University of San Francisco.
The program was unusual in that it was an entire year instead of a single semester, and in that we were matriculated directly into the University of Innsbruck (founded in 1669) and an associated Jesuit philosophy program. That meant all of our classes (and oral exams at the end of the semester) were exclusively in German.
There were two other men from USF in the program that year, and we all lived in a Jesuit-run international seminary for future diocesan priests known as the Canisianum. We were the only three laymen residents.
The first couple of months were very rough. All the usual stabilizers of life — language, cuisine, culture, hygiene standards, sartorial customs, theological presuppositions, a general assumption that America is and has been a force for good in the world, and even what constitutes a funny joke — were stripped away, leaving us not only to struggle to adapt to all the newness but also to view ourselves in the most unvarnished and honest way that we ever had. It wasn't always a pretty process. But somehow it worked. The last several months were heaven. We had made good friends with other students and we were so proficient in German that we were dreaming in it and speaking it without self-consciousness. Even the year-end oral exams in German weren't so bad.
I thought of that year again in the past week as we have pulled together for OSV Newsweekly a special section on overseas programs offered by Catholic universities and colleges in the United States.
Do you have an experience you'd like to share? Let me know in the comments. I'd like to print a selection of your testimonials in the newspaper.