Alumni Impressions

Begin of page section: Contents:

Jarrel DeMatas, Trinidad and Tobago, Summer School Participant 2016


My Gusegg; A Series of Fortunate Events

My GUSEGG experience has been one to treasure;

From the hassle of travelling but even that was a pleasure,

For someone who had never travelled by train;

I knew that after this experience I would have a lot to gain.


After reaching Seggau castle I was awe-struck by what I had seen;

The view was amazing and the surrounding; pristine,

I was ushered to my room and made a bee-line for the bed;

Exhausted and relieved that I had made it to GUSEGG.


At first I was timid, no friends and in a strange land;

But I finally came up with a master-plan,

I signed up for all activities, my timetable was crammed;

Sports, karaoke, castle tours, and science slam.


Of all the events what I enjoyed the most;

Was meeting new people from all over the globe,

Two weeks of intellectual exchange and culture on show

I was grateful for the chance to represent Trinidad and Tobago.


But very little can beat the amazing food;

At least two rounds at the buffet was my personal rule!

How happy I was for during the second week;

An exercise program was introduced; by the pool we would meet.


The schedule was packed, very little time to rest;

But as far as Summer Schools go this was one of the best,

It’s been an incredible experience and I’ve made new friends;

If I had the chance to do it all over, I would gladly do so again.

Erin Yunes, Canada, Summer School Participant 2016


Thank you very much for the opportunity to attend GUSEGG 2016. It is an experience that I believe every student should have. The morning lectures expanded my understanding of the world. Listening to the amazing faculty challenged me to both consider a variety of critical issues in the international landscape as well as forced me to reflect on my own limitations and vision. The seminars in the afternoon were focused on my interests. Although the smaller classes were hard work, my classmates and I created a comfortable environment of dialogue and exchange. The academic quick fix and sound writing workshop helped me to construct my writing in a different way. My thought process is now dedicated to research design and considering what readers want to know and what they need to know.

Although the academics were amazing, the most rewarding aspect of GUSEGG was getting to know the other students. The summer school setting is one of the only experiences I have had learning in a wide range of academic levels. As a 4th year PhD I tend to be exclusively with students who are strictly focused on research. Being able to collaborate with incredibly smart and compassionate bachelors and masters students from across the world helped me to consider issues from a variety of perspectives. Although it is sad to leave this inspiring community I will keep the lessons I learned at Seggau Castle with me for the rest of my life.

Thank you again for this amazing opportunity. I hope I have a chance to study in Austria again.



Matthew Alexander Cline, USA, Summer School Participant 2016


If someone was going to tell me six months ago that the Graz International Summer School would be transformative life experience, I would be dubious. Coming from a small university town in rural Georgia to the bustling, energetic, and cultured city of Graz, Austria, seemed to be a dream come true! However, when Eva Trinkaus presented passionately about the GUSEGG program to the incoming international students at the University of Graz, I was swayed to apply. It seem to be a way to kill time before my short study abroad program in Berlin, while also a place to work on my undergraduate thesis in History. To my greater surprise, I was accepted to the program, and, little to my knowledge, going to enter one of the most transformative periods of my life! GUSEGG introduced me to the greater academic world, from its great diversity of perspectives, beliefs, and personal identities. Student body are some of the most open-minded individuals I have ever met, engaging and challenging some of the most dynamic issues the world faces. Subjects like Gender Relations, Social Inequality, and Wealth Disparity spark heated debates that often confronted my own original establish beliefs on these sensitive issues. However, despite are differences, we transgress into state of common unity for the desire to change the world we live and continue the pursuit of new knowledge. Outside the lectures and seminar courses, the students and faculty nurtured life changing experiences. It was amazing to see how traditional academic power relation was lax to encourage full intellectual dialogue, many of which are establishing future scholarly research.

