Grüß Gott! For the last 10 months I had the opportunity to live and study in Graz, Austria. While there I operated with an independence I never knew possible and learned more than I could have ever hoped. From having the chance to learn from my Bosnian, Austrian and Ukrainian roommates to professors from Jordan, Singapore and Germany I will be forever grateful for the knowledge and life experiences they passed on.
While much of my time centered around forming relationships, I was able to participate in several seminar classes. Many of my classes centered around the increasing rates of globalization and the needed response to the phenomenon. In these classes, I had the opportunity to meet and discuss potential upsides and downsides with individuals from around the globe as well as discuss the need for improved international communication. These discussions aided in my widening world view and allowed a platform for new perspectives. Another beneficial class I took was a German language course. Through this course I was instantly connected with other people who were new to the culture and environment which was helpful in forming connections.
Both these classes and being able to immerse myself in Austrian culture helped me form a deeper understanding of my global theme of ‘culture and politics’. Prior to going to Austria, I had a peripheral understanding of their systems however, soon after moving there I was participating in the public healthcare system and local government which provided a point of comparison to the systems I have grown up with and was allowed to understand more of the cultural nuances.
In addition to traveling around Austria, I was able to visit several other countries. One of which being Italy, where a friend and I took a pasta making class. It happened that the other 5 people who signed up for the class were exchange students from the US and we were able to engage in a conversation where we discussed the culture shocks – for better and for worse – that we had been navigating since moving to our respective host nations.
Overall, I had an incredible experience and am looking forward to going back to Austria to revisit some favorite places and continue to discover new ones!