Some would say that the moment our group boarded the bus to Munich, that our Salzburg adventure was over. Others would say that it was when our plane landed on U.S soil, or when we walked out of the Dulles double-doors. But regardless of where someone would say our Salzburg timeline ends, from my perspective, they’d be wrong either way.
I firmly believe that even though I’ve left Austria, my adventure is still unfolding. As humans are the sum of their experiences, the experiences that I had in Austria will forever influence me and my future endeavors. Even though I’m already feeling that pang of nostalgia for Austria as I’m writing this, I know that the nostalgia goes beyond just missing the place, but rather missing the growth that was cultivated there.
In my travels, I’ve caught glimpses of the human soul that I probably would never have seen if I didn’t study abroad. The world is forever shaped by benevolence when a soul is flourishing, but it is also forever scarred by malevolence when a soul is at its most broken. Being able to see different angles of the human condition, whether that be in the kindness of a non-English speaking stranger or in the haunting words carved into a Holocaust memorial, forces a person to grow. You can’t experience this type of growth from sitting in a classroom or watching a computer screen, because the only way to gain this growth is to encounter it for yourself.
The bonds created during my time in Austria go beyond the city limits of Salzburg too. Being able to live with about twenty other people who are having similar adventures as you but interpreting them completely differently, is also a unique experience. There were some days where I felt like I was being pushed as far out of my comfort zone as I could possibly go: just a few examples being when I had to come face-to-face with my fear of heights when we took a very steep cable car up to Untersberg or when I got sent to the emergency room for potential smoke inhalation (false alarm though). But regardless of whatever craziness happened that day, there was always some bread and cheese, a beer, and some laughs waiting for me when I got home. Everyone who went on the trip had those awkward or scary moments happen to them at least once, so we all learned how to appreciate those moments a bit more and find the humor in the hindsight.
I left part of my adolescence in Austria, but brought back a newfound confidence; a confidence that I can take with me, both nationally and internationally, for the rest of my life. For anyone interested in studying abroad in the future, I promise you if there’s one thing you will find no matter where you travel it will be a confidence in yourself. For in the always wise words of Julie Andrews: “…besides what you see I have confidence in me!”
Thank you for following my study abroad adventures, and go Mount!