besides acting, she also began to improve her piano and violin skills with her two private teachers John Wilcox and Cicilia Yudha.
Yudha, a piano professor at YSU, said that she loved teaching Eskola during her weekly piano lessons because of her sunny personality and polite manners.
“Every week she would come in very energetic and enthusiastic to learn new techniques,” she said. “I can tell early on that she was really interested in doing lots of things and will have a very bright future later.”
Yudha also said that despite all of the programs Eskola was involved in on campus, she would always keep a positive attitude and improved various techniques every week.
“You can tell that when she came in to her lessons she was very tired,” Yudha said. “She always came in ready to learn and really tackled various Brahm’s pieces despite her busy schedule.”
Eskola said that she has been blessed to have Wilcox and Yudha as her private instructors at YSU.
“They are two of the most amazing people I have met here,” Eskola said. “They have really given me some great advice, and I have really improved my playing.”
Although Eskola will have to return back to Finland soon, she said she will always remember all of the people she met and never forget the memories she made while studying at YSU.
“I like YSU, and I love the people I met here. It was an amazing experience,” she said. “YSU is a great university and sometimes people can think it is rough around the edges, but once you get here you met so many amazing people and realize that it isn’t so bad after all.”