Perhaps the lasting effect for me was restoring my sense of trust, knowing that there are people who shared some of the same personal challenges that I was confronted with in both the United States and in Austria! Having the opportunity to connect with the other international students provided a sense of inclusivity, something of which we are often denied when we are part of the scholarly world. To be part of the sharing in the life stories of others, both positive and tragic, left a deep mark in realizing that we are not all the same. In fact, GUSEGG brought us all into a new special community that shall having lasting impact in are life journeys. To quote the musical line of famous American Broadway show, Hamilton, in its song “My Shot”, reflects the impact how young revolutionary scholars and leaders can have lasting influence on the world we live in; “This is not a moment, it’s the movement. Where all the hungriest brothers with something to prove went? Foes opposes us, we take an honest stand. We roll like Moses, claimin’ our promise land. And? If we win our independence? Is that a guarantee of freedom for our descendants?” In the same way, we, as students of the Graz International Summer School, have the same chance to define and alter the communities, countries, and greater world from knowledge and passion from this amazing program!           



Nuria Mina Riera, Spain, Summer School Participant 2016


Seventy-four students and over thirty highly-qualified lecturers from twenty-nine nations shared a fortnight of both knowledge and personal experiences at charming Seggau Castle, from July 3rd to July 17th 2016. Throughout these two weeks, students have been exposed to a wide variety of academic perspectives regarding the issues of transformation, transgression and trust. As originally expected, the Gusegg experience has successfully achieved to broaden our minds as both students and individuals by means of both morning lectures on history, economics, feminism, ageing studies, sustainability and law, to name but a few, and afternoon seminar modules which focused on and deepened into such topics. What is more, students have been encouraged to transform their mindsets by means of considering interdisciplinary modes of thinking, as promoted by the dot group discussions, in which students from different fields of study joined to formulate questions and comments to the lecturers. In addition, the summer school also offers the possibility of presenting the students' research to the community by means of the academic poster presentations. Once the summer school finishes, students can also write a seminar paper related to the afternoon seminar they have attended in order to both further their knowledge and to practice their academic writing skills.

Nevertheless, the scope of this summer school reaches much beyond regular class-based knowledge teaching. In my view, the participants in the Gusegg summer school form a well-bonded community, which benefits from its multicultural, multilingual and multiracial ensemble of both lecturers and students, as well as the interconnected, though ample, fields of study included. One of the most relevant facts that foster such a sense of community is the readily availability of the professors to discuss any academic issues, as well as to provide aid in the personal research interests of the students. Moreover, Gusegg's success at bringing different peoples together also lies in the non-academic activities organized, namely meditation and running with the professors in the mornings; several sport competitions; evening activities, such as karaoke, film viewing and the hilarious international presentations; competitions, such as the science slam; an excursion to Graz and to Maribor (Slovenia); and last but not least, relaxing late evening time spent at the tavern. 

All in all, the Gusegg Summer School is a unique experience which any student can benefit from because of its thought provoking discussions and the long-lasting friendships formed.



Carly McAskill, Canada, Summer School Participant in 2016


The Graz International Summer School Seggau (GUSEGG) 2016 (“Transformation, Transgressions, and Trust in Europe and the Americas”) was an extraordinary experience that deepened my understanding of current European and international affairs within the context of transformation, transgression and trust. It was an unforgettable experience that truly impacted who I am as a researcher and has made me very interested in how we can create and facilitate interdisciplinary platforms where complex issues can be discussed in inclusive and cooperative environments. Through the keynote lectures, seminar modules, networking opportunities, presentations, field trips, panel and small group discussions, I had the pleasure of reflecting on aspects of individual, social, political, religious, cultural, literary, regional, economic, cohort and national identities. Overall, GUSEGG helped me to connect with academic fields in order to transcend boundaries and empowered me to deepen how I address the challenges in my life as a woman, researcher, artist and teacher.

In the Aging, Communication and Technology seminar (Ageing with Technology: “Digitally Ageing/Digital Ageism”) professors Dr. Kim Sawchuk, Dr. Line Grenier and Dr. Stephen Katz led my classmates and I through an interdisciplinary approach which considers the “art of ageing” in connection to computer-mediated communications and networked societies. Using insights of critical ageing studies scholars in Europe and the Americas, we learned about the predominance of “decline narratives” associated with ageing and ethnographies with older adults. This experience inspired me to contemplate and develop my responses through interdisciplinary analyses. Additionally, the seminar contributed to my knowledge on theories of media, mediation and mediatization.

