As I sit here writing this post, our group is probably 30,000 or so feet above the Atlantic returning home from the month of a lifetime, a month that undoubtedly changed perspectives and made a lasting impact on all of the students who studied abroad this summer.
Twelve years ago, I had a similar opportunity to study in Salzburg at the end of my own study abroad experience with my undergraduate institution.
The impacts of that trip were enormous: It was there that I fell in love with the field of Communication enough that I wanted to pursue graduate studies; there that my limited perspective of the world and how it big but small it was changed; and there that I decided that one day, I would be back in this city with students of my own.
I asked the bloggers to reflect on their month abroad, the favorite moments, things unexpected, and everything in between. Here’s what they had to say:
“My favorite thing about Salzburg, besides the delicious beer, is the colorful, lock-covered bridge connecting Old Town and the new side of town. The lock bridge presents a unique image to travelers from all over the world, and it offers an experience that has touched my heart.
The bridge gets its name from the number of key-locks trapped on its chains. The idea is to place a lock on the bridge with the names of your loved ones written across it. People from all over the world stand on this bridge and attach a lock to symbolize their love. They make a wish and toss the key into the flowing river to hold on to that love forever.
Reading the names on each lock and noticing the different languages makes me feel like love is everywhere and extends to all lengths of the world. Love is what connects us to cultures and communities, and love is what makes us all human. Being in Salzburg, all I have wanted to do is share a piece of it with my family and friends.
Standing on the lock bridge reminds me of how lucky I am to have such loving family and friends in my life. Being in Salzburg, I have felt so incredibly blessed. The lock bridge symbolizes the love of so many people; it is truly breathtaking to see the love locks and the beautiful scenery surrounding them.”
Favorite part: My favorite part about the Salzburg trip was getting to know everyone in our group! I loved the city, but I honestly did not expect to get so close to the people that I was going on the trip with. The good times, smiles, laughs and memories that I have from this trip will last a lifetime.
Top thing I learned: Self-confidence. This trip has taught me to be more confident in myself. From the little things like checking out at the grocery store (all in German) to figuring out how to walk back from the salt mines to the train station in Hallein, I have learned to trust myself and go with my gut. I feel so much more confident and sound in my decision making skills too.
Another thing I learned: You actually have to study during study abroad! I have known people to study abroad and they have said it was so easy and they didn’t have to do any schoolwork – but that was not the case on this trip! My friends and I definitely had homework, and exams, and papers. On the bright side, we found a really great American style cafe to study in so we spent a lot of time there!
If we had more time: I wish we could’ve taken more excursions to different cities like Munich and Innsbruck, and also just spend more time in Salzburg! This month went by so fast, and I just wish I had more time to spend in this wonderful city.
Do I think I’ll ever return?: Well, I am spending next semester studying abroad again in Prague, Czech Republic, so if I have a free weekend I would love to come back and visit!
“It’s apropos that wanderlust is a German word because after living in this wonderful German-speaking land for a month, I now have the mystical urge to continue to travel as much of this beautiful world that I possible can. Studying abroad this past month has force me to grow as a person in so many different ways, and I truly believe this personal grow that I’ve experienced is the main reason wanderlust is filling my heart and soul. I’ve gained confidence in my own decisiveness, while also gaining the patience to trust in the decisiveness of others. I’ve learned how to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as me, while also learning how to better communicate with my fellow English speakers who I’ve had the privilege of spending the last month with. Above all else, I’ve learned that I absolutely love Austria, and that I will definitely be coming back. I choose to think of my departure from Austria not as an end, but the beginning of the endless pursuit to fulfill my German-instilled wanderlust. Auf wiedersehen, Austria; I will see you again!”
“This was the trip of a lifetime. As much as we had travel issues or the weather failed us on some days, all together the trip exceeded my expectations and truly gave me an experience I’ll never forget. But I am going to do more than forget it – I am going to cherish it. My favorite thing from this trip was being able to live the everyday life of an Austrian. One day, I was speaking with one of the supervisors of the trip as we stood upon the Cathedral’s terrace, and we emphasized the difference between being a traveler and a tourist. A tourist is one who simply visits from place to place, longing to see the sights. A traveler, on the other hand, is a settler. They mark their spot and stay in that spot for an extended period of time. This is what our group did in Salzburg. We made it our home. We made it our humble abode. From going to the lake, attending the markets, sitting at a cafe on a Sunday afternoon, and so much more – I was able to fully understand what it meant to be a part of Salzburg. I saw its heart and immediately adored its every quality.
I definitely intend on re-visiting the city. I look forward to taking along with me my own family and friends to share with them Salzburg’s glory. I have no regrets on this trip; however, I thoroughly wish I would’ve taken a trip up to the fortress one afternoon. Its sheer height seems to make for a good view!
Salzburg has caused me to want more. I want to go back to Europe and explore. This trip showed me what a true adventure is and how to embrace every moment of it. I look forward to being able to do that in other cities around the world. Thank you, Salzburg, for giving me the trip of a lifetime. You have my heart. ”
So as you can see, the impacts of studying abroad are endless. We still have one more installment of our favorite things we’d like to share with you, later this week once we’ve caught up on sleep (we had a 3:00 a.m. wake-up call to make it to Munich for our flight back to the States). Check back for that and for a post-trip reflections from each of our bloggers over the next two weeks!
Keep following us here for more perspectives from other trips we take through the Mount’s Foreign Studies Program. Up this fall: Prague (and Emma will be on that trip, too!)
Feature image: Courtesy of Haley