Claudia is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Austria
Major: Global Business Leadership
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I have always enjoyed traveling and learning about new cultures so making the decision to study abroad an easy one. I decided on Austria because I wanted a program that not only worked with my Four Year Plan but also pushed me out of my comfort zone. I had never taken a German class before I arrived in Austria so I knew that I would be out of my element which is exactly what I wanted from study abroad.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
We took a trip to see Mauthausen, a concentration camp in Austria. It was the second to last concentration camp to be liberated from Nazi control and many people of all ethnicities died there. We hear about the horrors of World War II and Nazi rule in school but it is difficult to fully grasp what happened. Visiting the the site of such tragic events really threw things into perspective and though I will never understand how some humans could be so cruel, it also helped me learn about the strength of the human spirit. Though many people died, there were many who refused to give in and kept fighting, even after they had been take prisoner and it is these stories that I hold close and use for inspiration.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
I had never taken a German class before I went to Austria so at first I felt incredibly lost. This feeling of being lost quickly went away though as I learned more about the German language and the city that became my home. Austria is an amazing country and I learned so much about myself while I was there. I got to climb mountains and explore small towns and I made friends that will last me a lifetime. It's hard to express just how much the experience meant to me but the memories I made will stay 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?
I feel much more confident in my problem-solving and communication abilities. I know that no matter what the problem is, I can find a way to make it work for me. I also feel as though my world view has greatly expanded and I now have a better understanding of how the world works. Through this experience, I have realized that I want to do business on an international level and I hope to someday return to Europe (and hopefully Austria) for work.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
The best advice I can offer is to embrace ambiguity. It's ok to be unsure and not know exactly what you are doing. The best experiences are often unexpected and unplanned so don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and make a few impulsive decisions.