Classes

It’s very interesting to me to see how my view of classes and school has changed during my time here in Salzburg. From the topics being learned in class, to the teachers, to the work, to grades. Things are just very different here. We finished midterms about two weeks ago and I can definitely tell the difference between the United States and Salzburg. After the midterms there were quite a few people who did not feel so confident on how they did on their tests and I will admit I felt that way for certain classes. We got our grades back and not everyone was happy with what they got but what really interested me was the response from our teachers (we don’t call them professor). Overall they were very understanding and very sympathetic with those who were not very happy with their scores on their tests. They gave people the opportunity to talk to them in private instead of in front of everyone which I can totally understand could be very stressful and embarrassing. They did not understand why we were so disappointed with our grades because to them, anything over a D was fantastic. I personally did not feel any shame or pressure coming from them because they very clearly wanted what was best for us and they did not want us beating ourselves up over the test grades. Now, I am definitely not saying that the professors back in the States do pressure or put shame on us for our grades but there is definitely something different with the teachers approach to grades here in Salzburg.

Class wise the classes I am taking and the amount of work that needs to be done per class is pretty easy. The content within the classes that I am taking are very interesting and fun. The homework is very minimal (depending on what classes you take) the most homework that I have for a class is just for my German class. The classes that I am taking include: Elementary German, World War 2 and Central Europe, Music in the Age of Mozart, and Art and Architecture. I’ll admit that none of these classes go towards my major or minor back at DU but I’m studying abroad I have to take fun classes that I won’t get the experience of taking back in the States. If you were to ask me if I have any regrets of taking a class then I would have to say German because as someone who has taken years and years of Spanish, learning German was quite difficult. But, I am in a primarily German speaking country so why not? A favorite class? That would be difficult. I really enjoy the WW2 class because as Austria did play a role in the war it’s interesting to listen to an Austrian explain how the war went down and learn about it from a different countries perspective. We went on a field trip to a concentration camp last week and while it was a very emotional experience, it was also something I will never regret going to. My music class is definitely more on the fun side of things as we spend a lot of time listening to music and learning about the different types of music made by Mozart and by those in his era. The Art and Architecture class is also very interesting as I am learning about the many different types of buildings made in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. While these classes will end up going to my electives and I will have to make up my major and minor requirements when I get back, I am studying abroad to have a different experience in school and in life. I did come here for classes but why not have some fun with them?

Overall, my experience with classes have been positive so far. My teachers are all very nice and understanding and the workload definitely causes a lot less stress… something that I will not be ready for when I return to America. The program is now more than halfway done and I am counting down the days that I have left before I have to return! While I do love it here in Austria I do miss my home within the States a lot and am slowly becoming more and more ready to return as do some of the others here. I have gotten used to living here but I do miss things about the States that I do not have here… such as my family and my dog. All I am hearing these days are how people are missing their pets. Thank you for reading my post!

-Anna

Class
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Reverse Homesickness

Photo via Traveldigg.com

62 more days left in Berlin and it isn’t anywhere near enough. As I sit here desperately trying to cling to the grains of time that are passing me by, I can’t help but feel a deep sadness for what is to come. After 7 months of living in Berlin, I’ve succeeded in accomplishing my goal—to create my own little life for myself.

Unfortunately, I’ve been so successful at creating my own little life in Berlin that it’s now not so little, and it breaks my heart a bit as I realize that it is quickly coming to an end. The result of my efforts in Berlin has crafted treasured friendships, a beautiful relationship, and fluency at C1 level German. Gone are the days where I feel lost in this city, both literally but also in a more figurative sense. At first, I would lose myself just as quickly in a conversation in German as I would when riding the Bahn without my phone for navigation. Now, I can effortlessly navigate the Bahn systems and almost any interaction in German. But more importantly, I have a sense of home in the community I’ve built.

My speculation is that it is often this lack of community that results in students feeling homesick. I can confidently say that I felt homesick after 6 weeks in Berlin, but fast forward to the present and now I feel a different type of homesickness. I feel homesick for the present. I have this pit in my stomach and this stone weighing on my heart because I know that this beautiful, little life that I have created in Berlin will end. I have utterly fallen in love with this city.

Yet, this experience, while simultaneously beautiful and painful, is one that less than 2% of college students will have the opportunity to seek for themselves. According to NAFSA, only 1.6% of all college students in the U.S. studied abroad for the 2016-17 academic year (I don’t have data for how many students study abroad for a full academic year but I’m sure it’s even less). Of the 1.6% of students who do study abroad, only 10.2% are Hispanic/Latino American which makes my experience abroad particularly rare.

If you can take anything away from this blog, I hope it’s a sense of curiosity. Dare to dream what a semester or two of your college-experience would look like abroad. What kind of little life can you craft for yourself? Will you be heartbroken to leave, or eagerly awaiting the flight back home? You can’t know until you go find out for yourself.

-Raul

https://www.nafsa.org/Policy_and_Advocacy/Policy_Resources/Policy_Trends_and_Data/Trends_in_U_S__Study_Abroad/

Raul Orozco

Germany – Freie Universitat Berlin, 2018-2019 Academic Year

Raul Orozco is a senior at the University of Denver and is majoring in philosophy with minors in biology, German, and political science. He is participating in the Freie Universität Berlin European Studies Program (FU-BEST) in Berlin, Germany for the academic year. Raul hopes studying abroad in Berlin will enable him to gain fluency in the German language. 

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