Sarah is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Austria
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I felt like the Austria program wasn't as well known as other programs and I was really intrigued by the nature and outdoors aspect of the program. I didn't know much about the country and was really interested in exploring a place brand new to me.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
A cultural experience that had a large impact on me was attending Rupertiktag which is the Salzburg fall festival. I got to wear my traditional dirndl and learn about the history of the event which is deeply imbedded in the religious culture. We also got to eat traditional food and drink. It was one of the first experiences of the semester where I felt like I was truly experiencing a large part of their culture
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Overall, this experience was life changing. I learned so much about myself and found passions I didn't know I had. It really forced me to step out of my comfort zone because of the adjustment to the language barrier, getting to know a new city, and gaining independence. I felt like I grew so much and have such a larger world view. This past semester simply fueled my passion to travel more and learn as much about the world as possible.
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?
Benefits would definitely be becoming a more confident traveler and person. I learned to be much more self sufficient on this trip. I also gained such a larger appreciation for different cultures all around the world. Salzburg is not just Austrian culture but also pulls from many other places. I learned so much more about the refugee crisis and people from all around the globe, not just Austria. I've noticed since I've been home that I am much more open to new experiences and putting myself in potentially uncomfortable situations because I know self growth can be a great thing. I feel that I have a greater appreciation for my education and opportunities given to me, I really try to engage in conversation more than before because I truly want to learn as much about people other than myself as much as possible.
What advice can you offer for CSB|SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
-Do It. I would make it clear that anyone can travel around Europe for two weeks, but to immerse yourself in a new culture and to find a home half way around the world is an opportunity that is rare and to seize it if the opportunity arises.
-I had so many little experiences on this adventure that I think will help people. From helping with the language barrier to choosing where else to travel and how to budget money. Salzburg especially is very possible to live low cost in.
-Get outside! Austria is the most beautiful place on earth and you don't need to go more than a few blocks in a direction to find a place completely new to you. Being an adventurer is one the best parts of this experience!