Conner Lachine, Fall 2015
I live on the south side of Salzburg with about 1/3 of my group, so a fifteen minute bus ride is required to reach any place in town. Unipark, the plaza where most of my classes are held, is three bus stops towards city center from my building. The walk to my bus stop, the bus ride to the university stop, and walk to Unipark all together is a thirty minute commute. I found that riding a bike it takes only twenty minutes, so when weather permits, which is usually twice a week if I am lucky, I ride my bike to class. The bike relieves me of riding the hot and crowded city bus, which is efficient and clean, but the morning bike ride is refreshing and allows me to choose one of many scenic routes to class. The south side of Salzburg is a commercial and residential area so I do not pass any of the 12th century buildings like Mozart’s house in city center, but I have the opportunity to see the “real” Salzburg, where the city residents live, shop, etc.
I live in a dorm style building in a neighborhood with several similar buildings. All about five stories tall and house roughly 150 people, most of whom are students of the University of Salzburg. The most exciting difference between living here and HSC is the student diversity. My next door neighbors are from Italy and Iran; across the hall are two girls from China. Another different aspect to the dorm is a large communal kitchen where everyone on the hall cooks. Cooking together has been an easy conversation starter and has given me an intimate perspective of cultures I never would have encountered at HSC. Sausage is one of my favorite foods, right now. Austrian cuisine is made up almost entirely of sausage, bread, and beer. It is not just a funny stereotype. Other than a diverse student population and communal space the dorm is very similar to any dorm in the US. I share a room with one guy from my program and have very similar accommodations to housing at Hampden-Sydney.
Packing was a struggle between being prepared and packing light, which was a unanimous recommendation. I only packed clothes, lots of cold weather clothes. Although the weather has not been vastly different than Virginia’s, I expect it to turn quickly as Salzburg does sit along the western side of the Alps. There is a gargantuan IKEA where Pete, my roommate, and I have purchased most of our home décor.
The typical twenty-somethings in Western Europe dress very similarly to each other. It is much more formal compared to how the average student dresses in the US. A little more fashionable. No shorts. Always presentable. It is frowned upon to walk around my building in sweats.
Other than using the 24 hour clock there is not much difference in how we view time in the US. Shops close a little earlier. It is rare to find a shop open past five or six during the week, even convenience stores and CVS-type businesses. On Sundays 95% of Salzburg is closed. Grocery stores, mom & pop shops, even the mall is entirely closed on Sundays.