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Trying to Blend in as an American Student Abroad in Austria

by Trevor Tuxill
Trying to Blend in as an American in Austria | AIFS Study Abroad | Salzburg, Austria

One of my biggest hopes for this semester is that by December I no longer stand out as an obvious American student abroad. While the citizens are definitely respectful of everyone, there is a difference outside of just the language spoken between Austrians and tourists when being served at a restaurant, receiving help at a store, or even when riding on the bus.

Tourists are seen more as a short-term outsider who only comes to get the photos, can be a bit out there, and — especially when traveling in herds — seem to trample everything in their way. They rarely attempt to learn German when visiting.

So you see why my goal is to not be like that. I hope to be able to go to a coffee shop and speak only in German without them realizing I’m actually American. Plus, there are so many nuances to this city that would not be picked up on first glance if you didn’t at least try; beautiful little gems hidden in the enormous mine of jewels. It’s impossible to see it all, but I’m thankful for the ones I’ve already found: coffee shops; a wine bar; little restaurants that serve the best dinner; beautiful views from the catacombs; where to go to just be quiet and alone (unfortunately it doesn’t have a piano but the view makes up for it).

The other day, after our final exam in our German orientation classes, I think several of us actually experienced a little bit of “Austrian Life” from within. I’m not saying that we’re all fluent in German now because we’ve got a long road ahead of us before that, but here’s hoping! One of the girls in our group came up with the idea to reenact certain scenes from the movie everyone knows, The Sound of Music. Well me, along with a bunch of other enthusiasts (and even some who have never seen it before, hard to believe I know) were hopping on that bandwagon faster than you could say Edelweiss. We went to the locations of a few scenes (specifically the Mirabell Palace Gardens) and were dressed in our lederhosen and dirndls. Yes, we bought them. How could you not? Not only was it amazing for the photos, but we could wear them for all sorts of things! St. Ruperskiritag (a festival), Oktoberfest, and just so many other things! Anyway, I digress.

Trying to Blend in as an American in Austria | AIFS Study Abroad | Salzburg, Austria

Because we were in the traditional clothing, tourists were pulling us aside and asking us for photos with them. Little did they know we actually aren’t Austrian!

It’s been a wonderful time so far, experiencing the everyday life and settling into a routine now that classes have started. I say we’ll have more free time, but in reality it will be more flexible time that will be heavily devoted to my two independent studies.

Trying to Blend in as an American in Austria | AIFS Study Abroad | Salzburg, Austria

It’s hard to believe it’s already week three here in Salzburg. Time has surely flown by. I would say “I’ve loved every minute of it” but I would be lying. There have been times when I’ve missed home, or my folks, my brothers, family, friends, and as I’m sure so many of my fellows study abroad students can attest to, my dog. Yet I know this is where  I’m meant to be and it’s going to be an amazing time. It’ll be a time of growth, in so many ways. I’m thankful for this opportunity, and have thoroughly enjoyed meeting new friends here that although we’ll be far apart after this semester, will still remain in touch. Especially since one friend is from Bolton Landing, NY. How funny it is that we have to come all the way to Austria for us to meet when we are only an hour apart at home.

Anyways, that’s all for now, but I’m sure I’ll be posting again soon. There’s so much to share but only so much time in the day.

Auf Wiedersehen!

This post was contributed by Trevor Tuxill, who is studying abroad with AIFS in Salzburg, Austria.

Trying to Blend in as an American in Austria | AIFS Study Abroad | Salzburg, Austria

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