1. Why did you decide to study abroad?
As a history major, I felt that studying abroad would offer a great opportunity to immerse myself in a culture that interested me, and would broaden my understanding of the world as well as enhance my understanding of European history. I am particularly interested in Germany's role in European history from the late 19th century to present. Salzburg is a beautiful city, located in the Alps near Germany's southern border, and is centrally located in Europe allowing for endless possibilities to travel.
2. If you could tell someone one reason why they should go, what would you say?
The biggest reason I think students should go abroad is because odds are you may never have an opportunity to do so again, so take the chance while you can. Including Austria, I traveled to nine countries during my four months abroad, and it was truly the trip of a lifetime.
3. What was the most memorable experience you had while studying abroad?
I had so many memorable experiences while studying abroad, it's difficult to choose just one. One experience that I will never forget is certainly attending Easter Mass at the Vatican. It had always been something I had seen on television, and is an experience that few will ever have in their lifetime. My most memorable experience in Salzburg has to be hiking the peaks of the Untersberg mountain. The Untersberg is split between Salzburg and Bavaria, Germany, and the top is one of the highest points of the Alps in Austrian territory. Sitting atop that mountain, you can see Hitler's Eagle's Nest, the Austrian lake district, Königssee and Berchtesgaden, Germany. You can also see the city of Salzburg -- the Salzach River and Hohensalzburg Fortress which overlooks the city. It is an unbelievable view, and the silence on the snow-covered peaks is overwhelming. It is a truly humbling experience, and is one of my favorite memories.
4. What was the biggest obstacle you had to face while studying abroad?
The language barrier was probably the biggest obstacle that I faced, but it wasn't a tremendous issue at all. The locals spoke English fairly well, and as long as you made an effort to speak German, they were very helpful. AIFS included a two-week intensive German language course, which made the transition much easier. My German isn't great by any means, having studied Spanish since the first grade, but by the end of my time in Salzburg I was able to get by fairly well!
5. What was your first week like abroad?
My first week abroad was exciting; AIFS had a lot planned for us, so we were always busy. We arrived in Salzburg after a three-day stopover in London, which was great. During the first week we spent our time getting acquainted with Salzburg, and our cultural director set up some different tours for us. We spent a whole day hiking around the city; he showed us Mirabell Gardens, where several scenes were filmed for The Sound of Music, and took us up to Hohensalzburg Fortress. Our intensive German class began during the first week as well. One of my best memories of my first week in Salzburg is that of our sleigh ride through the Alps. We rode on horse-drawn carriages to an alpine hut, and were served Goulasch for lunch. Then we were introduced to Kaiserschmarrn, basically a big, fluffy pancake cut up into small pieces, with strawberries, applesauce, and different jams. Little did I know it would become one of my favorite Austrian desserts!
6. Would you recommend this program to others? Why or why not?
I would most definitely recommend this program to others; as I said, AIFS had a lot to offer, and the staff in Salzburg was extremely helpful. Not only did I get to meet and form friendships with people from all over the United States, but I met and spent time with some local Austrians as well. I played soccer with a local team, and ran a half-marathon while there. There is so much available to students, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
7. Express two or three things that help us to understand how you felt living in the city of Salzburg.
I felt extremely safe living in Salzburg. It was always nice to come back from traveling, especially from traveling to larger cities, and to know I was coming back to a safe place. It didn't take very long for Salzburg to feel like home; after a long weekend, my friends and I would always look forward to going back "home," to Salzburg. Salzburg is a quiet, conservative city, nestled just below the Alps, and I couldn't have asked for a better place to call home for four months.