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  • Writer's pictureSean Friel

HHS alum Grace Haley studying abroad

For many people, traveling to a new location can be a scary thought. The uncertainty and unknown can bring anyone to a state of panic, but not Grace Haley. A 2019 Hammonton High School alum, Haley now attends Rowan University, where she had the chance to study abroad. Enticed about learning German while studying abroad, Haley decided to take the leap and go to a new location she had never been before. Settling in Austria for the next few months, Haley expects to have some new experiences to tell her friends back home.

“I’ve always thought about studying abroad, even when I was in high school. Back then my parents wouldn’t let me because I was too young, but we have family in Germany. I feel like it’s really important to branch out and get involved in different cultures if the opportunity arises,” Haley said.

By studying the different cultures, Haley feels she can connect with others in foreign countries and possibly discover some family history. Haley decided on traveling to Austria for her studying abroad, hoping to challenge herself intellectually, but also her comfort levels.

“I didn’t want to go to Germany. I wanted to branch out and go somewhere else that is more out of my comfort zone,” Haley said.

Haley explained that branching out would allow her to become comfortable alone and that she could only rely on herself. Taking a risk, Haley left her family and pets behind to further educate and challenge herself. In the time that Haley has been in Austria, she finds that she has not had a lot of time to take a moment to feel sad about not being around her family.

“It’s definitely fun, but I haven’t had a lot of time to be sad now that I’m away from home… I’m always busy here,” Haley said.

Haley does miss her bed at home however, as the bed she currently sleeps on has a 4” mattress pad. Haley said that sometimes she wakes up in pain and definitely wants a new mattress topper.

While in Austria, Haley has found that the culture is very different from the culture in the United States.

“I got here on a Sunday and wanted to go grocery shopping. Everything was closed, I couldn’t get any goods. I went the first day without eating. In New Jersey, or anywhere in the U.S., if you’re really hungry at 4 a.m. you can just go to Wawa and get a sandwich. Here you can’t.

They seem to value life outside of work more than we might in the states. Everything in the states is like, I want this now, I’m going to get it now. Here, it’s more like you value your time.

It’s more about time management and respecting other people’s time as well,” Haley said.

Haley continued her thoughts, saying that in Austria, many people are more reserved in their day to day lives than in the United States.

“Unless they’re drinking, they’re more reserved and you don’t just have a random conversation with anybody,” Haley said.

Haley found many challenges with her first few weeks in Austria, including grocery shopping, public transit and trying to fit in. She laughed, explaining the image of Americans to the Austrian people.

“The biggest thing is making sure I don’t stand out as a typical American. Americans are viewed here as being quite loud, sometimes obnoxious. I try my best to blend in,” Haley said.

With her studies being the German language, Haley has tried on multiple occasions to speak to the community members in Austria, with hopes of refining her skills. She claims that the community members respect the interaction and try to help.

“Usually they really appreciate it if you try at least. It’s a very harsh language, a very literal language, and the grammar is tough to learn. As long as you’re putting yourself out there and you’re trying, they’re very respectful of it. A lot of people do speak English, I feel like they’re more receptive to try to speak in English to you if you at least try with them,” Haley said.

The language itself can be very tricky, Haley explained, including the formality. She said that there is a formal way to say “you” in German and an informal way to say “you.”

“If you use the wrong ‘you’ it can be very rude,” Haley said.

With her time in Austria so far, Haley has documented her own moving process, as well as her adventures, via vlogs on YouTube. A vlog is defined as a video blog, or rather a way for viewers to take a glimpse inside of someone’s life. Haley explained that she had recently uploaded a vlog about Oktoberfest, a huge tradition in German culture, to document her time there and her experience. Interested viewers can find her YouTube page by searching up Grace Haley, where they can find her vlogs and uploads.


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