I made it to GRAZ! Here’s what I will be waking up to everyday for the next few months:
And here is a picture of my school!
This is the main building of the Karl-Franzens Universität, or the University of Graz where I will be studying.
The semester here in Europe doesn’t officially start until October, but I’m here a little early along with HUNDREDS of other exchange students from everywhere. Literally everywhere. Just today I met people from the US, Australia, Canada, France, Spain, Croatia, Belgium, England, Ireland, Poland, and those are just the countries I can remember off the top of my head. We are all here for “Welcome Week,” which is an introduction to studying here at the University of Graz, and to the day to day life as a student in the community. We got our student ID cards, learned how to register for courses, and got a campus tour!
The campus is really nice and really different from UNM’s. The various buildings that house everything from the Chemistry department to the Law library look no different than the residential buildings neighboring the University. If it weren’t for the small plaques indicating the names of the departments, I would have never guessed that there would be classrooms inside. The Uni (that’s what they call “college” here) also has a much older vibe to it. The doors are tall, wooden, and many creak when they are opened. It feels like I went back in time. Here’s a picture of the inside of one of the rooms used for various events. Looks just a little different than the architecture inside of the SUB ballrooms at UNM, right?
Everything is also much more compact on the campus, and in the town too. You can get across most of the town in around 10 minutes by bike! In Albuquerque, it would take me an hour to bike just half way across town from my house to UNM. I really like the change, though. Having everything closer together means there’s always people around running about their day; I like the city-like energy it gives off, even though Graz is actually not too big of a town.
The students here are all taking an Intensive German Language course during the month of September. The class meets everyday for 3 hours, and it starts tomorrow! We had to do two different placement tests, one written and one oral. We were then placed in our respective courses. There are so many people and also so many different levels of German. I met some people who didn’t know how to say hello and good-bye in German, and some people who I thought were native speakers.
Overall, my first impressions are that everyone is SO NICE. The local people have all been very welcoming, friendly, and helpful. They speak a beautiful dialect of German that I unfortunately cannot really understand, but they converse in “High German,” which is the standard written German, once they hear that a person is not from Austria. I actually have been able to practice my German here more than I have in Germany. In Germany, when I tried to speak German, people immediately replied in English. Here, though, they carry on replying in German for as long as I do! One of my goals of this experience was to strengthen my German language skills, so I was really excited to see that I’ll be getting to work on them outside the classroom as well.
And with that, I’ve adjusted really well! I’ve been using public transport to get to school, and I’ll be getting a bike soon. I’ve gone to the grocery store a couple times and stocked up my fridge (grocery shopping here is AMAZING by the way, it’s so cheap! A bag of lettuce like this in the states would never cost less than a dollar!! and I went to IKEA! My IKEA trip was quite the adventure…took the wrong bus, got lost, walked for an hour, and much more, but I’ll save that story for another time 🙂
Trip to the Grocery Store!