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Bizianes Siblings Share Their KIIS Stories – Katherine in Salzburg

An Interview with Katherine Bizianes

How did studying abroad with KIIS become a family affair with both siblings studying abroad on KIIS programs?
My mother had always talked about college as the best time to go abroad, as her friend in college did a year in France. After my brother Alex took the opportunity to study abroad on the KIIS Greece program, it solidified my decision to somehow work that into my college experience. The summer before my final semester was the perfect time for me to go. It worked out for the best program for me, as well as all the funds and support that came together to make it happen. I felt mature enough to handle five weeks in a foreign country, and I loved the experience with everyone in the program. Initially, I had no idea where I wanted to go, but after looking through the KIIS programs, I settled on the KIIS Salzburg music program and loved it!

What prompted you to select the KIIS Salzburg program?
I knew I wanted to study abroad, but I didn’t really know where, so I looked through all the programs available. Once I found the music-centered program of KIIS Salzburg, I thought the classes and place were the perfect option for me. I loved the music course I took and all the places I was able to see, including Mozart’s birthplace and Beethoven’s grave (in Vienna). The pace and size of the program ended up being perfect for me. We didn’t travel extensively in the 4 1/2 weeks that I was there, and as a result, I really got to know the city of Salzburg and the people I was there with, as well as some different scenery.

What were 1 or 2 memorable experiences for you on your KIIS Salzburg program?
I loved going up on Untersberg mountain in the Austrian alps. The funicular to get to the top was a little scary, and there was meant to be about a 15-minute hike to the peak. However, there was some unforeseen snow on the trail, and that 15-minute hike turned into an hour and a half of struggling through snow. Having to work a little harder to get to the glorious beauty of the peak made it all the more worth it. And a childhood dream of mine came true: playing in the snow comfortably in just a t-shirt!

Another great memory was performing as a group in the Dom cathedral in Salzburg. The acoustics were amazing, as well as the culmination of all our rehearsals leading up to the performance. Not only was the performance fun, but we were able to feel the gravitas of all the great musicians who had performed there before us, including Mozart of course. I was able to find some peace and rejuvenation on my study abroad experience. I was able to see the city through its history, which is my favorite way to get to know a city. Having that time to learn and explore something new helped me through some difficult personal times in my life, as well as the most difficult semester of my college experience weeks before I left.

How did your experiences abroad impact your academic/career choices after you returned?
I think the aura and feeling I brought back from studying abroad was what impacted me most. I didn’t change any career or academic goals or choices, but I did open myself up to new experiences at home. My final semester I had two class cancelations, and that led me to fill it with a class I hadn’t anticipated ever taking. I took Introduction to Linguistics, just for fun and the credit, which ended up being a major part of the work I have taken on helping kids better their reading skills with Langsford Accelerated Learning Center. The historical musical knowledge that I gained from in Austria also helped me convey to my private music students more first-hand knowledge about musical time periods, and I can share my own experience.

What is your current job / profession?
Currently I have two jobs. I have been teaching violin for about five years with Bizianes Music Mart where my brother Alex,(KIIS Greece alum) also teaches private lessons. I also help kids with their reading skills at Langsford Accelerated Learning Center. Our family music business started over 50 years ago by our grandparents, Larry and Judy Bizianes, who met through music as well. Our grandmother took accordion lessons from our grandfather, before falling in love and starting a family as well as a music business. They had four children, who were all involved in the business in some way, and now their two eldest, and my brother and I are the teachers at Bizianes. We all have a hand in recording at times, as well as teaching all manner of instruments. Above all, our moto is Musicians making Musicians. It doesn’t matter what instrument you wish to learn, with us you will learn how to read music and take part in the artistic expression of the art form, as well as learn how to communicate with other musicians.

What are your hobbies/interests/volunteer activities?
I love crafting, baking, and spending time with my family! I am an avid reader of all manner of genres, am a lifetime girl scout, and love to hike almost every day. I spend time playing my instrument for pleasure, and volunteer in my church community, Hikes Point Christian Church.

What advice do you have for other students considering studying abroad?
My advice for studying abroad is to trust that it will all come together. You must be persistent and take each step at a time. Give yourself more time to get the little details finished and apply to every financial aid opportunity you can find. The key to preparing for study abroad is to be on top of the process and to get creative with how you spend your time and money. Once all the funds are in order, and you have planned and packed, the trip is the best/easiest part!

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Katherine Bizianes

KIIS Salzburg
Comparative Humanities
University of Louisville

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