Stephanie 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 gain independence, experience a new culture, and travel. I decided to go on the Salzburg, Austria program because it was centrally located, which would allow me to travel. I also chose it because I liked the smaller city mixed with the incredible nature (mountains, rivers, etc.). Austria has the best of everything!
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One specific cultural experience that I will always remember will be the time that we danced with a local dance group on one casual Friday evening at Augustinerbräu, a beer hall in Salzburg. We happened upon a group of around 70 people all dressed in tracht (traditional dress) dancing and shouting along with the band inside one of the main rooms. A group of us were just observing from the door and before we knew it they invited us in. They were kind and patient with teaching us the steps and helping us fit in with them…as much as we could fit in with our jeans and Nike tennis shoes. We danced the night away and felt like locals. They even invited us to join them again the next week! We got the contact information and hope that future groups from CSBSJU will stay in contact with this group and experience a fun part of the Austrian culture.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My overall study abroad experience was incredible. I gained self confidence in traveling, navigating, and problem solving. I got to try new things and see many amazing cultures. I got to experience a once in a lifetime adventure that I will never be able to recreate. It was an experience that I have not fully been able to express in words to people that don’t know what it’s like to be lucky enough to live in a different country for four months. It’s an amazing opportunity that CSBSJU offers. I fell in love with Austria and definitely caught the travel bug. I hope to go back soon!
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?
The benefits of spending a semester abroad is the chance for self-growth and broadened horizons. All of the members of my group felt they had changed for the positive while abroad, and all in different ways. Studying abroad allows you to see the world first-hand and experience learning things without as many textbooks. It has contributed to my personal development in ways I have already stated. In terms of academics, I feel that I have developed a love of learning things through the world around me. Classroom learning is important but so is first-hand experience. Professionally, I hope to work abroad at some point in my career now, and I found a place that will allow me to do this!
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Go, if it is possible for you to spend a semester abroad, GO!! It is the best decision I ever made. I learned a new language, I made incredible friends that I shared priceless moments with, I traveled Europe, I discovered new passions in my life, and I am already checking ticket prices to go back to Austria soon. The decision to study abroad can be stressful with the financial aspect, the lengthy application process, and the fear of the unknown. However, it is a decision that few people regret. Take a chance, I promise it will pay off.