As a new PhD student in Communication Studies at Concordia University working under the supervision of Dr. Sawchuk (director of the ACT Project at Concordia University), the privilege of attending GUSEGG provided me with a very unique opportunity to bond with my supervisor as well as make strong connections and friendships with other researchers in the aging, communication and technology fields. Some of my favorite memories include: being able to use my bold personality and sense of fun to be the master of ceremonies for the International Presentations and co-hosting karaoke with Dr. Peter Goggin.

A few very special moments of the summer school experience have remained with me. While sitting on the terrasse at Seggau Castle with Dr. Sawchuk, she said to me, “Carly, I am happy you are here.” At the time, we were admiring the beautiful view with some delicious wine in hand. Similarly, it puts a smile on my face to think back to busting a dance move with Dr. Grenier on the dance floor during our final night at GUSEGG. As well, to remember Dr. Katz’s caring gesture as he gave me two pieces of paper full of the resources he had hand written with, what he called, “my dementia starter kit.”

Currently, the strong connections I made with fellow researchers continue to develop with the conversations we are having about our applications for the European Network in Aging Studies (ENAS) Conference in April 2017. Ultimately, GUSEGG was an invaluable experience that has impacted who I am as a woman and deepened my commitment to interdisciplinary research. Thank you to the ACT Project, Dr. Sawchuk, Dr. Grenier, Dr. Katz; the Seminar 06: Aging, Communication and Technology members; the GUSEGG team; the Seggau staff; and fellow summer school attendees for making my experience so incredible. I hope to see you all soon and wish you all peace in your life, love in your heart and success in your goals. 



Anca Elena Ursu, Italy, Summer School Participant 2014

I had no expectation to fulfill before arriving at the Seggau Castle in July 2014. I have applied for the summer school with the feeling I could get a great experience, but then, the seminar I have applied for was at the extreme pole of what my field of studies is. As a law student, the term literature has a different meaning than its regular acceptation: it means codes and cases. Surely, not stories and narratives; no deconstruction, no personal interpretation. Therefore, the seminar Literature of Transformation has been an incredible challenge and a sophisticated way to come back to a passion of mine: reading.

The seminar split into two parts, each of one week, focused on so many topics in such an intense manner I could never give account of them in a one page report. During the first week, we enquired national literatures. Each classmate had to bring a representative story of his/her native country. And so, we travelled from Romania to Austria through Hungary, from Macedonia to Croatia through Serbia and Kosovo and from Russia back to Austria where we all met. We tried to deconstruct the process of reading and to deeply understand why we start associating characters with ourselves, why we do interpret and why is it so hard to objectively read a narration. During the second week, we thought we would limit our horizon to a less broad topic but as a matter of fact we opened Pandora’s box, namely the Jewish migration from Europe to the US. We embraced the spirit of curiosity and we dug into history, literature, cinema, cartoons, fiction and reality, representations, myths, prejudices and facts. We discovered new thrilling stories we never thought could exist, we shared thoughts and had great talks and debates. 

I wish we had more time to merge these two weeks together with the three professors but I guess, this was up to us through our seminar paper. If I am to evaluate this seminar, I would simply say that everybody, from no matter what field, should have such an academic experience. It brings new dimensions to one’s knowledge but what is more relevant, it teaches you to raise questions, once again. Thank you for this great awakening.

Maria P. Waclawik, Poland, Summer School Participant 2008

In 2008 I attended the Summer School "Under Deconstruction: How American are the Americas?" under the Utrecht Network Scholarship which I received as a Jagiellonian University student. The opportunity to participate in the Summer School extended my knowledge on the subject of my academic studies and provided me with the new perspectives on different issues and concerns affecting the Americas.The excellent organization of the Summer School, the friendly atmosphere and the stimulating international environment as well as the natural beauty of the area are particularly worth mentioning.I am very grateful to the organization staff, the professors and my co-participants, who all made this event such an interesting experience. Looking back at those days now, I must say the Summer School was a real journey of discovery.

Diana Stiuliuc, Romania, Summer School Participant 2008

The Summer School experience from 2008 was for me a unique, fruitful experience, since I generally enjoy working and sharing my ideas with students and professors from all over the world, in multicultural environments. I really appreciated the academic staff of the University of Graz for their professional organization of the program, for the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of the whole event and for the various activities which made my staying in Seggau very enjoyable. Moreover, the "melting-pot" -like laboratory of working minds during the lectures and seminars gave me interesting material and new ideas of research for my future Ph. D. thesis. It was an experience I would never forget and, therefore, I'm planning to come to Seggau in 2010 as well.´

Note from the organizers: AND SHE DID COME in 2010!

