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A Semester in Salzburg

02/20/2013

Looking across the Alps on a recent ski jaunt, Melody Rolph '14 of Francestown, N.H., realized that she could not possibly take a photo that would fully convey the beauty she saw before her.

"The weather was perfect, the snow was wonderful, and everywhere I stopped I could see the mountains for miles," she said. "The mountains are enormous, jagged and full of life. It has been my goal to ski the Alps for quite some time now, and it is everything I thought it would be, and more."

Rolph is studying abroad this semester in Salzburg, Austria. Although the arts management and fine and performing arts double major learned to speak German through an advanced placement program in high school, she also takes private lessons three times a week to help improve her fluency in the language. And, because her host family speaks very little English, she's been getting plenty of practice.

"I really enjoy learning languages, but it certainly takes a lot of time, patience and importantly cultural immersion," she said. "The German in Austria is quite different from the German in Germany, thus I have been learning some new words and a different dialect."

In addition to German, Rolph also speaks Romanian, after having spent a year in Romania following her senior year of high school. It was there that Rolph decided she wanted to study in Austria.

"All of the exchange students went on a Euro tour in which we spent a day in Vienna, Austria," she explained. "Within one hour I knew I needed to go back...so I did! Everything here is perfect to me. The food is wonderful, fresh and organic. There is a plentiful history, beautiful architecture, breathing art in the streets, and, in general, a wonderful, appreciated environment. The people are friendly and a little reserved, but very punctual and like to have a good time."

Rolph, who loves to ski and hike, is enjoying the Austrian terrain - two-thirds of which is covered by the Alps. When she's not out on a mountain, her program at Salzburg College allows for weekly immersion into the culture as she earns college credits.

Traveling, Rolph said, always enhances one's learning experience.

"I am currently taking a class called 'Understanding Austria,' where I learn about Austria's entire history and take excursions to all of the places we learn about. It is one thing to learn from a lecture, but it is a whole other experience to go to the place you were learning about."

She spent a recent weekend in Prague, in the Czech Republic after preparing herself for what she was to see.

"I researched the city ahead of time, found out where museums and monuments were and learned a great deal from just two days. It takes a while to learn how to travel, but once you know how you can learn how to get the most out of it," she said.

In addition to classes in "Understanding Austria" and "Intermediate German," Rolph is taking voice lessons this quarter. Next quarter she will study "The History of European Art," an independent study called "The Mozart Project," as well as a course in "Austrian Cuisine," where she will learn how to make traditional Austrian dishes.

"I wake up feeling so happy every day," she said.

To read more about Rolph's Austrian adventure, go to her blog at http://melodyinsalzburg.blogspot.co.at/2013/02/salzburg-perfect-place-to-live.html .