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Vienna study abroad experience prepares international travelers



Auburn University's Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures prepares students to be travelers, not tourists, through its study abroad programs by offering one-of-a-kind opportunities to globalize their education.

The German study abroad program in Vienna, Austria, allows students to enhance their language and cultural skills over five weeks each summer. Rebecca Simon, a junior in professional flight and German, traveled to Vienna to prepare for a career in international flight.

"As I'm majoring in a foreign language, I wanted the experience of actually using the language I'm learning in everyday scenarios," Simon said. "Studying abroad also expands my worldview, which is important for my career goal as an international pilot."

Vienna hosts several open-air theaters, Gothic churches, Baroque palaces, breathtaking museums and imperial parks and gardens. Students study at the Austo-Amerika Institut, directly across from the Vienna State Opera House. German language courses and an English-taught culture class are taught by either an Auburn professor or Austrian instructor. Students may also take art history, history and political science courses.

Simon said her experience abroad was busy but rewarding. She enrolled in an advanced German grammar course and a Vienna history and culture class, which helped her navigate the city independently.

"My German improved tenfold while in Vienna and I was able to take what I learned in the course and apply it to my everyday such as ordering food, shopping and speaking with locals," Simon said. "I also learned how independent and capable I am, as I was able to find my way around without a guide, which allowed me to visit many places in the city."

While in Vienna, students stay with a host family that supports their cultural understanding and language practice. Because of each host family's proximity to the U-Bahn, the Viennese subway system, and the country's centrality in Europe, students often travel to other cities in Austria or take weekend trips to other parts of Europe.

Simon said she most felt like a traveler, and not a tourist, during an excursion in which she had a fluent conversation with another traveler.

"My favorite memory was as I was riding the Straßenbahn (tram), an older German lady asked me for help with directions to the Sisi Museum, in which I was able to help her in German. She was very thankful and told me my German was very good, which I appreciated a lot," Simon said. "My advice to any students thinking about studying abroad is to go for it! It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity."

Simon was able to attend the Vienna study abroad program because of generous support from a scholarship. She recommends students explore scholarship options and encourages those who can give to support future students' life-changing travels.

Find more information on programs at the study abroad website. To support student scholarships, make your gift through the giving portal.

Tags: World Languages Literatures and Cultures Students International Initiatives

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