Matteo Fiorio, Italy, Summer School Participant 2008

Two years ago, I was selected from the University of Bologna (Italy) and the University of Graz (Austria) to attend the Summer School program ran by the Center for the Study of the Americas of the University of Graz studying the topic "Under Deconstruction: How American are the Americas?" which took place from July 13th-27th, 2008.

The summer program has allowed me to explore from a different perspective the politics, law and history of this continent, that in our globalised society have lost many of its typical elements of distinctions. The focus of the theme on America's identity was also an opportunity to understand the effect of the recent "war on terror" and if it still reflects the view of the American society. Another interesting part of the program was the opportunity to experience directly on the grounds of a multinational environment, the approaching such program in a broad international and interethnic point of view.

This summer school program has been a multicultural and multiethnic laboratory of remarkable academic relevance where I had the chance to discuss and comment on a specific social, cultural and political reality typical of the Amerias. Gaining knowledge through analysis and evaluation of skills, which are of immense importance in the current political scene.

Emron Esplin

  • Assistant Professor of English and American Studies, Kennesaw State University, USA
  • Summer School Faculty 2009, Literature module

C.SAS's summer school on the Americas offers students and faculty a unique opportunity to break down the equation "America = USA." I try to do this in my scholarship and in my typical classroom setting, but the summer school provides an ideal venue for re-approaching the Americas since scholars and students from throughout Europe and the Americas gather together in one place and spend two weeks dedicating their time and thought to this effort. I highly recommend C.SAS's international summer school on the Americas to anyone who is invested in inter-American studies, in American studies broadly defined, and to scholars and students in Canadian, Latin American, or U.S. studies who would like to enrich their work by placing it within an international context.

Ivan Grycuk, Brazil, Summer School Participant 2009

The 2009 "Nuestra America" Summer School was an amazing experience for me, from the summer school itself to the teachers, staff, and other participants. The place was also very well chosen, the Seggau Castle was the perfect venue for the event.

For me, personally, the Summer School experience was a turning point in the way I see the world. There were people from all over the globe and the mixing of all those people, cultures and lines of thinking in only one place, getting to know each other, making comments about the lectures, talking to the teachers and finding enough time to party and watch great movies is something you don't usually see. I highly recommend it!! It was great!!

Andreja Šarić, Croatia, Summer School Participant 2010

"Summer School in Seggau 2010 was a special experience for me, not just because I've met many wonderful people from all over the Europe, improved and exchanged my knowledge in different areas and subjects, and enjoyed in impressive Seggau Castle, it is because those 2 weeks definitely fullfilled the main topic of the School: „United in diversity“. Different people from different national territories confirmed that together they can start to see problems from past in the new bright light of the future." 

Bojana Rauker, Slovenia, Summer School Participant 2009

What I can say about Summer School 2009 is: ''I would do it all over again''. From the beginning till the end the whole experience was worth every single day. It wasn't only the Seggau Castle, where the Summer School took place, that gave beautiful atmosphere to the whole event, but it was more then this. Meeting participants from all over the world, hearing lecturers from various professors and opening a discussion with them, an amazing staff, relaxing evening events, movies All of this made the experience worth remembering. Different people from different countries and with different cultures were brought together in this 2 week period where we worked as a team - as we did while making a movie. Summer School is amazing opportunity to learn something more, to open yourself to new people and to go home richer for one big experience!

Don’t think, just apply. You won’t regret. I don’t. 

Artyom Kocharyan, Armenia, Summer School Participant 2010

“If for someone studying is a heavy load. In this school, you will completely change your idea of studying and professors. For sure, All will enjoy the beauty and historical charm of Seggauberg and interesting discussions with Professors...”

