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AIFS Gap Year Programs: Salzburg, Austria (Semester/Year)

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    8

A place to call home

Looking for a beautiful city? Looking for nice people? Looking for a great study abroad experience? Look no further than Salzburg, Austria. Salzburg is a small and beautiful city that is extremely easy to navigate . Salzburg was a great place to come back to after travelling around Europe on the weekend because it is quiet and relaxing. Salzburg also offers delicious food and tasty desserts. AIFS does an awesome job of taking care of their students. AIFS ensures everyone has a chance to become fully immersed in the local culture by providing tons of great excursion options inside and around Salzburg.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    8

The Best Nine Months!

Almost every single aspect of my experience studying in Salzburg with AIFS was positive!

I very much enjoyed the academic portion of the program. I found my studies to be very interesting and in many cases hands on. For example, during the semester we would go on walks throughout the city to really see in person what we were learning about. The German courses were intensive and I found that my language learning really improved during my time in Salzburg, especially because our class size was so small. Besides German, I took courses in history, art history, political science, and Austrian culture and customs.

During my time in Salzburg with AIFS, I stayed in a home stay with my host family and other AIFS students. My housing situation was very comfortable and I have so many positive memories of living with my host family and getting to experience Austrian culture. In the house we had access to the kitchen and a grocery store was just a minute walk away. In addition AIFS provides a meal card which helps a lot for budgeting with meals. My home stay was a five minute walk from the beautiful Schloss Leopoldskron (Sound of Music) and about 25 minutes from the city center and University. The public transportation is very easy to navigate in Salzburg and AIFS gave us a subsidy on our monthly transportation costs.

There is an AIFS office right in the center of Salzburg and the on-site staff is wonderful. They helped so much with the initial transition of living in Salzburg, and provided so much useful information upon our arrival. We also went on so many fun excursions with AIFS that were included in our program price, such as a pastry tasting, tours of the Salzburg mountain area and Ice Caves, FC Redbull game, trips to Vienna and Innsbruck, and an Alpine Sleigh Ride. AIFS also offered optional trips to Munich and Prague. Once we were settled in, we were very much given our independence but the staff was always there to help us.

Overall Salzburg is an extremely safe and picturesque city to live in. It is a smaller city but there is still plenty going on, from museums to historical sites to outdoor sports such as hiking and skiing. Living in Salzburg is also a great location for travelling Europe. Munich and Vienna are two very famous cities that are very close. In addition, weekend trips to the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and many beautiful Eastern European countries are all very manageable.

Overall, I would highly recommend studying abroad in Salzburg with AIFS. The program is especially great for beginner travelers, as AIFS offers a flight package which includes a London stopover where we spent three days in London and met the other people in the program before heading to Salzburg. The AIFS program was extremely comprehensive and Salzburg is a beautiful city to study in.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Best decision of my College experience

Studying abroad in Salzburg was the best decision I have ever made, hands down. I lived in Internationalles Kolleg, a dorm-style building with a kitchen about 15 minutes outside of town (by bus). There were a few other people from my program in the same building so the commute was a great way to get to know them.

Salzburg became home at the end of the program. I loved to travel during the weekends but felt at home when I was back for the week, I wouldn't have wanted to call any other place home. I was able to get to 9 countries while studying abroad since Austria is so centrally located, allowing one to take short weekend trips!

The reason I chose Austria was mainly because I wanted an original study abroad destination. I wouldn't have been able to tell you were Salzburg was located a couple of months before applying online. It was cool to hear that many of the other people in my program went thorough the same process.

I couldn't have asked for a better experience. Salzburg, you have my heart! Take chances.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    8

