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My Austrian Experience

By Jon O’Malley ’99

I spent the fall semester of 1996 in Austria. When trying to think of my favorite memory from Austria, my mind was flooded with a million different memories at once. I cannot point at one memory as the best. However, I can relate my overall memory of my Austrian experience.

Our group became one large friend group composed of about 100 people. There was little studying done by anyone but myself and a few others, and that was great. Prayer was energized by the memory of the monks who lived there hundreds of years earlier. Smiles abounded on students and professors. When struggles arose, friends came running.

For some, it was a very lonely time, but even most of them learned greatly during that time. Solitude was available at every turn. Acquaintances leaving to travel together returned as close friends. To this day, those friends I made while there are my closest friends.

Overall, it was the most joyful, most prayerful, and (for me) even a very intellectual semester. I grew more there than I remember growing elsewhere, and I only hope that many other people will have the opportunity to experience what I did while in Austria.

P.S. I am not being paid by FUS to write this letter (although I probably should be).

Jon O’Malley ’99 works as a leadership team coach/Pinnacle Business Guide with entrepreneurial companies’ C suite teams. He is married to the amazing Maria O’Malley, has 11 wonderful kids, and lives in beautiful Stillwater, Minnesota.