A Semester Abroad – in L.A.
By Ashley Eady
Veera Vallinkoski: Here I am in front the Hollywood sign. It was my last day as a tourist before the start of school. (Swipe for more of my photos!)
In front of a Marshall stack at the NAMM show. A wall of Marshalls - what’s there not to love?
A required visit to The Doors' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
A visit with Snuffy Walden, left, composer for “Nashville” and “West Wing” and many other shows. On the right was the keyboard technician for the show.
One massive console!
Observing a scoring session.
On the Santa Monica pier. My t-shirt is from one of the most famous clubs in Finland, Möysä.
The famous Santa Monica boardwalk.
Snowboarding in Snow Valley with international students from the Marshall School of Business.
I went to Las Vegas, Death Valley, the Hoover Dam, and a few other national parks over Spring Break. In Las Vegas, we ended up on the plus side with $4. The house doesn’t always win!
In Joshua Tree with other USC international exchange students.
Death Valley was one the coolest things I saw. We met a coyote!
A shot from Hoover Dam - the grave of a construction worker's dog. I was familiar with many sights from the movies, but it was amazing to see them in person.
I love the desert! There's nothing like it in Finland.
Making new friends!
As the Sibelius Academy of Finland prepared to send Music Production student Veera Vallinkoski to pioneer a new exchange program with the USC Thornton School of Music, it had one simple request: “Make sure she comes back.”
In January, USC Thornton welcomed Vallinkoski for the Spring semester while Curtis Green, a junior in Composition at Thornton, traveled to Helsinski as part of a new partnership between the two institutions. The first of many collaborations to follow, the exchange program is part of a new campaign promoting study opportunities around the globe for USC Thornton students.
For Vallinkoski, coming to the U.S. was a childhood dream. “L.A. was always my first choice,” she said.
While here, she has fully immersed herself in all that USC and Los Angeles have to offer. In addition to taking a full load of courses in the Division of Contemporary Music, Vallinkoski has sat in on recording sessions at studios around the city and has even found time for sightseeing.
“The workload here is sometimes a bit intense, but I’ve really enjoyed it,” she said.
Vallinkoski took classes in music production and songwriting and took lessons in bass guitar. A highlight was professor Rick Schmunk’s Non-linear MIDI Sequencing class. “Professor Schmunk’s teaching is so good,” she said. “He’s just so concise, and he has every lesson planned so well. I love it!”
Another thing Vallinkoski appreciated about her time at Thornton was the emphasis on collaboration. “In our culture, we don’t push people to work together as much,” she said. “Here, you actually do a lot of group work. A professor might say, ‘Hey, you’re a bassist, and here’s a songwriter. Please collaborate.’”
In addition to her studies in Finland, Vallinkoski works as an audio engineer, plays bass in several bands, and runs her own production company—a business she started when she was 18 years old. At USC, she kept just as busy.
“Sometimes, it is quite hard to balance, to be frank,” she said. “I find that it helps if you make appointments with people. If you say to your friend, ‘I’m going to come tomorrow, and let’s work on a song,’ you feel responsible to the other person. Making yourself accountable is the best thing.”
What will she miss most about Los Angeles when she returns to Finland? She said she will miss the structure of American universities and the diversity of Los Angeles.
“I didn’t have any idea how diverse this city is, and that makes you feel like you belong here,” she said with a smile. “No matter where you come from, you feel that there’s a place for you in Los Angeles.”
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