Abbey Estep '21
Program: Austria Fall Semester
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad because I wanted an "all-inclusive" experience. I wanted to experience other parts of the world both through excursions, and through the classroom setting. I knew that studying abroad would help me to discover who I was as a person, as well as to develop my international footprint both personally and professionally. I chose to study abroad in this program because I was a German minor and wanted to develop my German speaking skills and be able to test them in an area where "Austrian" German was the primary language. This helped me to step outside of my comfort zone.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
The cultural experience that had the biggest impact on me was our group excursion hike in the Austrian alps. Our group got to experience classic alp "hut" culture. Together, we all stayed in a hut where there was no cell phone service as it was a five-hour hike through the alps. We stayed there for two nights and took day hikes around to explore the area. It was at that place that I found my love for the cultural "athletic and outdoor" status that many Austrians have. Since it was early in our program, I also got to know the group really well, and established connections that would last for the semester. This was a wholesome experience.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Study abroad was truly something that changed my life, and that is hard to describe in such a small amount of space. I had never left the United States, so because of this experience, I was able to look at the US from an outside point of view, and see how other countries viewed us. I also got to experience a true Austrian class room, and greatly expand my German skills in the process. History was presented to me in many different forms including art, cultural buildings, outdoor areas, museums, and many other areas. I also developed life-long connections with my peers who I know will always be there when I need them. I spread my professional knowledge by learning more about accounting in Germany, and also dipped into my hobby of interior decorating by observing classic coffee houses in Salzburg. This experience opened my eyes to many different cultural aspects, and helped me develop into the person I was meant to be today.
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?
One of the main benefits you get while spending a semester abroad is a better understanding of the world. I was able to see many different cultures even though these countries were so close together. Because of this, I was able to recognize what makes other cultures so special, unique, and important in their own way. I was also able to understand my own culture better, as well as what made me feel like I was a part of it. Over the semester, I found new hobbies and academic interests that influenced my opinions and even studies back in the United States. I was able to capitalize on my talents, and recognize what is the most important and crucial parts of personal, academic, and professional development. I would say both personally and professionally, I am much more confident in myself and my capabilities. Academically, it is helpful to apply learning skills I learned from Austrian teachers to the classes I have at CSB+SJU. Going abroad for a semester made me a better well-rounded individual in general.
What advice can you offer for CSB+SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
My advice is to take every challenge and face it head on. It seems scary, and it definitely is, going to another country and assimilating to a completely different culture, especially one where they don't speak your native language. But, allowing yourself to face those challenges and have others help you overcome them, will lead to being one of the most rewarding experiences in life. I also offer the advice to enjoy your experience. While it is an academic based program, it is okay once and awhile to spend a little less time on your assignment so you can experience something special in the cultural area you are living in, especially if this event is a one-time thing. It is important that you do study, but also incorporate excursions and experiences into that study as well so you are able to get the most out of your experience.