Salzburg

AIFS Salzburg was the perfect fit for me and I loved every minute of it. Ingrid, Nicole, and Andreas were super helpful and were there for us whenever we needed them. They were very easy to talk to and made life in Salzburg 100x easier. They also did an AMAZING job placing us with our roommates, everyone was perfect for each other! We either lived in homestays or dorms, I was in a dorm. Out of all the dorms, I was probably in the best one. About 13 other people and myself were in a dorm that was right in the middle of the city, in walking distance of everything. The rest of the students were in dorms that were outside of the city, and took busses into the city and to classes. Classes were good and fair, a little late in the day, but they did that so we wouldn't have Friday classes. I actually learned a lot in a couple classes, which I did not expect. The excursions were fun and immersed us into the culture of Austria and Europe. My favorite was probably the visit to the sausage stand! The weekend trips to Vienna and Prague were great, the Prague tour was a little long though. Everything in Salzburg closes early, but it was easy to find things to do to keep us occupied when we were there on the weekends, like Augusteiner, bars, or even just walking around old town! Salzburg is a super safe city, everyone kept to themselves and didn't bother you. I felt safe walking around alone at night (I'm a female). However if you don't want to be in a bad area or want to be extra cautious I would walk with someone else at night near the train station and the main road of bars by the Salzach on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Overall, my experience in Salzburg was great, all the positives outweighed the negatives and I would do my time there over again in a heartbeat! Before I studied abroad, I always heard that the friends you will make abroad will be life long friends. Secretly I thought that this was so cliché and friends will come and go as they usually do. I've never been more wrong in my life! The friends I made on this trip will be life long friends. I bonded with them in ways that I could never bond with my college friends from home.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

A semester in love

I studied abroad a year and half ago and I'm still heartbroken that I had to leave the city and my friends. It was hands down the best experience and choice I have ever made studying abroad in Salzburg.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

The buildup

I have been reading all of the testimonials of past participants and as I countdown the days before I leave, I am filled with joy and excitement. The living situation and stay with a host family is what I am mainly looking forward to. I believe that living with a local host families is going to be the perfect way to learn the culture first hand and explore hidden treasures that I would otherwise be exposed to without their guidance. I have contacted some of my fellow classmates and have gotten to know and begun planning our future adventures across this beautiful country. Thus far, AIFS is giving me so much to look forward to this semester abroad.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Social Life

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Academics

    10

Greatest opportunity ever!

My roommates and I had a great relationship with our guest mother and the rest of the family. We all treated each other like a part of our own close family where we used to cook delicious meals and shared with each other and so forth. Besides my home relationships, I also had a great connection with the rest of the students in the program, as well as other Salzburgers. We all took many classes with each other, traveled together throughout Europe, and even collaborated with each other to study for classes and all that good stuff.

AIFS offered a great variety of courses for me to choose from. I was able to take five courses that fit my curriculum back home to meet the core, minor, and major courses while abroad.

Big Traditional German house. I had my own room on the top floor, which I believe is the biggest room in the house. I had a bathroom right outside my door, which I share with my guest mother and her grandson. There were two other bathrooms in the house. I also had access to the kitchen at any time, as long as I clean my mess. I was able to use the patio as I pleased, living room, and so forth. I was basically never at home. I was either hanging out with friends or traveling.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Greatest opportunity EVER!

I believe that students should be very open-minded while studying abroad. I tell myself that while Austrians may not meet the American mold, similarly, I do not meet theirs and they may become frustrated of my actions and activities. Austrians are very centered in their family values and sharing with their neighbors and having a good time with their friends. Please keep in mind that Austrians don't usually bring friends over and so they don't expect you to bring your friends either. It doesn't not mean you cannot bring your friends, just ask your guest mother if its ok to bring someone over. I also advise you to try everything and don't be afraid of asking questions.

My guest mother didn't know much English. However, I was able to communicate with her through body language, translations with the help of my roommates, and with the new vocabulary he learnt in class. Do not cluster yourself in your room after class or on the weekends. There's so much to do every day, especially on the weekends when everybody get some rest and enjoy the weekend with family and friends. Go out, dance, try new food, practice your language skills with natives, learn the dialect, the accent, learn the songs...these would help you to get involved in the community and feel the sense of belonging.

Academics:
Amazing classes and professors. Great variety of courses that would help you fulfill your major, minor, language requirements.

Living Situation:
Living with a guest family was the best decision ever! I have my own room on this 4 floor house. My fellow roommates (housemates from AIFS) also had their own room. We were able to use the kitchen as many times as we wanted as long as we clean after ourselves, fridge, living room, patio, anything!

Cultural Immersion:
I learned German, at least the basic, I had friends that helped me improve my German and cultural skills. I learned so much about the country, food, social environment, and so forth.

