2016Oct 24

Student Profile: Jennifer and Dania Arrive in Austria

14671343_10210505216844476_7860131875434533149_nLast year we spoke with SPAD students Jennifer Thomas and Dania Johanson who were chosen to be SPAD’s first ever exchange students. Jennifer and Dania have now settled down in Austria and have taken the time to chat with us about everything they’ve experienced since landing in Kufstein on September 27th.

SB: Being in another country who’s native tongue is so different from ours, do you find that there is a language barrier?

 

JT: We go to an International School that teaches its classes in English so everyone in the university knows how to speak the language to varying degrees. Though, for most people it isn’t their first language. When we speak in class our professors ask us to slow down because we’re speaking too fast.

 

DJ: In town it isn’t too bad. When we first landed, we went into town looking for amenities and it was really hard trying to communicate with people and find what we wanted. Most people know at least some basic English or have co-workers who can, and we eventually figure it all out.

 

We are trying to pick up on some of the language. We have learned some basic phrases and words such as “how are you” and “My name is Dania” but there are some sounds that we struggle to pronounce. Our favourite word is “Fachhochschule”, which is equivalent to the word University in English.

 

SB: What’s the coolest part of being at an international school?

 

JT and DJ: There are so many people from so many different countries. Our core group of friends consists of people from Finland, France, and Australia and we socialize more with people who can speak English fluently. It’s the same way for other people, most people hang around with the people who share their first language but not exclusively. Everyone is interested in each other’s cultures because we are all so different, we joke around and make fun of each other. There are lots of stereotypes; one of our friends keeps saying we’re from Nova Scotia.

 

SB: Culture has been said to have an affect on people’s preference in sport. How do you think this has affected your discussions in class?

 

JT: In class the other day we were talking about events and I used the World Cup of Hockey as an example and our whole class bursted out laughing. They make fun of us and hockey all of the time. Europeans have a lot of love for soccer so it’s what most people talk about.

 

SB: What is your overall class structure like for this year?

 

JT and DJ: Our first semester started in October and will end in February, although we will be home for a couple weeks for Christmas. After this semester, we have four weeks off in which we plan on backpacking around Europe. Our second semester starts in March and ends in July.

Our class schedule is very different than the one’s we would have at Laurentian. We never have a week with the same schedule, there could be a week when we have the same class Monday to Friday and then we end with an exam on the Saturday, others we have every couple of weeks.

 

SB: What is your favourite class?

 

JT and DJ: Austrian History and Culture. It’s a Saturday class and we basically go to different historic locations in Austria. The first week we went to the fortress that’s located in Kufstein, we can actually see it from our window. Tomorrow we’re going to Innsbruck, and in a couple of weeks were going to Salzburg. We get to see so many different cultures, the cities are so close together but they have such different cultures because of their differing history. It’s interesting because Austria’s history is so much older than Canada’s history; it’s all very new to us.

 

SB: What’s the best place you’ve been so far?

 

JT and DJ: Neuschwanstein Castle was awesome and the most impressive. It looked like something out of a story and was the castle that Disney first based their animated castles off of. Everything about it was surreal.

On the other hand, we went to a concentration camp in Germany and it was really eye opening. We felt weird the whole day after. The whole situation made us feel so emotional. People were crying and no one spoke. We just walked around and paid our respects.

 

SB: What is the best piece of advice you would give the Austrian exchange students that have joined SPAD in Sudbury for the year?

 

JT and DJ: Attend and join as many extra curricular activities as possible throughout Laurentian and the Sudbury community. At FH Kufstein, they don’t have structured intramurals like Laurentian does so they should take advantage of Laurentian’s and really get involved in the school, make the best of your time there.

 

SB: What’s the first thing you’ll do when you land in Canada?

 

DJ: I’m going to get the biggest coffee I can from Tim Horton’s.

 

JT: I’m going to get an iced capp made with chocolate milk.

 

SPAD would like to thank Jennifer and Dania for taking the time to speak with us and share their experiences. We wish them the best of luck in all of their endeavors abroad and look forward to seeing them back in Sudbury next year.

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