My time abroad kicked off about eight months ago when I landed in Vienna to embrace the record-breaking hot weather with two strangers.
The German semester is different than the American semester—classes don’t start until October—so Vienna was technically a pre-semester program in which we would be taking German and history and otherwise indulging in our free time.
I loved many things about Vienna, despite the lack of A/C and constant heat. What I loved the most was there was always something to do, from museums to see and festivals to attend to tourist attractions to seek out.
In Vienna, it was hard to meet actual Austrians—no Austrian would ever need to take a German language class—but I met people from all over the world.
My best friends came from Moldova, Turkey, Thailand, Australia and Poland. It was an awesome experience to not only get to learn about Vienna, but also broaden my knowledge about the world around me by interacting with people from those parts of the world.
My Viennese vacation came to an end two months later. Traveling to Marburg, Germany from Vienna is an event.
Everyone has about 100 pounds of luggage and is taking a multitude of trains. We traveled from Vienna to Salzburg, then from Salzburg to Frankfurt and finally from Frankfurt to Marburg. Life in Marburg is completely different from life in Vienna.
Marburg is a small university town. Marburg is also beautiful because it was never bombed during the Second World War, so all the buildings are original. What’s perhaps most notable is that Marburg is on a hill. I currently live in the Marburger Schloss (Marburg castle) in a student dorm.
The Schloss is a major perk for me. I get to live with a roommate, which means I get to improve my German daily. We have house meetings every Monday, and lecturers come in every Wednesday.
Sometimes the meetings can be long, but I enjoy being able to have direct input in what’s happening in my home.
The meetings are all in German, fast-paced and sometimes intense, so at first they were dreaded. Now, my Mondays feel empty without them.
Being in the Schloss also means a once-a-semester house trip, movie nights, game competitions and family lunches. It makes Marburg feel like home.
Transitioning to life in Marburg was a struggle. Almost all of the culture shock had been taken care of in Vienna, but adapting to a German university was a new beast to conquer.
German university is not like American university; my classes meet twice a week and some of my class sizes are larger than anything offered at Etown. Marburg is a total immersion program: I have the opportunity to make deep friendships with Germans and become a part of the community.
I always read about how travel is a huge perk of being abroad. I find this funny, because I’ve only been out of the country a few times.
While I’ve only been to a few different countries, I’ve been to at least 10 German cities, almost all of which are in my state, Hesse.
Most of the time, I’m grateful that I’m here. The thing about living in a small town is that you can’t escape some things: the language and having to interact with natives.
It’s awesome to see my language skills grow as I experience situations that I know would have previously made me nervous.
There may not be something to do every day like there was in Vienna, but there’s always someone to do it with. Even with eight months behind me, I still feel like I don’t have enough time here.
Please note: Student Sara Kroboth ’19 originally wrote this article for The Etownian‘s weekly ‘Study Abroad Experience’ article. It was originally published on April 12, 2018. The Etownian is Elizabethtown College’s student newspaper. Click here to view the original article.
About the Author – Sara Kroboth ’19
Sara is an international business and German double major. She’s studying abraod in Marburg, Germany for the full 2017-18 academic year.
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