Sarah Kosar (London - Theater Studies | Spring 2009) loved her experience abroad so much that she went on receive her masters at the Royal Center School of Speech and Drama in London. Now, Sarah is working as a Senior Talent Manager at ROLI, a music-tech startup, and spend her nights and weekends writing plays and producing/hosting the iTunes New and Noteworthy podcast, Kin.
IES Abroad: When did you decide you wanted to go back?
Sarah Kosar (SK): When I reached London in January 2009, it only took me until April 2009 to make the decision that I would do whatever I needed to in order to make my life in London as a writer and creative professional. I fell in love with the pace of life, as well as the theatre culture. Unlike the States, there is a healthily overflowing pot of new plays and performances every day of the week. I felt, and still feel, that there is a little niche for my style and plenty of ways to get inspired from other artists!
IES Abroad: What is it like living in London? How did it feel to go back?
SK: Coming back to London was like letting out a breath you've been holding for a bit too long when your face starts to go all red. I felt relieved, excited, and unstoppable. If I could be in the place that I felt that I belonged in, I could do the things that were truly me without any hesitation. I absolutely love writing plays and channeling my experiences, questions, and struggles into hyperreal work, and I don't think I'd be as good at it anywhere else. Alongside writing, I'm very lucky to have the ability to work full-time growing companies with the right people as a Senior Talent Manager in the start-up sector. As writing is solitary and a slow-burner, it's great to channel my interest in making stuff happen in a fast-paced environment during my days.
IES Abroad: How did study abroad influence your desire to go back? How did IES Abroad help you in your decision to go back abroad? Anyone who influenced you in particular?
SK: IES Abroad London was integral in my decision to stay. IES Abroad London Theatre Studies introduced me to the theatres, people, and practices that made me who I am. I still look back on my first moments in particular theatres when I was studying where I've now had my work performed.
IES Abroad: How did you make it happen? Tell us about the process.
SK: If I ever write a memoir, my visa struggles will be the bulk of it. It may go something like this "Sarah was born in Butler, Pennsylvania. She studied abroad during her undergraduate studies and got a Student Visa. Then she got a Masters Student Visa and came back to London. She graduated and got a Post-Study Visa. Then she started specializing in start-up recruitment and culture and got sponsored by a company. Then she got an Exceptional Promise in Playwriting visa..." And hopefully it will end with me becoming a British Citizen one day. To be continued...
IES Abroad: In your opinion, why do you think it’s important to try and live and work abroad?
SK: To quote an artist and activist I really admire, iO Tillett Wright said, "Familiarity is the gateway drug to empathy." By studying abroad, meeting new people, having new experiences in new environments, you learn that we are all more familiar and alike than different. For me, I think it was single handedly the most important part of my undergraduate education. It took me out of my comfort zone and ultimately gave me the ability to learn who I was, what I wanted, and what I believed in very quickly.
IES Abroad: What advice would you give to study abroad students who want to work or study abroad? Are there any challenges to consider? Are there tools or resources students should be aware of?
SK: I won't lie, it's an incredibly hard process to stay in London with a lot of visa applications, hurdles, and hopes involved, but more than anything, it's important to take advantage of your time and learn as much as you can. I always believe that you're not growing unless you're uncomfortable. So take chances, try new things, and when you feel worried or uncomfortable, that's probably a good sign that you're learning and living. Try to not think too far ahead while you're studying abroad, and be aware that a lot of your ideas and wants will change throughout, but you'll find yourself and the answers when you need to.
IES Abroad: Best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
SK: Keep going. It's not a race!