By Katie Stanley
As Roger Bacon once said, “knowledge of languages is the doorway to wisdom.” This idea is one of the core values of the UP Salzburg program: intensive language learning while living within the culture.
But it’s not enough just to live in a foreign country and take language classes—using only these two resources would make for an incomplete linguistic and cultural education. That is why we have opportunities like the “Buddy Network” at the UP Salzburg Center.
The Buddy-Network was originally a program created by the Austrian Students Union for exchange students that came to the University of Salzburg, but because of UP Salzburg’s connections with this University, we have the opportunity to take part in it as well.
It works as follows: each UP student or pair of UP students is matched with a student from the University of Salzburg. This student—a native German speaker—acts as a “buddy” to help show students around the city, practice their German, and so on. Communication starts as soon as the assignments are made, but it’s really up to the individuals as to how much interaction they have with one another.
Several students at the UP Salzburg Center have taken advantage of this opportunity so far, meeting their buddies for dinner or coffee and enjoying conversation together.
“It was tons of fun,” says German 312 student Issa Santos. “A bit daunting at first but my Buddy was super nice and I learned a bit more about what actual ‘salzburgers’ do.”
German 202 student Holly Ekstrom stated that her buddy was really friendly, and that they talked a lot about differences between universities in the US and universities in Austria. “[T]he best thing about having a buddy is that you can make friends with more locals and really immerse yourself in the culture,” she says.
In addition to the official Buddy-Program, some of the upper-level German students have found their own native “buddies” by posting introductory paragraphs in the language center of the University of Salzburg. So far, this has been a great success, as the students gain not only valuable learning experiences, but new friends as well. I know I have enjoyed just “hanging out” and doing things Austrians do, like going to the movies (in German!) or the Salzburg Haus der Natur.