Traveling to Europe can be a very exciting adventure. With other countries in close proximity, it can make going to other countries very accessible. However, with the countless opportunities at hand, it is very easy to miss out on activities and events that are in your very own host city or country. Finding the balance between spending time in your study abroad city versus surrounding countries is very important. There are so many opportunities that await.
Salzburg alone is filled with so many interesting things to do. You can spend your weekends hiking up the mountains for some of the most breathtaking views, where you can often grab a bite to eat and a delightful cappuccino at the top, or sit at a local cafe and enjoy a pastry and coffee as you enjoy the cafe culture of the Austrian people. The Sound of Music was filmed in Austria, so you can travel throughout Salzburg to enjoy various locations as to where the movie was filmed. You can go to Schloss Hellbrunn where the gazebo from the movie is located, or you can spend a little more money and take one of the Panorama Tours where they will bus you all around with a tour guide that informs you of historical events from the movie. You can also go a little bit further to Berchtesgaden, Germany to visit the Salt Mines or the Eagle’s Nest (which was one of Hitler’s establishments), which is located only a little over ten miles away from Salzburg.
On October 7, I was able to participate in an event called “Lange Nacht der Museen,” which means “Long Night of the Museums.” With one museum ticket, I was able to visit as many museums as I wanted from 6:00 PM to 1:00 AM, with special transportation available to each museum. This event allowed me to save a tremendous amount of money and still see about eight museums in the time frame of the event. I went to museums that spanned from the Austrian Military Museum to Bible World to museums that I did not even know existed. In the Salzburg Museum, I learned that one of the very city centers that I walked past quite often was one of the locations of a book burning during World War II. I even ventured into one museum that held underground ruins from the first, second, third centuries of Salzburg. If it were not for that night I would have had no idea that that had even existed. The history that surrounds us without us even knowing is truly incredible.
History is all over Europe. Every day I cross the bridge to the Alt Stadt, and I am reminded that the bridge was made by prisoners of war, forced against their will, during the Nazi regime. To imagine that those people were the ones we always here about in history — were physically right there, laboring to their death — is a very humbling reminder and experience. Or every little gold square you see throughout Europe that represents a Jewish family or other European who was forced out of their home (in that very location) leaving behind everything they owned, as they were deported to various concentration camps and ghettos run by the Nazi regime.
Immersing yourself in the culture is the most important thing. Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria, so you can tour his birth house or even enjoy some marzipan that was named after him. Or you can enjoy Stiegl, which is the beer that is brewed locally. There is also a historical brewery that was a monastery where the Monks used to brew beer, years ago. You can visit and attend various church services throughout the city. Many of which have incredibly intricate designs, made of gold and the finest materials.
If you do choose to leave your study city, then the opportunities are truly endless. However, it is important to remember that quality trips are much better than quantity. While you can feel very eager to travel to as many countries as possible, it is very easy to not truly get to absorb those locations due to a lack of time, expense, and the time it takes to travel. Choosing only a few places that you plan to travel to can help save money and allow you to enjoy time in those destinations. If you do not get the chance to see everything that you wanted to, than you should not worry, because you will be back. If there is a will, there is a way. Planning future trips beyond your study abroad can potentially help ease some of the planning process. I have been very fortunate to visit Kreuzlingen, Switzerland and Konstanz, Germany. Not only was I able to explore a new country that I had not been to, I was also able to see more of a country that I have already visited. There are truly so many incredible places to see.
Money is a completely whole other factor to consider when planning your time abroad. There will be a wide array of budgets amongst students. Whatever your budget is, it is okay, and you can still see a large part of the world, no matter how much you are able to spend (or not spend). It is important to enjoy your time abroad, but it is okay to be realistic so that you do not break the bank while traveling. Find the budget and activities that work best for you. Regardless of your financial situation, you are studying in another country. It is important to make the best of it.