Monday, March 31, 2008

Ashley H. - Salzburt, Austria- Spring 2008

By now, I should be a veteran at this whole studying abroad thing, seeing as how I have been in Salzburg, Austria since since September. Sure, the school routines are down, the bus routes are over taken, and the Austrian dialect is slowly sinking in, but parts of being here are still so new to me, and it absolutely amazes me that it's possible. We just finished a two week spring break out here, and having visitors from home and playing tour guide made me fall in love with this city all over again. I have to be honest, Salzburg no longer feels new, but it still doesn't feel like my home yet either; I'm somewhere in between all that and loving it. I feel comfortable here. Don't ever doubt anyone who tells you the second semester abroad is easier and more enjoyable because it is absolutely true! The drama of settling in and the uncomfortablenesses and anxiety of being a full-out foreigner is gone. Classes are surprisingly easier--not the content, but the comprehension. I NEVER thought I could sit through seven hours of German lectures and be able to understand every little joke or colloquialism thrown at me, but I do, and its the most accomplishing feeling ever! I now know many more tricks to surviving with the Austrians, little things like the correct way to pay for a bus ticket, all the way to binding snow shoes and avoiding avalanches in the Alps. There are still hard times: much much more is expected from me here because it's my second semester, the dollar is ridiculously week, efficiency does not exist, and I still find myself defending the American way quite often, but these little things lead to some of the most memorable times I am having here, and I really hope that everyone else who will be or is out of the country now will feel the same way once they settle in and won't give up. Try everything, see everything...twice in fact, and appreciate that its different. Not better or worse, just different. You will fall in love with it too.

6 Comments:

Blogger Jessica C said...

You are welcome to send me photos to post on your blog!
-Jessica Chavez (jessicac@elmhurst.edu)

10:12 AM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Response to Ashley - Salzburg, Austria - Spring 2008

Reading Ashley's post about her experience in Austria reminds me of my first time abroad visiting the city. I must say, Austria was a huge relief compared to Germany where everyone is known for being indifferent and very "direct" if not insulting. I found that the city was also beautiful, and i especially loved the view of the Alps from my youth hostel I was staying at. Indeed, there is a hard time for Americans defending their way of life. We have a bad reputation among the world, and most non-Americans have a hard time differentiating between the American government and the American people. So it is easy to see why criticism is wide spread based on our foreign policies. Another important fact to know is that most Europeans base their knowledge of Americans off our film industry. If anyone goes into a video store there you would be amazed to see how many American goods their are there mainly films and TV series on DVD. My host father even said to me in Muenchen "Most of the Americans i have had stay with me are not typical Americans" :) i laughed on the inside, because of most of the Americans he hasn't met don't allign properly with his Bavarian stereotypes then well...Most of his stereotypes would have to be wrong! In America we are taught that stereotypes are wrong but i felt that that was not necessarily the case in Germany (again he didn't mean anything bad about it he was just very direct and indifferent typical German traits). Sometimes it was actually quite comical. A friend of mine with me on my first abroad trip told a few austrians about the appauling conditions in their youth hostels to which the Austrians said "no no no! Don't compare us to them. We don't think highly of the Germans." :)What competition! Austrians i feel try to hold themselves above the Germans with their standards. They are also much more friendly when you first encounter them. The only problem i ever had, which i am sure Ashley has encountered, is the moment the Germans, and i am sure Austrians too, find out that you are an American they want to begin practicing their English with you. They don't mean it to be an insult to your German abilities they just really think of it as an opportunity to improve their English with you even though you might be wanting to practice German. It is almost like a little battle you can't win. Believe it or not but some Austrians really do enjoy speaking English that much (assuming you take an interest in their own language that is).

11:19 AM  
Anonymous lidija said...

Hi Ashley,
It's nice to hear that you're having such a great time in Salzburg!!! I am studying abroad in Freiburg in the fall and I was wondering how the classes were at the school and how difficult it was to adjust? I am planning on taking a couple gen-eds out there so I'm not really worried about the material but mostly the language difference.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Holly Golcher said...

Hi Ashley,

I am writing to you in concern about the culture. How did you handle the culture shock fromg not being anywhere near what yours used to back here in the states. Is there any suggestions you can give on how to handle culture shock?

Thanks,
Holly Golcher

2:05 PM  
Blogger Ashley H. said...

Lets see, my classes? well, lucky for me university classes are taught in "proper german and NOT dialect, which would kill anyone. At first it is a bit strange, but eventually your ears catch on and you don't think twice about it. I find it harder to respond than it is to listen actually. Luckily for us native speakers, English is known among many in the world of academia, so worst comes to worse you can ask a teacher in german or ask a fellow student for further explaination. My biggest advice for you, is make a point to list words you hear often and LEARN them; every area and every dialect has certain terms that it uses more than others. I hope that helps!

In response to culture shock, to be honest, last week, it FINALLY hit me. Yes, after eight months! I wanted to be back home and just give up and ignore the european world, and to be honest, I did just that. I took sometime to myself and went out and bought some american magazines and a book, and I spoiled myself with english and just let myself relax and rejuvenate. I was just burnt out from it all. It is really hard not to want to find things from back home that comfort you,and its ok too, but as long as its not ALWAYS your method because then eventually you will learn to associate "good" with familiar and "bad" with your new foreign surroundings. It also helped that along side with my english fix, I did things in Salzburg that I really enjoyed. I took a small trip, went for a boat ride, and went to a football game with some friends. It reminded me that even though I have hit a rough patch, there are still things here that I love and make me happy. People around you are also a good bet to help you get through it. Not just Americans too. There are quite a few random europeans from ALL over who miss their home and would love to have a vent session with you- because lets face it..sometimes just letting it all out helps too.

11:33 AM  
Blogger G said...

Hi Ashley,
Your blog was intriguing and makes all the more excited for my own trip to India in the spring of 09! I'm wondering if you have any tips on selecting classes for the first semester abroad. Is it worth taking the foreign language course? How much do you study outside of class? Thanks!
Gwendolyn Kletter

10:45 AM  

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