13Apr
2018
Studying Abroad and Self-Realisation: A reflection by Nils Ström

Nils Ström is a JMC International Scholarship winner studying Contemporary Music Performance at our Sydney campus. He reflects on studying overseas, exploring a new city, and realising oneself as a creative...

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The term self-realisation has been stuck in my mind for a long time. I feel a strong connection to it, as if it summarizes my existence, the things I do and the purpose of it all, in the best way possible. Self-realisation can be described as “fulfilment by oneself of the possibilities of one's character or personality” (Mariam Webster 2018). Aiming to explore myself and my creativity, I consider it as being the greatest objective within any creative process that I undertake. This was not the case a few years ago; I dare to say that my creative thinking has continued to develop after moving to Sydney and studying Contemporary Music Performance at JMC Academy.

”I may not believe in myself, but I believe in what I'm doing.” Jimmy Page told Rolling Stones journalist Cameron Crowe in 1975. As long as I can remember, I have occasionally found myself in doubt, whether it’s concerning the clothes I am wearing or when I’m performing a song, I have managed to find ways of questioning myself. In secondary school my self-esteem was about as low as the pitch of the first octave, found all the way to the far left on the piano. In a few words I would like to share, my journey to where I am now and how that improved my self-esteem, raising it to something along the lines of the fourth octave, where actual melodies are played.

Growing up in a small town in Sweden, my first 18 years were considerably more comfortable but at same time uneventful than the following, though I never realized that at the time. I moved to the capital Stockholm for two years before heading off to Sydney, which is about 50 times larger than my hometown Norrköping. These two environmental changes required a great amount of courage and time to adapt and process the new and unfamiliar. Looking back, I know it meant a great deal of challenges, but I also know from my experiences how a challenge can lead to personal insights and knowledge, embracing every day with meaning, even making some unforgettable.

Sydney had been a dream destination of mine since I was little. Fond of city life and longing to get away from the cold climate in Sweden, it seemed to be the perfect combination. Living here, my experience of the city is like a huge bowl of candy, where I can try new pieces every day, learning about their taste and my preferences. That is a freedom I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Discovering a new place along with the inner self can be made in lots of different ways. I especially like the impeccable range of cafes, parks, beaches and cultural events offered, and that I can experience great live music any day of the week at one of the venues in town. But for good music, I usually I don't need to look further than next door from my practice room at JMC, where brilliant minds are writing, playing, recording and producing it every day.

JMC Academy is a place that breaths creativity and potential. All day I am finding myself surrounded by likeminded students, as dedicated and passionate about their art as they are friendly and caring about their fellow schoolmates. Together we are given the opportunity to explore and develop as individual artists, putting our knowledge and experiences into practice, achieving goals, setting new ones, and constantly expanding our world of creations. Everything set in a professional environment with industry standard equipment and supportive teachers, providing us with the tools we need. JMC has become a place where I can explore my potential and creativity, develop my skills and embrace new challenges and where my thoughts and feelings can be embodied through the art in which I express myself - music.

I have learnt that self-esteem is partly about knowing oneself, which can also be referred to as self-realisation. From realising thoughts and accepting the challenges that accompanies them, comes personal development and understanding. Not until I started asking myself who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do, did I realise the possibilities I had to explore who that is, and not until I started exploring could I perceive the impact of doing so. That way I started building an inner visionary strengthening my confidence and belief in both myself and what I am doing.

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2018 Music Performance Course Overview Video from JMC Academy on Vimeo.

This article has been edited for length and clarity.