For Charlotte Schrader, music has always been an important part of her life.
The 17-year-old from Wauchope comes from a musical family, with five older brothers who have also pursued music in one form or another.
"I first started performing when I was around five or six. And ever since then I've been involved in musicals, concerts and busking," she said.
Charlotte has been busking in Port Macquarie since she was seven years old.
After recently finishing Year 11, Charlotte started looking online for gap year programs to pursue her music and acting interests.
That's when she found the Berridge Creative Semester Program in France.
"I immediately fell in love with the whole idea of the program," she said.
"It's set in Northern France and it's basically a program where young creative people come from all around the world to live in this community for around 10 weeks with professional artists and we work on creative projects and learn new skills in our creative fields as well as getting immersion experiences in France."
The unique opportunity is based in an 18th-century chateau in Normandy and offers a blend of expert-led excursions, cultural experiences, personal development workshops and hands-on classes in artistic disciplines including Filmmaking, Writing, Studio Art, Photography, Theatre and Music.
Charlotte applied for a scholarship to attend the 2022 Creative Semester Program and found out earlier this month that she was successful.
"I applied for a scholarship and I got one which is quite amazing. I'm the only Australian going on the trip and I'm pretty sure I'm the first Australian to be involved in this program."
During the 10-week program Charlotte will also be able to immerse herself in French culture while studying the arts.
"I did learn French at school and that's what grabbed my attention about this program in the first place.
"There's a week in Paris as well which will involve a lot of artistic experiences including going to galleries and landmarks while learning about the French lifestyle."
This experience is hoped to encourage songwriting inspiration for the 17-year-old.
"The program will include experiences across all of the arts. We will do a group filmmaking program and a story writing narrative program and then we can choose a discipline to focus on for the majority of the time," Charlotte said.
Travelling during a pandemic has also proven to be a difficult challenge, with Charlotte choosing to isolate for a week before she leaves Australia.
"My mum and I decided that it would be best for me to go into isolation seven days before leaving just to limit my contact with people and to ensure that I don't get Covid before I go.
"It's certainly a different experience travelling overseas during Covid times."
Charlotte entered her self-isolation on Monday and will fly out of Sydney on January 23.
"I will have a stop over in Singapore for a few hours and then straight to Paris. From Paris, the organisers will pick us up and drive us to Normandy."
While Charlotte isn't set on what career she wants to pursue, she is hoping this immersive program will lead her in the right direction.
"I want to see what happens when I'm in France and see what I'm inspired by and what I'm led to do. But music will definitely be a part of my future," she said.
"I'm looking forward to the opportunity to meet new people and learn about the ways in which people see the world. I hope to gain some understanding of different cultures and make new connections and hopefully learn some more skills in my craft."
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