Last Updated on March 11, 2020 by AIFS Abroad
Alumni Ambassador Taylor studied abroad in Salzburg, Austria with AIFS for the academic year. As a history major, Salzburg was the perfect fit, with courses in literature, philosophy, politics, culture, business, and of course, history. She shared with us a little about her courses and why studying abroad is a unique academic experience:
One of the biggest misconceptions about studying abroad is that there is not a lot of actual studying happening and that more time is spent outside of the classroom than in it. As someone who decided to study abroad for two semesters, I was a bit worried about this myself and wondered if my classes abroad would not be interesting or challenging enough. Yet once I began my studies in Salzburg, Austria I found that this could not be farther from the truth.
One of the reasons I chose to study in Austria with AIFS is because the classes offered were perfectly aligned with my major, history, as well as so many of my other interests: German language, political science, and art history. Studying in Europe allowed me to truly understand the topics I was learning about. During both semesters my professors led us on “history walks” through Salzburg, showing us the building and places where important historical events happened in the city. They also touched upon history that is not as well known or made apparent to tourists, such as much of Salzburg’s Nazi and World War II history.
During my Art and Architectural History course the city was our textbook: we studied the architecture of Salzburg and how the buildings fit into the greater scheme of art history. We visited the various museums in Salzburg and give presentations on the art right in front of us.
I also study German language, and my experience studying the language in Austria was sometimes challenging but extremely positive. The class sizes were small, and during class we were expected to always participate and contribute to the lesson. Classes were conducted completely in German, which was a great way to gain confidence in speaking the language.
There are so many benefits to studying German in Austria, the first being that our professors were all native speakers. A lot of what we were learning outside of class through daily life in Salzburg was integrated into our lesson chapters. At the beginning of class we always had a discussion on how we were adjusting to life in Salzburg, and later in the semester when we started traveling, we had discussions about our weekends. My professor always asked if we had any questions about the language or anything we had heard in German. In Salzburg they speak a very specific dialect, so I always appreciated this time to digest the language that we were also learning outside of class.
Studying and Grades
In Salzburg, how much you put into your academics was definitely what you got out of it. The majority of our grade was based on projects and papers that were due at the end of the semester. This meant that we had to stay organized and motivated throughout the semester, and at times this system was challenging with so much going on.
In the end, I believe that it made me a better student. My favorite thing about the courses was that our classes were small, and as a result discussions and debates were really interesting and personal. My courses abroad offered experiences that a huge lecture back at home would never have.
Ultimately, some of my favorite memories from abroad were those that happened during class. My academics were a highlight of my year abroad because they integrated so well the things that were happening or had happened in Salzburg with what we were studying in the classroom.