Lillian Arkesteyn '20

Program: Austria Fall Semester

Major: Social Science

Minor: Secondary Education, Political Science

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?

I wanted to study abroad because I know there is much more to the world than what I have seen. I had also heard from many teachers, friends, and classmates that this was the best decision I could ever make. I was hoping to have memorable experiences and lifelong friends.
Logistically this program made sense for me because it fit well with my four-year plan. I have a minor in political science, so I fulfilled one of my upper division requirements with the European politics class. I also finished my fine arts requirement in the art history class. Austria is a beautiful country, and it is conveniently located to travel, so that also factored into my decision. Additionally, I have taken class with our faculty director in the past, so I knew I would be in good hands.

Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.

Our group had the incredible opportunity to spend a couple nights in the Alps. We hiked up and stayed for two nights before hiking down on the third day. This was a pivotal experience because we got to build relationships with each other, and we learned from our German professors as well. We spent three days getting to know each other by playing games, sharing meals, and exploring one of the most beautiful places in the world. This was the base for building friendships over the entire semester. Hiking and mountain sports are popular in Austria, so we encountered many other people during our time in the alps. I felt so accomplished after hiking up and greeting people in German along the way. It was a wonderful way to connect with each other through a typical Austrian experience.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

This was the most incredible experience of my life! It was wonderful and eye-opening to experience school and culture in and around Salzburg. I had so many unique opportunities that I never thought I would encounter. We got to be immersed in a rich and wonderful culture for nearly four months, and it was life-changing. We also had the privilege of seeing beautiful and historic places across the region. Through these experiences, I learned how to be more adventurous, confident, and independent. I also made lifelong friends which made this experience even more amazing. I got to pack so much into four months with my newest and closest friends.

Based on your experiences abroad, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?

There are so many amazing aspects of studying abroad! You get to learn in a different environment with a variety of learning styles. We got to explore the history and art of the city instead of simply taking notes in the classroom. It is also a great way to push yourself beyond what you may be comfortable with; this was huge for me. I got to participate in new and sometimes intimidating experiences, but I was always surrounded by people who made those decision easy. Those people are now lifelong friends of mine. This will be beneficial for me going forward because I am willing to take more risks confidently. This semester also made me think about living or working abroad in the future. I had never considered this before, but there are so many opportunities to do amazing things outside of the places I am used to. This helped me realize what is important to me and what I actually want out of my life in the future.

What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?

Absolutely do it! It may seem scary and there are a lot of unknowns, but there is an entire community of people working with you and rooting for you. You will have unimaginable experiences that you can share with amazing classmates and professors. You can also grow so much in such a short time. This could be the best experience of your life, and I cannot recommend it more highly.