Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Scott - October

Hey my name is Scott, and I am a German and Political Science double major. I am studying for the Fall semester in Salzburg, Austria. The program I am in has about 12 undergraduate students and 8 graduate students. I arrived in late September, and found my dormitory with relative ease. My dorm is located about 15 minutes from the University by foot. I have an Austrian roommate who comes from Linz. Linz is about 90 minutes from Salzburg. It is very common for Austrian students to go home on weekends, and that is what my roommate does. When I first arrived in Salzburg I had the first day to just explore and relax. After that we had a few days of Orientation, and then classes began. I'm taking 4 classes taught by native Austrians with the other program participants. I am also taking an intensive german course (Deutsch als Fremdsprache) with about 70 other students. We took placement tests to see which class was for us. The classes here are very different from ones back home naturally, but I am getting a lot out of them. Like you hear from other people who have studied abroad previously, there is usually only one or two tests per class. There is usually no attendance taken, and no homework is collected. That can be a blessing as well as a hindrance. Overall, though, the classes are very interesting and I like the style of teaching a lot.
Tomorrow is an Austrian holiday, so everything will be closed. The times that stores are open is just one of the things that is completely different than back in the States. Most stores are open until 5, and grocery stores usually close around 6 or 7. Nothing is open on Sundays, and store have reduced hours on Saturdays. I saw Kevin was talking about the grocery stores, and they are very different. The first time I went shopping, I forgot that I had to weigh my own fruit, so that was quite the embarrassment. Overall this first month has been amazing. There are obviously going to be ups and downs, but the ups outweigh the downs by far. I've met amazing people from all over the world: from Kosovo to Iceland to Iraq to Sri Lanka. All the students have been so nice to me, and it doesn't hurt to be living in an amazing city. We don't have classes on Friday, so I'm taking advantage of that and going to Munich this weekend. So far the language has been tough some days, and other days I've felt really positive. Most of the natives will speak dialect which is very difficult to understand. I'm trying to learn to at least understand it, but it is very different from High German. I am looking forward to any questions anybody has.


Anonymous Alison Meseth said...

Since I am studying abroad next semester, reading other peoples' thoughts and experiences is helpful to me in what I should expect in another country. It seems common that schools don't take attendance or collect homework at all. I think that this may be a bad thing in my case becuase sometimes I feel that it is hard to get myself motivated to do homework if it is not going to be collected. I hope that doesn't hurt me when I'm abroad.

It must be nice not having classes on Fridays, as it gives you more time on weekends to travel and get to know the area. Also, meeting people from all over the world must be an interesting experience. It will all be new to me because i have never traveled outside of the United States (except to Canada.)

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Steven H. said...

I think its really neat that you are meeting people from lots of different countries while you are there. It lets you learn not only about German culture but about a multitude of cultures. Do you have many people to hang out with during the weekend if a lot of the Austrians go home? How did the trip to the palace turn out? I saw that you had some pictures of it on facebook. Hope you keep having a great time.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Shannon S. said...

Hi, I'll be studying in France next semester, so I'm in the study abroad class, and reading these posts is very interesting and helpful. You bring up things that I wouldn't have even thought about. You say that you've met people from all over the world, that's one of the things I'm most looking forward to. I've heard from others that international students tend to stick together naturally, but I was wondering if you have to make more of an effort to meet native Austrians? Do you get along with your roommate? Hope you're making progress understanding the local dialect.

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Adjusting to the differences in education systems can be difficult. Prior to coming to Austria, I felt the same way about you as homework. To my surprise, I have found that I am eager to finish homework, so that I can go and hang out with people in my dorm. It will take some adjustment, but you will definitely get into the swing of things quicker than you expect. Hope this helps.


2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


First off, WORLD SERIES CHAMPS! I find that on weekends that some of the Austrian students stay around campus, and there are also a lot of other international students in my dorm on weekends. My American friends from other dorms also have friends who stay, so you meet people very quickly. When you are in an unfamiliar situation, you tend to make friends pretty quickly. The trip to the palace was amazing. I love being able to learn about gothic and baroque art in class, and then on the weekends going on excurions and seeing the art forms up close. It's very refreshing. Talk to you later.


2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


It is true that international students do stick together. You can empathize with each other. As far as making friends with native Austrians, it is more difficult. It is very easy to have good acquaintences, but it is tough to become friends. Austrians value friendship very highly. I was nervous about having an Austrian roommate, but it has been amazing. He comes from Linz, and he promised to only speak German with me. He has been very helpful with the language among many other things. He even offered to show me around his home town some weekend. Hope this helps.


2:12 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

It's really great to hear that your roommate is helping you with some things to get better adjusted to the Austrian Culture. I will be studying in Jamaica next semester and will be living with a host family. So hopefully they will be similar to your roommate for myself and falling into the culture. So we are at a point of studying Culture shock in our prep class. Your grocery store incident was very interesting. At that point all you can really do is have a little laugh. I've been studying Jamaica as much as possible, but I’m sure I will find myself in those odd positions still, which will be one of the hardest things to overcome or will make the culture shock more difficult. Mainly I'm just worried about insulting Jamaicans by doing something toatally wrong. So it would be interesting to hear more of your experiences while adjusting to Austria, and how you may have dealt with any of this culture shock, especially since you only had that one day to explore.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Val said...

Hi Scott,

I'm also in the pre-study abroad class; I'll be going to Oxford in the spring. I think it's really interesting how the grocery stores are open at different times--it seems to be indicative of a different pace to life. Have you found this to be the case? Did you have trouble adjusting to that at all? We've just begun our unit on culture shock in class, so I was curious about other experiences you may have had (like the grocery stores) and how you dealt with them. Good luck with everything.

12:34 AM  
Anonymous Alison Meseth said...

Hello again. I was wondering if you experienced any culture shock when you arrived in Austria. If so, can you describe it, and give some advice on how you got over it? How long did it take to get used to the new culture (assuming you are used to it already)?

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Steven H. said...

Hey Scott... I was wondering how culture shock affected you in regards to Austrian food. Did it take some time to get accustomed to, or was it a smooth transition? Do you ever just want some McDonald's?

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Alison-

Culture shock is something that you can never be fully prepared for, obviously. When I first arrived in Austria I wasn't immediately hit with culture shock. There was so much to see and explore. It hit me about 2 weeks in once I got into the groove of classes, and realized that this wasn't just a vacation, but rather I was going to be here for a semester. I would say that journaling really helped me. Also just talking about what you're experiencing. It's a great way to keep busy and make friends at the same time. I still experience little bouts of culture shock, but for the most part I feel like I got over it relatively quickly. Hope this helps.


12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Steve-

Good question. I'm sure everyone has an idea of what German/Austrian food is like, so I'm sure you can imagine how different it is. I actually have been a vegetarian since I have been here. It's very odd because back home I loved to eat meat, but since I've been here it just hasn't sounded appealing. The vegetarian dishes are amazing, so it makes the transition relatively easy. You'll be surprised how saturated cities are with McDonald's. I think there are 4 here, and the city isn't even that large!


12:06 PM  

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