Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, seasoned salts, and the famous Sound of Music; these are just a few things that the small town of Salzburg, Austria has both a strong reputation for and takes absolute pride in. Salzburg is a city of approximately 145,000 people, which borders Germany, overlooks the Alps and Salzach River, and is littered with beautifully ornate baroque buildings. Upon my arrival in Salzburg, I thought I had been completely prepared for my upcoming semester at the Universität Salzburg (University of Salzburg). I had picked out my courses well in advance, I had my own apartment with a lovely German roommate, and I was somewhat aware of the culture differences in Austria compared to America. When I arrived in Salzburg in mid-February (their semester starts a whole month after ours at CSULB!), I was overwhelmed with excitement and was immediately greeted by my roommate in the pouring rain- a Salzburg classic. The university suggests that you come 2 weeks prior before classes start. Those 2 weeks were completely underwhelming for me since I hadn’t really known anyone else in the city and it became a period of looming existential thoughts. I had spent my time lounging and eating cereal in my bedroom, reading a book I had brought, and doing a massive amount of scrolling on the Internet. My expectations had sadly lowered regarding the city, just because I genuinely didn’t know what to do with my time there and I hadn’t met anyone new. I had really begun to wonder if Salzburg was the right town for me for the next 6 months.
It was only a week later where, thank goodness for this week, there was a special interaction date for all of us international students called: orientation. If there is one thing I’ve learned about mingling and facing college introductions, never miss orientation. Not only do you get to meet your future friends who come from literally all around the world, but it also provides various and significant tips on your upcoming semester, such as how to print and scan documents from your library, how to officially register for classes, and most importantly how to log on to your campus WiFi. My orientation also helped us gain an understanding on how to pursue a bus pass, a bike, or where to buy kitchen and housing supplies. Orientation is also where I met some of my best friends throughout the trip, specifically more Americans, who are actually from my city, and one even went to my high school. This brought a new meaning to the phrase ‘small world’! This orientation week will only help you in feeling more welcomed and immersed in the city, and I had learned I wasn’t the only one who had felt completely bored those first 2 weeks. From then on I had created many relationships with not only Americans, but people from Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Ireland, and others. Having these relationships is vital to me, because you learn so much about that person and their culture, and in return they want to know so much about you! I was fortunate enough to visit many of these friends in their home countries, such as Portugal, which I can only highly recommend.
Salzburg was ultimately the best city for me as a study abroad student. In Austria, I was able to go on the most absolute scenic hikes (I know I will never see a view like that again elsewhere), I was able to immerse myself with both internationals and natives of city, especially by hitting up the local pub scene of Salzburg, and I was able to travel around to at least 7 different countries around Austria, or countries that were even on the complete opposite side of Austria.
Below are a few of my favorite pictures & memories from my time there:
(Above) This is the Salzach River- the main river of Salzburg that flows throughout the city. In summertime, green grass takes over the banks of the river and it is perfect for enjoying fresh fruit from a local farmer’s market along with an Austrian beer. I would even do some of my homework here!
(Above) Here is the rooftop café of the university, with an unreal backdrop overlooking the Alps. Whether winter or summer, it’s always pleasant to grab a coffee or meal and meet with friends at the Unipark Nonntal Café.
(Above) This view is from my absolute favorite hike in Salzburg- Kapuzinerberg. There are multiple pathways to take while inside the Austrian forests, and you get the most incredible views and various angles from around Salzburg. With the Salzach on the left side, this picture mainly provides a viewing of the city center and its delightful Salzburgian buildings and architecture.
Although Salzburg is small, it is the most charming city filled with so much love and culture waiting to be explored.