An amazing semester of new experiences June 05, 2017

By (Truman State University) - abroad from 01/15/2017 to 04/28/2017 with

Truman State University / CCIS: Salzburg - Study Abroad at Salzburg College

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot about the culture and history of Austria and Europe, which opened up my world perspective. Being on my own in a foreign country with a foreign language, I learned a lot about myself I was unaware of previously. It helped me build confidence and create my own opinions. It is hard to explain what I gained from studying abroad, but it was 100% worthwhile. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Review Photos

Truman State University / CCIS: Salzburg - Study Abroad at Salzburg College Photo Truman State University / CCIS: Salzburg - Study Abroad at Salzburg College Photo Truman State University / CCIS: Salzburg - Study Abroad at Salzburg College Photo Truman State University / CCIS: Salzburg - Study Abroad at Salzburg College Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Salzburg College has two required classes: Understanding Austria and a German language class (placed based on your German ability). Both of these classes are geared to helping you know and understand Austria, which is a really unique part of the program. All of the classes are integrated learning-based: for example, we toured a concentration camp and Hitler's Berghof for the Art of Propaganda after learning about the propaganda of the Third Reich. The integrated-learning was amazing: it is not every school that you get to learn something and then experience it yourself, especially in a country with such a long history. Participation was a large portion of all the classes, which emphasized individual learning and understanding. The classes were not too difficult but still advanced your knowledge of the subject. All readings were posted online through Dropbox and were easily accessible; the only hard book I had to purchase was for Beginning German and it was inexpensive. Overall, I enjoyed the academic rigor and feel like I truly learned and gained from the classes.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration of Salzburg College is very friendly and certainly willing to do anything to help their students. They addressed us all by name and made a point to communicate with us as a group each week through a General Assembly. They gave us recommendations for travel, safety, food, healthcare, etc..

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My living arrangements were perfect! Salzburg College offers the option of living with a host family (with or without children) or living in student dorms. I lived with a host family consisting of two parents and two young girls. Living with them was really fun- we played games a lot, we went swimming together, we would talk over dinner- and also very helpful on providing me an insight on daily Austrian life. I will never forget my time spent with them and would highly recommend a host family to anyone studying abroad! I took a public bus to the college (about a 15 minute ride), which operated very smoothly.

* Food:

For lunch, all Salzburg College students ate at a seminary/hotel down the street from the college. The food was prepared by a chef and consisted usually of a meat, a vegetable or two, a side, soup, salad, and a dessert. Sometimes the food got repetitive, but it was still delicious and very convenient. Breakfast and dinner were provided by my host family and were also very good- I never went hungry!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I feel like this was the biggest downfall of Salzburg College. Salzburg College students are all American, and for my semester, there were only 10 of us. This made it more difficult to meet other college students, especially because the semester ran differently from the Austrian semester (which I understand is helpful for American students trying to keep a regular school schedule). The college did promote events, but there were very few and often they were inconvenient to attend. I wish I had met more local college students. However, my host family helped a lot with making me feel integrated and the administration strived to keep us up-to-date on local and national events. I participated in several events in Salzburg, for example, for Easter I decorated a palm bush, which made me feel more involved in the culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I personally did not have any issues with my health while abroad, but I know a few students from my program that did. The college administration offered to set up appointments for them at local doctor offices and helped them figure out what they needed from the pharmacy. The administration was very caring. There were no prevalent health issues in Austria and no specific vaccines were required.

* Safety:

Like all cities, you need to have some common sense, but I never felt unsafe in Salzburg. Not once. Traveling outside of Salzburg is really when safety was important: you need watch your personal belongs at all times, keep your passport secure, don't walk around alone at night in a strange place. I always looked up the news for an area before I travelled to make sure nothing was happening and registered all of my trips with the Smart Traveler program.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

This program was a good fit for me. I had never really traveled before and Salzburg College taught me some travel basics and helped me build confidence in myself. Salzburg was just the right size city: big enough to have things to do but small enough I felt comfortable and at home. I really wanted a program where I could have fun and learn, and that is something this program strongly accomplishes.

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

While in Salzburg, my only expenses were transportation (month bus pass at 52 euros) and if I went out shopping or to a café. Almost all my meals were covered. I spent most of my money traveling on weekends and on our independent travel period. Austria is not the cheapest country to live in, but it certainly is not the most expensive, either.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? not including travel: 20-30 euros
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? 1) KNOW WHAT YOU SPEND! I used the app "TrabeePocket" to log my purchases and it is the best thing I could have done. It helped me keep track of monitoring my expenses each week and even converted currencies over to USD to give me a better understanding. Set a budget and try to stick to it from the start! 2) Get the OBB discount card: you get 1/2 off every second ticket. Train travel is really easy from Salzburg, and it certainly pays off. 3) Salzburg College gave us a student ID card that gave me more discounts than any other card I had (including the ISIC). Some places I even got entrance for free for being an "EU student"! 4) Research the countries you are looking at going to before you travel. The average meal in Denmark is $20-25, so if you are looking for a more low-budget trip, look somewhere else! Its better to know before you go. 5) I bought a pre-paid sim card for my phone that came with calling and data for 15 euros, and then re-loaded it with 10 euros a month. Its very cheap and effective, but only worked in Austria, so if your phone company does offer an international plan, it may be worthwhile. You could also use the prepaid sim in Austria and then your US-based international plan while traveling to save data. 6) If several people are traveling together, look at splitting the cost of an AirBNB instead of a hostel: it may be cheaper and you'll have more space!

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

Of course, every student took a German language class and we were highly encouraged to use German whenever we could. You could even do your projects for other classes in German if you so desired! The administration often held conversations in German with the more proficient students, to give them practice a well.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? No German at all
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Just go for it! It's always worth trying to speak in the local langauge, even if you are unsure. It's okay to mess up! Try to use the local langauge in restarauts or while shopping for good practice. Also, playing games is a good fun way to learn a langauge, such as playing Uno for numbers and colors.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • integrated learning
  • living with a host family
  • time for travel
* What could be improved?
  • more integration with locals
  • more participants
  • longer program
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew better on what to pack (all first-time study abroad students over pack!). I was aware that the Salzburg College semester ran differently than the Austrian semester, but I wish I knew the impact that would have on meeting people. In addition, there were only 10 participants my semester, and it would have been nice to know the group would be that small. Overall, though, I felt Salzburg College provided me with ample information about the program before I left the States.