Alexander Van Loh
Alex is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Austria
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I knew that I wanted to study abroad from the start; it's part of why I chose CSBSJU. German is my minor, so Austria was the clear choice. But I also chose it for its great central location in Europe, its incredibly beautiful landscape, and its connection to my heritage.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
I remember being surprised by how many people actually wear the traditional lederhosen and dirndls. At first it was crazy to see people walking around in their everyday lives with such garb, but eventually it became normal and comforting. It was the best during the city's week-long festival, Rupertikirtag, when nearly everyone was dressed up everyday and there was great food, carnival rides, and beer tent with live music.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
It was beautiful and surreal the entire time. I learned so much, made amazing friends, and absolutely fell in love with Salzburg.
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?
I've become more confident, more comfortable with change and uncertainty, more easygoing and more aware of cultures, including my own. Studying abroad gives you a chance to look at the world and your own culture through different eyes and allows you to shape ideas in a new way. You learn a lot in and out of the classroom and make some amazing, lasting friendships.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Be open. Be open to change, new ideas, and uncertainty. Be open to adapting and trying new things. Things don't always go as planned, but a last minute change may end up leading to one of your best memories. Be open to the ridiculous amount of fun you'll have. It truly is the time of your life. Also, pack lightly and have a good pair of walking shoes.