James in Austria

James in Austria

"My name is James Lloyd. I studied abroad in Graz, Austria. My majors are Chemical Engineering and German.

I actually studied abroad junior year of high school for one semester. I had a wonderful time, I had a wonderful host family in a small city about an hour away from the city in which I stayed last year. And I guess that gave me the motivation to study abroad again.

Well initially, I was thinking about the Bilateral Exchange from the Learning Abroad Center. But the problem with that was it wasn't really technical enough. Because what I wanted to avoid was having to repeat my sophomore year of chemical engineering. So that's why I sort of modified the Bilateral Exchange by combining that with the University of Technology in Graz. The fact that the two schools are separate, so the University of Technology and the Liberal Arts school are distinct from one another and they're in different parts of the city. That I had not experienced, having to commute between two different schools. To attend two different schools simultaneously, that was a little different in managing their coursework.

At the technical school, there did seem to be a higher proportion of males, so it was just a different environment going there. And then during the other time, the other school was kind of half and half. The University of Technology is excellent. The support programs, specifically for technical engineering courses was phenomenal.

With the exception of one single course, all my courses were in German. In regards to lecture we also had a discussion in which we could practice with hands-on application problems. And we also had practicals where we would sort of design projects and plan those with professors, and that was very nice.

There was just a lot of depth to most of the courses that I see at Minnesota and it was nice to see again. In some classes they were running out of spaces for some students so some students who came had to stand the entire time which was a little different. I had not seen that before because at the U, if someone doesn't have a seat they'll bring you one.

The professors were, I wouldn't necessarily say friendly but they were a little more informal with the students, which I thought had both pros and cons.

Well I know with the Bilateral Exchange they're going to have that dormitory type housing. Mine was different because I did the outside study abroad program. So in that regard, I had to apply myself. The building itself was part of a monastery, it used to be. And then it was converted into housing. I lived in one floor with approximately seven roommates.

So they were all Austrian, which was really nice. Because I know sometimes exchange students are put with other exchange students. That's fine but I just wanted a greater degree of immersion. And that's what I think I got with the apartment type housing.

Learning abroad has helped me realize that the fact that we don't have some things is all right, we can deal with that. And it just makes you more appreciative of what you do have in your own country.

I've also gained a greater degree of affection for my own country by going abroad. Because some of these countries in Europe have a rather homogeneous culture. So it's very specific in regards to how many traditions they have and so forth. And when you come back, at least to Minneapolis for instance, you have this rich cultural diversity, which is something I don't think you should take for granted. And it's nice to realize that when you come back."

Check out the Learning Abroad Center's Bilateral Exchange in Graz, Austria program.