Jenna is an ambassador who studied abroad in Austria
Major: Political Science and Peace Studies
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I have always had a love for travel and experiencing new cultures, so studying abroad is an experience I always knew I wanted to have. I chose the Austria program because it was the program that fit best into my 4-year academic plan. Choosing a program with a language requirement was also important to me. There is no better way to learn a language than to live in a place where it is the native tongue. Knowing I would have one year of German under my belt by the time I left, Austria was the clear choice. In addition to my academic reasons for choosing Austria, I was drawn to the program because of Salzburg's picturesque landscape, small-town feel, and rich history.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
There is an annual multi-day festival in Salzburg called St. Rupertikirtag. St. Rupert is the founder of the city, and every year there is a huge festival held to honor the patron saint. The festival consists of food vendors, carnival rides and games, folk dancing, and much more. And of course, everyone is dressed in the traditional dirndls and lederhosen. During the festival it was wonderful to see the immense amount of pride the Austrians have in their traditions. This celebration exemplified the definition of community.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Phenomenal! I saw and did more than I ever thought I could in a semester. It was absolutely surreal to see with my own eyes some of the places I have dreamt about for so long. I fell in love with Salzburg, and feel so lucky to be able to call the city my second home. My semester abroad was truly the best 5 months 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?
Personally, I learned a great deal of what I am capable of. Having never having spent an extended period of time away from home, studying abroad was exactly the push I needed to become comfortable with being on my own. Every day I was forced to take a step out of my comfort zone. Whether it was a big or small step, I was constantly challenged.
Academically, I was able to learn by a whole new learning style, which was highly beneficial to me. I am a visual learner, and all my life I've struggled with the fact that I cannot see what I learn in the classroom while I am learning. Studying abroad gave me the opportunity to do just that. Being able to stand in front of a piece of architecture while listening to my professor speak about it made me appreciate it so much more.
Professionally, I gained a clearer picture of my future career goals. I've known since my first year at CSB/SJU that I want to work in the field of international relations, and living abroad for 5 months confirmed that.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Put all of your hesitations aside and do it! Spending a few months so far away from home is intimidating, but you certainly will not regret it. The experiences are indescribable and friendships lasting. Keep an open mind and embrace spontaneity. Some of the best memories result from those spur-of-the-moment decisions. Also, when making travel plans for weekends and breaks, take the opportunity to discover the places less traveled. There is so much more to explore than just the typical touristy cities and attractions.