Program Administration:
Loved the staff members!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    6

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    N/A

JUST GO!

Studying abroad with AIFS was the best decision I have ever made, especially choosing to go to Salzburg. Going to a non-English speaking country forced me to expand my horizons and look at the world from a new perspective. I gained so much independence and confidence from the whole experience.

The value of AIFS is great - there are lots of things included in the cost, such as insurance, a few weekend trips (which were awesome), housing, meal stipends, bus fare stipends, etc. It really was a great bang for the buck.

Overall, AIFS Salzburg is awesome. The staff is so helpful and welcoming, Salzburg is beautiful and such a hidden gem, the location is central for traveling, and it truly was the best experience of my life.

If you're thinking of going, JUST GO! You will not regret it. Just go.

Living Situation:
I chose to live in one of the University's dorms and my roommate was a fellow AIFS student. While I loved my roommate and our dorm, I wish it had been slightly closer to the city center. But lots of other AIFS students lived in our dorm with us so it wasn't a huge deal.

Cultural Immersion:
Because I spoke NO German when I arrived, it was difficult to immerse myself in the culture but locals were very willing to help me with my German when I tried to speak it in restaurants or stores which helped.

Program Administration:
The AIFS staff is PHENOMENAL! They truly care about each and every student that comes through. When I had tough things going on at home, Ingrid checked in on me to make sure everything was all right. They also made sure that we had all their personal numbers for emergencies and were always happy to see us when we dropped by the office.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

Choose Salzburg!

In the heart of Europe, Salzburg is perfect for nature lovers and travelers, scholars and adventurers. There are endless things to do within a day or on a weekend, as public transportation is easy to navigate, efficient, and affordable. Salzburg is a small enough city for you to get to know well even if you travel often. Make yourself familiar with the bus plans and train schedules, I recommend downloading the apps for popular or local transportation services (i.e. DeutscheBahn or MeinFernBus - both are super helpful and easy to use!)

The academic situation is positive; the Unipark where (almost) all classes are held is in a modern and beautiful glass building with a stunning study area and cafe offering panoramic views of the ancient fortress and Alpine foothills. The classes are taught in a European style, meaning there is little homework or "busy work," but you are expected to keep up with readings and discussions on your own, offering more independence than most American universities. Generally, coursework requires giving presentations and/or completing research papers. If you manage your time and assignments well, you will still be able to travel and explore Europe!

I opted for a homestay while in Austria, but unfortunately they are severely limited (less than a dozen students were placed in one). Instead, the program staff put me in an international dorm with an international roommate and things worked out perfectly! If you are hoping for a homestay, consider an international roommate for your second choice. I have established a lifelong friendship with my German roommate, and I am not sure many homestayers get the same opportunity from their placements.

Finally, my best advice is to study up on the customs and current events of Austria before you leave. While AIFS does provide a ton of useful information, it always helps to have a cultural context to maximize the experience. Also, keep in mind and be prepared for the technology gap, Austria and much of Europe is a few years behind the U.S. technology-wise, and Wi-Fi is not as easily available!

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    5

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    5

A great place to study

Salzburg has a small town feel while offering still a fantastic place to study. During the week, the town is quiet without much to do. If you are looking to focus on academics this could be a program for you. The classes are simple but informative with a very different teaching style from the Austrian Professors. Most people is Salzburg speak English and are fairly westernized so it is not the best place for cultural immersion. Overall, great place to study.

Overall Rating

6/ 10

  • Academics

    6

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

Austria is breathtaking; Learning German takes breath

My experience in Salzburg was excellent. It is a beautiful country with lots to offer in terms of cultural education - Mozart, WWII, etc. It was difficult to learn German given the Austrian accents.

Overall Rating

4/ 10

  • Social Life

    5

  • Health and Safety

    5

  • Program Administration

    5

  • Cultural Immersion

    4

  • Living Situation

    5

  • Academics

    5

Awesome

I loved my entire time in Salzburg. I lived with a family and it was the greatest idea I have ever had. I still can't wait to get back to the EU to visit family and friends. I also loved the professors and the staff. Ingrid, andreas, and other staff members. The atmosphere and the campus were also great.

Institution Affiliates:

World Youth Student & Educational Travel Confederation