Hi there! My name is Ashley Arensberg and I am a junior here at East Carolina University, and from Mooresville, NC. I am studying Architectural Design with a minor in Urban and Regional Planning. My urge to study abroad stemmed from the constant traveling and moving from state to state all my life. I wanted to experience something different from all the other experiences I have had.

Where did you study abroad?
I studied at Karl-Franzens Universität in Graz, Austria. While there, I took classes that transferred to both my major and to the general education classes needed to graduate. My two favorite classes were my Ancient Architectural Remains class and my Venetian Artists class. These two appealed to me the most since both helped my presentation skills while also challenging me educationally. All of my classes were seminars, which was also a big change to what I have been used to from my college experience.

What is your favorite memory from your time abroad?
My favorite memory from my time abroad was when I went on a Klettersteig course through my university’s sports program. The English translation is Via Ferrata, which means “By Iron Way”. We went out Friday night to the town of Kötschach-Mauthen, which is a town in the state of Carinthia in Austria, and left to go back to Graz on Sunday. We did two of these Via Ferrata course throughout the three days we were there. This was my favorite trip because I got to meet 16 new people, work on my German, and get to do some climbing in the Austrian Alps and the Italian Dolomites.

How has studying abroad helped your personal or professional life?
By being the only person from ECU to go to Austria, I didn’t know I single person going into it. This was a scary thing to think, but it forced me to come out of my shell and talk to people to make friends. I have transferred this to my personal and professional life because I feel like I can easily go up any person and have a conversation. It has also helped with my confidence in making decisions both on a person and professional level. One instance I can think of is with my job as an intramural referee for ECU since this has definitely helped with the calls that I make in games.

What advice can you offer to students who are interested in study abroad?
Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and choose a place that you might have never thought of going to. Of course do your research on all possible options that you are looking into (and ones that show interest), but you never want to regret a possibility to go to a unique place that you would have never thought of. It is perfectly okay to be nervous and feel uncertain about things. Just know that these nerves will turn to excitement as you enter your new school/location and begin to explore.

Do you have any future plans or ideas to travel abroad again?
I can fully say 100% that I do plan on traveling abroad again. This whole experience has opened my mind to other amazing people and places to develop myself and my talents. I truly believe that traveling has helped me realize the important things in life and what I want from this world and my life. I really plan to go back abroad to not just visit friends that I made, but to also have the opportunity to either further my education or to look for internships.

E-mail if you have questions for Ashley.