Hólmfríður Garðarsdóttir

  • Associate Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies, University of Iceland, Iceland
  • Summer School Faculty 2008, 2009 and 2010, Film & Society module

Participating in the summer school on „the Americas“ for the last three years has been an extremely rewarding experience. Having the opportunity every summer to meet with countless people –staff, students and other professors - interested in the reformulation of ideas, concepts and terminology has been an interesting challenge. To promote the deconstruction of stereotypical images of life and living in the Americas, amongst the multi-nationally composed student population at the summer school, has been an exciting process of discovery. I truly look forward to the next summer school of 2011. Now it‘s your turn, - hope to see you there!

Vladan Petković, Serbia, Summer School Participant 2010

''Meditation in the morning for those who are interested. Hard work. And a swimming-pool waiting... Different cultures – Common aims. Beautiful surroundings - New knowledge. Early mornings - Summer nights. New friends or even a girlfriend. Amusing - but demanding. Enriching - but also doubt arising. Diversities manage to sit together at Seggau castle."

Tea Lovšin, Slovenia, Summer School Participant 2009

I have really nice memories of that summer school :))

I have gained new knowledge from the subject which I also study in Ljubljana and I think it was really important for me to get that new knowledge from foreign professors which means - from new perspective. The debates which evolved thorough our module also gave me some material for my work at home university. But what I liked most of all was that I met new friends from Europe and from the Americas :) and I am in touch with them even now. This was really fun for me and because of that great experience I am planning to go to some other summer school in future.

Yasemin ŞENER, Turkey, Summer School Participant 2010

“The best journey ever is the one which opens up new questions in your mind, rather than answering your questions.” I can honestly say that SUSEGG is that best journey, not just because it's amazing sight, objective professors or friendly social environment. It is, because you learn a lot of things even without realizing and mostly because it will create pretty much questions in your mind that you can't stand without seeking their answers. Hope you‘ll also experience.

Beatriz Tomsic Cerkez

  • Assistant Professor, Head of the Department of Art Education, Faculty of Education, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Summer School Faculty 2008, Environment, urban & regional development Seminar II 2009 guest lecturer II 2010 Sustainability Seminar

Having the opportunity to participate in the summer school devoted to the »Americas« has been an exiting experience for various reasons. From a personal point of view, because as far as I was born and raised in Latin America, my reflexions on that piece of the world involve me in a very particular way and I enjoy dealing them with my students.

From an academic perspective, it meant an enriching research, interchange of ideas, experiences and points of view trying to understand and reformulate established images of a special continent with a multicultural audience interested in different aspects of life in America from culture to economics, from art, architecture, literature, film to law or linguistics.

I highly recommend participating in the summer school not only to those engaged in American studies, but to any of you who wish to reflect on the new paradigms of our multicultural, globalized world.

Yuliya Motiyets, Ukraine, Summer School Participant 2010

SEGGAU Summer School is a great experience for young and open-minded. If you want to learn more about other cultures, make friends from all over Europe, share your ideas, and just have an amazing and unforgettable summer - you are welcome to SEGGAU!

Rolando Hinojosa-Smith

  • Department of English, Ellen Clayton Garwood Professor, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Summer School 2010, Literature

Although not a stranger to foreign students, my experience at Seggau was enlightening in many respects. First, I was most impressed by the students' enthusiasm, with their fitting in with each other during the individual reports and with the team discussion sessions. Second, I was also favorably impressed with their seriousness of purpose; the choice by the Graz University professors must have been a difficult one to have selected this group among the many applicants. As a teacher, one also learns from one's students, and I did as well from this, added which, I found the plenary sessions to be instructive as well as entertaining; the students' questions, by and large, were on point and this is always a blessing. In brief, Graz spent its money wisely.

Lidija Pejcinovic, Serbia, Summer School Participant 2010

The "so special thing" about summer School in Seggau is that it is going to re-paint your summer as well as your convictions. It is going to trap you in between the time, wishes and reality and you would be lost in the maze of the interesting lectures and amounts of people - participants as well as lecturers, with an incredible sense of humor, cordial approach, but most of all, people who are caring and smiling. What could be better? 

Gary Francisco Keller

  • Regents' Professor & Director, Hispanic Research Center,  Arizona State University, USA
  • Summer School 2010, Identities

The University of Graz’s summer school is a unique experience. It is much more than a mere opportunity to take extremely interesting courses. Carefully considered by a very attentive host university in Graz with its genuinely caring faculty and staff, every detail is planned in advance and carried out with panache. The Graz experience is splendid in every way because not only does it impart knowledge in a variety of ways such as courses, plenaries, lectures and films, it provides exciting and creative opportunities for good fellowship among students and between students and faculty.

