Sarah enjoys the beautiful view of Schlossberg.
Overseas Study Program
Sarah’s majors: German and Anthropology
Term abroad: Summer 2009
Reason you chose this program: I decided to go to Graz because I had a desire to study in a German-speaking country. Austria provided a good alternative to the standard study for German students in Germany.
Favorite class: Austrian Culture
Describe the housing situation: In Graz, we lived with families. Many of these families have had multiple students from IU in the past and knew what to expect. All of the families are hand-picked by an affiliate professor in Austria. The homestays are very memorable.
Best memory: One Sunday, when my family was out of town, I decided to explore the city on my own. I packed a book and some water and set out for the center of town, where the ruins of an old castle and a beautiful clock tower sit atop a large hill called Schlossberg. I hiked up the stairs and sat on the wall by the clock tower, reading my book. At 6 p.m. all the church bells and clock towers in the city rang. The sound floating up to the top of the hill, surrounding me. The moment was beautiful and one I will remember forever.
Biggest surprise: I was most surprised by the people. I expected the Austrians to be exactly like the Germans, not realizing the historical differences between the two. However, the Austrians were very laid-back. It was a very refreshing surprise.
What I wish I knew before I left: I wish I had been more familiar with Austrian history and cultural importance. I also wish I would've known the Austrian dialect to help make the transition smoother.
What you know now that you didn't know before going abroad: I know about Austria and how it differs from Germany. It has its own culture and its own way of life. I now can fully appreciate this difference and the way the people thrive in it.
Fact about your host country that you think people would be surprised to learn: Austria used to be the center of one of the largest European Empires, the Austrian Empire run by the Hapsburg Family. Today, it is roughly the same size and has the same population as Indiana, with Graz being the second largest city.
Advice to future study abroad participants: I would definitely recommend traveling during and after your stay in Graz. The city is a wonderfully central location. It is easy and fairly cheap to travel to cities such as Venice, Prague, Budapest, Maribor and Munich by train or bus.