If there’s one thing the pandemic has plagued us with (aside from the obvious) it’s a nagging restlessness. Being forced to stop makes you question every damn thing in your life. Do I even like my career? Should I just pack up and move? Can I actually pull off a fringe?
A change of scenery sounds really good right about now, though – especially if you’ve been cooped up in Melbs or Syd. But you don’t wanna just skip town willy nilly. Before you boot-scoot, it’s important to think about how you’ll equip yourself so you can actually hack it somewhere new. One of the best ways to start afresh is by heading to uni so you know you have a built-in community and base to stabilise you in your new place. Uh yes, puh-lease.
Karai Hemara is a musician who has done just that, making the move to go to uni in Tassie. The singer, songwriter and guitarist moved from Melbourne to Hobart and is in his second year of studying a Bachelor of Music at the University of Tasmania. Karai had a chinwag with PEDESTRIAN.TV to give us the scoop on what it’s actually like.
A week at uni in Tassie
Each day, Karai wakes up around 8am and walks a chill 15 minutes to campus. (Consider us jealous already. It’s a swish new building with primo recording, rehearsal and performance spaces.)
Usually his week starts with music theory and consists of heading to lectures and sifting through online reading material. The week ends on a high note with a songwriter workshop – Karai’s favourite. “We get to hear what people have been working on, share ideas and give feedback,” he says.
On the weekends, it’s all about getting out and about in Hobart. “[I] go for walks, eat delicious food, check out gigs and meet up with friends for drinks,” says Karai.
His top gig reccos? Pablo’s Cocktails and Dreams for Jazz, Blues, Soul and African American-centric styles on Thursday nights. And add Grand Poobah and The Hobart Brewing Company to your list for Fridays.
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The perks of the program
“My songwriting skills have certainly progressed,” Karai says of the program. “The fact that I can write and finish songs now and be happy and proud enough to perform them in front of people is proof in the pudding.”
Not only have Karai’s skills gone up a notch, but he’s been able to tour the state, as well. After winning the Ossa Music Prize for excellence in performance and musicianship, he scored some plush prize money and the opportunity to tour. “This year as part of the tour, I had the pleasure to also visit schools and conduct songwriting workshops around the state,” he says.
Taking the Plunge
We could daydream all day about packin’ up and moving, but how did Karai actually make the decision? Well, there were a few factors at play.
“A granny flat at my mum and stepfather’s property had just become vacant,” says Karai. “Plus, I had met with the Coordinator of Contemporary Voice in the Music program – who’s an old family friend – and she told me about the Songwriter major and the new campus at the Hedberg, which I remember reading as a sign to make the move.”
If you’re looking for your own sign, THIS IS IT. There are also new student apartments and financial support options for relocating if you don’t have the same links down south.
Don’t let your age stop you either! You don’t have to be a fresh-faced 18-year-old going into first year. Karai is a more mature-age student who is living proof that you can follow your ~wanderlust~ to Tassie at any age. Karai just made sure to manage his expectations.
“I knew that it’d be a fresh start and it’d take me a while to fit in, which has always been the case in the past,” says Karai. He went to as many jams and gigs as possible, praising the Hobart music scene for being so supportive.
And for anyone considering heading to uni in Tassie? Karai says Hobart is the perfect size.
“I would definitely recommend Hobart as it kind of has the best of both worlds, just enough going on arts and culture-wise but also feels like a big country town with lots of beautiful places to walk and escape to nearby.”