Despite my grueling responsibilities at my own institution, I found the Graz experience so gratifying that I took on as an advisor two and possibly more doctoral students beginning their dissertations as well as a variety of additional graduate and undergraduate students.

I’ve been a faculty member since 1967 and I must say that the Graz experience rates among the very best.

Kristina Baus, Croatia, Summer School Participant 2010

When I was notified that I got a place at Summer School Susegg 2010 I was excited and was also looking forward to new knowledge and experience waiting for me there. But it exceeded my expectations - I gained not only totally different perspective of the topics covered by our seminar courses, but I also made new friends and learned a lot about other cultures! I would go back definitively! 

Cristina-Georgiana Voicu (PhD student), Romania, Summer School Participant 2010 & 2011

Statement 2011:
I really enjoyed my stay for the second time at Seggau Castle for the 2011 edition of International Summer School on the Americas. It was a great opportunity to meet new people from other countries. We come from different backgrounds, but really share so many of the same interests in the Inter-American Studies. In this way issues were raised which related not only to an Inter-American cultural identity, but also to a Latin-American alterity (in terms of Other: America as Other, Pan-Americanism, Interculturalism, The Chicano Movement) in the context of transcending cultural limits. I also liked the activities, because there was always something going on and something fun to do. The presentations and lectures were extremely relevant in providing material for practical group work and they were a natural source of academic discussion. I also enjoyed the free-form approach and the intensive style of the learning experience. The fact that everything happened right then and there made it challenging yet rewarding, because you always got feedback from the lecturers and other students. It was demanding, but thoroughly enjoyable, all of the participants being engaged and encouraged to exchange Inter-American ideas and experiences. Consequently, we had the opportunity to prove that the Inter-American identity necessarily becomes a hybrid between several cultures (the North-American, the Caribbean and the Latin-American one). Moreover, the Uni-Graz staff was brilliant, always there, always smiling, always pleasant. They seemed to take real pride in their work!”

Statement 2010:

The Summer School rich learning experience allowed me to follow up particular interests for my PhD research, in terms of American experience. I decided to undertake Summer School ‘Identities’ seminar to spread out my work with my students and to have a more balanced workload across all areas of my life. I have found the Summer School The Americas: When one is not enough to be challenging and stimulating and taught in a relaxed learning environment besides the flexibility to focus in a particular subject of interest. The intensive nature of study really helped me to understand the information. It was like a ‘Journey into Otherness on the Road to the Americas’. During my staying at Seggau Castle, I really developed strong friendships in the smaller classes, which offered more interaction and sharing of ideas that really made it a much more enjoyable process. I also appreciated the academic staff of the University of Graz for their professional organization of the program. I am planning to come to Seggau in 2011 as well and I recommend this Summer School to anyone wishing to complete their degree quicker, and especially if there is a subject on offer they feel passionately about.


Nikkolo Gaspe, Philippines, Summer School Participant 2010

It Rocks! International Summer School Seggau is an avenue to meet different people coming from different cultures, background, and countries. It opens you to the reality that the world today is globalized and connected. The castle is amazing and the excursion trips are interesting. Topics cover different fields from law to social sciences and humanities. My seminar group on Culture and Society helps me understand the dynamics as well as the paradox of European Culture - unified and at the same time diverse. To sum it all up, Summer School Seggau is remarkable.

Luis San Vicente Portes

  • Professor at the Department of International Business Montclair State Unviersity, USA
  • Summer School 2010, Economics, Politics & Society

The University of Graz summer school at Seggau seamlessly brings together students, faculty and a variety of disciplines into the same realm. From shared meals to shared lectures all participants benefited from a truly inter-disciplinary approach in the study of the Americas. By drawing together a diverse pool of students and lecturers from around the world, learning drifts from the classroom, to conversations, to films, to roundtables.

Erwin Bongaerts, The Netherlands, Summer School Participant 2010

Studying and living in Seggau Castle is truly a unique experience. The Summer School offers various lectures on a wide array of topics.  The programme enables students to learn a lot about contemporary scientific debates in Europe. The best part is nevertheless the chance to meet people from other countries. Not only does this lead to more understanding, but it also leads to friendship.

