Alexander is an ambassador who studied abroad in Austria
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad because I wanted to expand my educational experience beyond the classroom. I have always loved learning but I desired an experience that was more immersive.
I chose Austria because I had a German background in and hoped that it would help me become more proficient in my German. Another huge factor in choosing Austria was in geography; Salzburg is located on the northern edge of the Alps. It's not only a prime location for hiking but is also centrally located in Europe allowing for easy travel to almost all European countries. Also who could resist the chance to travel to the land of Lederhosen and Dirndls?
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One thing Salzburg is Globally known for is it's Christmas Markets. These markets opened all Advent and "were like a Christmas state fair". The whole city is decorated and people come from all over Europe and the world to experience Christmas in this little city. It's super awesome to live just a couple blocks from such a huge tradition.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
The entire trip from leaving home on the first day, to leaving Europe on the last, is the most incredible experience I have ever gone through. I began my trip pre-traveling throughout Ireland and Switzerland with a couple of other people from my program. I was then united with my fellow peers in Rome where we spent two incredible months learning about the Italian culture, as well exploring different parts of the country. During our week break I traveled to Paros and Santorini, two Greek islands. Our program then continued in Athens where we studied Greek history and culture, as well as embarked on more group excursions throughout the country. I ended my trip by post traveling in Spain and Germany. Overall, words alone cannot even begin to describe how amazing the experience was. Being able to travel to multiple different locations was such a positive experience, one that I will hold with me for the rest of my life.
Based on your experiences abroad, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?
For me, I found that study abroad developed my independence and increased my ability to deal with the unknown. It also widened my world view by providing me classes that began from a perspective that was not American.
My Austria experience also increased my grasp of German, allowing me to develop an German oral confidence. I was also able to take classes outside of my major simply because they interested me.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Don't be afraid, no matter where you go studying abroad will be one of the best experiences of your life.
Don't stress out too much, but do a little research because you'll never know enough but it's always best to know a little.
Don't be afraid to talk to the natives(even if they speak a different language), they know the place and probably know where the most awesome and cheapest things are
If you can make it happen, go. You won't regret it and it'll probably change your life.