If someone had told me in college that I would spend the majority of the decade ahead in Vienna, Austria, I would have thought they were crazy. Born in Rosario, Argentina, and raised in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, I grew up speaking Spanish and English. I also studied French from middle school onward, encouraged by my Francophile mother, and I had considered learning Italian because of my family’s Italian heritage. German, on the other hand, had never been of any interest to me. Cold. Harsh. Abrasive. These were the words that came to mind when I thought of not only the German language but also German and Austrian culture and people. Things I honestly knew almost nothing about and had very little exposure to. What I did know about Austria was confined to a brief study of World War II in high-school World History and the movie The Sound of Music—an iconic film that, ironically, most Austrians have never even seen. My college counselor and mentor had encouraged me to apply for the Diplomatic Academy-Fulbright award focused on international studies, and my passion for learning and adventure led me to pursue it.
By Maria Alejandra Baetti
In the United States, being trilingual was quite a rarity, and people were often impressed by that. But in my classes at the DA, there were people who could speak five, six, even seven languages!
There are so many things that the US could learn from Austria and Austria from the US.