Judith Kohlenberger, Austria, Summer School Participant 2010

I had high expectations for the two weeks of the summer school, and they were surpassed with ease. From the inter-disciplinary plenary sessions in the morning to the individual seminars in the afternoon and thought-provoking movie screenings in the evening, the summer school turned out to be an inspirational experience in every aspect. Frequently, our discussions continued after class and, in a more relaxed environment and with a glass of Styrian wine, well into the night. The location, beautiful Seggau Castle in the South of Styria, provides all the luxuries of a five star vacation, and yet does not fail to live up to its repute as a modern ivory tower. All in all, the summer school was a marvellous opportunity to broaden my academic horizon, to establish international networks, and, possibly most important, to make friends for life. Without doubt, summer schools, and above all those which are as fabulously organised, academically sound and personally enriching as the C.SAS Summer School on the Americas, are one of the best ways to spend the summer.

Gillian Armstrong, South Africa, Summer School Participant 2011


The most important thing I can say about my trip to Seggau Castle was that it was FUN! I learned so many things; both about the Americas and European cultures, but also about myself. I have made solid friends and I have widened my network of international academics. I would strongly encourage anyone considering an exchange or summer school experience to go for it and give it your all!

..., the summer school gives you back what you put in. The best advice I can give is to grab the bull by the horns and give it your all. Ask questions. Speak to the lecturers. Made an effort to speak to each one of your fellow students. Ask about their country, their language. Ask about words. You will not be sorry with what you receive back and the experience will be a lasting and gratifying one.

Katharina Golitschek Edle von Elbwart, Germany, Summer School Participant 2011

To me, GUSS 2011 was an overall great experience which I can only recommend. Meeting international students, listening to professors from all over the world, and being engaged in Inter-American studies during the whole stay is a possibility one should never disregard.

Before I came to Seggau Castle, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from two weeks of intense lectures, classes, and readings. I was positively overwhelmed by all the insights I could gain. I chose the “Identities” seminar which helped me a lot in understanding both political and social differences within the Americas. The different perspectives due to a variety of personal backgrounds from all over the world allowed different conclusions and further discussions even after class.  But it’s not all about studying; it’s also about meeting international students and professors over a glass of wine, and being engaged in a cultural exchange which not only widens your academic horizon but offers you an international network of colleagues who all share similar interests: The Americas: When one is not enough.

Sorina Chiper, Romania, Summer School Participant 2011

Whenever I feel good and happy, I invariably take a nostalgic leap to my childhood days. Communist times: 2 hours of television only, with the luxury of occasional TV series from sister countries. One of my delights was a Czechoslovakian film – Návštìvníci – and the scene that captivated me the most was lunch: the visitors, in that distant, apolitical future, would squeeze some paste from a magic tube on a pill, and the two would mix, flip and turn with the speed of lightning, taking the shape and taste of numberless foods: meat, broth, bread, cheese, cookies, sausages, sauces, pickles and paprika, you name it! They had all been tamed and concealed, concentrated and miniaturized in a futurist paste that, once released on the plate, displayed, in quick succession, all its flavors. Looking back on my two weeks in Seggau, I find myself staring, in amazement, as I would when watching Návštìvníci: it feels as if, unawares, by joining the summer-school I … squeezed out some paste from the “GUSS tube”, and I set myself for a wonder-full experience: food for thought, food for the soul, food for the heart, food for karaoke, tennis and volleyball, food for memories and new friendships, food for new projects and collaborations, food as inspiration, food as a privilege, food as commonality, food as the basis for community, food as harmony, food as excess, food for the printing press, food as culture, food from the nature, food for dreams and it seems... for unpredictably and creatively more. My post-Seggau siesta is happy, indeed, and not yet complete; I feel enriched by all the people that I met, the films that we saw, the lectures and the seminars that we attended, the games that we played and the laughs that we shared. Compliments to the (organizing) Chefs, the teaching team and all the fellow students – now friends –, who have made the summer school a feast to remember and to wish to partake again!

Jana Hulova, Slovakia, Summer School Participant 2011

Before coming to the Seggau Castle I had great expectations. However, all of them were surpassed with ease! I have expected high academic level, full program and far-reaching experience and experiences. Already on the very first day I realised how wrong I was!

