Joseph Schwamm '21

Program: Austria Fall Semester

Major: Economics

Minor: Psychology

Student Athlete: Swimming


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?

I decided on Austria because I had been there in high school and absolutely loved it. Being in the mountains reminded me of being home in Denver, Colorado. I had also heard nothing but positive things from previous groups, and thus I decided on it.

Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.

One of the strongest impressions that I had during my study abroad experience was climbing the Tappenkarsee Peak in the Alps. The entire group spent a night in an alpine mountain hut where we had classic Austrian Schnitzel and Kaisershmarrn. The next morning, we hiked alongside alpine cows and wild horses to reach the peak of the summit. I have never seen a more beautiful sight from the top of a mountain. It was beautifully green and blue in every direction- we were literally in the clouds. This hike was definitely one of the highlights of my experience.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

I absolutely loved my study abroad experience. Austria was an incredible country that is very culturally rich and diverse. In addition, it is located in Central Europe which made travel to the rest of Europe very affordable and easy. Our excursions in Austria were fantastic; from hiking the Tappenkarsee in the Alps, to Oktoberfest, to seeing the city of Vienna, every experience was beyond memorable. In addition to the country itself, I was able to create friendships with CSB/SJU students that I otherwise wouldn't have had the opportunity to. In all, it was a phenomenal semester.

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?

Spending a semester abroad has so many benefits that they cannot be entirely listed in one section. If I had to pick the most important three, I would say that it provides: 1. It provides a strong sense of self. Spending four months abroad really helps you understand who you are. Being removed from a familiar environment, one is more easily able to figure out what they like, what they want, and who they are.

2. It helps develop strong communication skills. Being in a foreign country means that you will have to interact constantly with unfamiliar people. To do so, you have to be adept at communicating. Over the course of the semester, I was able to further develop my communication skills to a point where I can utilize them both in my personal life and in my professional life- in a job interview for example.

3. You learn how to cook. Trust me, you'll become an expert chef by the time the four months passes.

What advice can you offer for CSB+SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?

My advice to CSB+SJU students would be to simply go for it. If you are unsure of whether or not to participate in the experience, take the leap. It is the experience of a lifetime, you will create lifelong friendships, and you will see the world-both here in Minnesota and abroad- in a whole different light.