We hope you’ve been following Bachelor of Public Relations student Stephanie MacIntosh on her adventures in Austria this year. In case you haven’t, you can read her previous posts here and here.

In short – she’s having the time of her life on exchange at the FHWien der WKW, University of Applied Sciences in Vienna. She’s getting a taste (quite literally!) of life in Europe and taking courses towards her Mount degree at the same time. It’s a win-win. Read on for her latest update.

From Steph:

View of Vienna
Studying abroad doesn’t just let you travel and meet new friends, it’s life-changing. After three months of studying in Austria, I can tell you that you have almost everything to gain and nothing to lose. Here are five of the many benefits of participating in the Mount Study Abroad Program:

1. Develop your cultural sensitivity

Understanding the world around you, learning how academics work in other parts of the world, and understanding what parts of your life are affected by cultural norms are all part of raising your cultural awareness. Before traveling, I never questioned how I should greet people, what hour I eat my supper, or how popular peanut butter is in North America. These are all things that are defined by cultural norms that you often don’t notice until someone questions it (or until you can’t make a PB&J). (Photo at right: View of Vienna from Lainzer Tiergarden)

2. Broaden your views and take more risks

Interacting with new and diverse groups of people gives you no choice but to step out of your comfort zone. Trying new foods and exploring new places is something that you quickly get used to, and the feeling of always being a little uncomfortable is something that you adapt to. Even when something goes wrong, you will learn along the way. I’ve discovered that feeling awkward or uneasy about things doesn’t mean that they should be avoided. It means they should be embraced.

3. Be immersed in another language

Bilingualism or trilingualism is associated with memory improvement, having a longer attention span, and a whole bunch of other cognitive benefits. It also means that you are able to order your own food at a restaurant. Although most Austrians are more or less fluent in English, it makes a difference to put in an effort to greet a storekeeper with “grüß Gott” or thank a cashier by saying “danke”.

Salzburg Austria
Salzburg, Austria

4. Networking opportunities

Of course, you get to meet and bond with new friends, but going abroad allows you to make connections around the world that have the potential to further your career and professional development. My communications and management school has allowed me to connect with students and professors who have the same interests as me. Growing your circle with these connections is a big international advantage. It’s also really easy to do when you’re surrounded by others in your field.

5. Helps you learn in the classroom

Steph in Brussels

It has been proven time and time again that students who have studied abroad have improved academic performance upon returning to their home countries. Travel not only provides you with new experiences and practical learning, you can also count on improving in the classroom.

Studying internationally has been such an amazing experience so far. I’ve traveled to seven other countries, met people from five continents. I have had experiences I thought I could only dream about. Although it will be difficult to leave my new life here, I’ll be back in Canada in July, and I’ll have even more to share. (Photo above: Steph in Brussels, Belgium)

Interested in studying abroad? The Mount has partnerships with 19 universities around the world – from France and Estonia to Kenya and Mexico, and many points in between. Learn more »