Alumni Spotlight: Julia James


Julia is an accountant-in-training with a great love for all things Austrian.

Why did you choose this program?

I have always had a great interest in the German-Austrian culture. My grandma spent a few years in Munich as a child, and hearing her stories inspired me to try to learn the language myself. When I saw that my university offered an overseas program in Salzburg, I couldn't be more thrilled. It was a perfect fit for me!

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My university's Study Abroad advisor met with me numerous times to make sure I was equipped to fill out all the necessary paperwork. Unfortunately, the Salzburg program is not nearly as popular as the London program, and I ended up being the only student enrolled from my university to Salzburg College. Because of this, I had to do a lot of research on my own about what I would need to pack and prepare for in Austria.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Put yourself out there! In a program like Salzburg College where the native language isn't English, don't be afraid to try to speak to the locals in German. They love seeing your effort, and, if all else fails, most also speak English. It's a good way to feel more familiar with the language you're learning and meet other people.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

In order to keep us immersed in the culture, classes were scheduled primarily in the morning to allow free travel and exploring time in the afternoon. Additionally, classes were only held Monday through Thursday, with two weeks given for spring break.

In my case, my day started with a German course followed by an Austrian culture course. Then, in the evening whenever I would return to my housing, (I was placed in a host home just across the border in Germany) Oma, my Haus Frau, would have a wonderful dinner prepared.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I was very intimidated about being the only one from my university enrolled in the Salzburg College program. Not only had I never been out of the country before but now I would be leaving everyone I knew behind to live among strangers for four months! However, these strangers did not stay strangers for long, and I forged strong bonds with the girls I studied with.

Is it important to keep a journal?

Yes! Whether it be a paper journal or an Instagram photo journal, it is very important to document your time abroad.

There will be encounters and experiences every day that, if not recorded, will fade from your memory.

Just the other day I was reading through my notebook of observations, and the memories came flooding back! I hadn't even remembered writing some of the items down.