In Seggau Castle you get to know people from all over the world. You are dealing with the certain problems and tasks from different points of view and you are encouraged to express your opinion on certain questions.

Morning´s plenary sessions broaden your view and you realize that also, for instance, economics has its human face or that the identity problem on the Mexico-US border has wider background than just purely cultural.

Thanks to the afternoon´s seminars you gain deep insight into the chosen topic and the multicultural classes provide you with the perspectives you wouldn´t even dare to think of before.

And the days usually finish with glass of wine and talks with friends and professor-friends about the topics we dealt with during the day or simply about life in different countries, cultures or continents.

What I really liked about the Summer School was the fact that we are from different fields of study, different parts of the world, of different age and work/study position enriched each of us.  It is no purely work time. These two weeks were great FUN and free time in swimming pool, dinner in Bushenshank and KARAOKE NIGHT are unforgettable moments that make me laugh even now.

For me, Summer School was not only great experience of two weeks. It is continuing – for example in my thesis that I shaped with my lecturer on the Summer School.

The toughest side of the Summer School is saying good-byes to all the friends you made. But as all stories we know from the Castles, they do not end with one good-bye. We finished the Summer School upon the hill with – keep in touch and see you soon friends from all over the world.

Ecaterina Cojoca, Romania, Summer School Participant 2012

GUSS was not only an intellectually rewarding experience, but a fun one, as well, because it was a perfect combination of intensive academic studies and stimulating conversations. The literature seminar expanded my knowledge on South American writers, making me explore further the influence of the 19th century American writers in South America, and giving me potential research ideas for my own thesis. The morning lectures, definitely a challenge, helped me to better understand key contemporary political and social issues and to develop an interest in subjects outside my primary area of study. The possibility to share this experience with students and professors from various academic backgrounds make GUSS a melting pot of ideas. Attending the summer school is a challenge worth taking.

Felix Müller, Germany, Summer School Participant 2012

Describing a summer school can not be justly done by simply remembering the content of seminars and lectures given, nor by the extra-curricula program like Karaoke or the excursion to Graz. GUSS 2012 was not a program that you followed in order to later on add it to your CV. This summer school is much more than that. It's an adventure that takes you on a roller-coaster ride through an exploration of your own personality and a search for your own academic self. The experience can, if you let it, redefine you as a person just as much as it redefines your academic interests and goals. The seminars let you argue and discuss the material directly with your instructor and your classmates. The lectures show you topics and themes from different fields of study that might stimulate you personally to dive into unknown realms of your own study program or discover new study programs elsewhere. However, this is only the academic level of experience. The overall environment of Schloss Seggau adds a flair of holiday and relaxation to the intense and stimulative academic program. Students and professors mingle during breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or even over a coffee on the sunny terrace in between seminars and lectures. I myself was as stimulated by this setting and environment as never before. The social environment brought us students closer as well. The international student body broadened my perspective and created an intimate social bonding. I'm still in touch with students that I met from the summer school who come from all over the world! So in short, not attending but experiencing this summer school leaves you with new perspectives on life, academia, friendship, and love, but also it enables you to redirect yourself; get yourself personally and academically back on track and focus your goals and aims for the future. Graz University Summer School at Schloss Seggau opens your doors on all frontiers and it gives you the opportunity to choose where to go from here. It's a  rite of passage on an academic as well as on a personal level for anyone participating. And yes, I will definitely be applying again next year!

Cynthia Marie Balagtas, USA, Summer School Participant 2013

The beauty of Seggau is only matched by the dedication and professionalism of educators in the University of Graz International Summer School program.  The learning extends from the traditional classroom out onto the awe-inspiring backdrop of the idyllic Austrian hills. In two weeks time, I am able to learn a great deal about the many countries represented by my fellow participants - highly motivated people of different cultures, beliefs and perspectives who share many things in common. Among them: a passion for knowledge. As a writer, I appreciate the wonderful challenge of viewing the world from a fresh angle, and with a much wider lens that lead to a clearer understanding of people. Even as this year's theme focused on "Collective Identities: Nationalism and Transnationalism in Europe and Beyond," I am most amazed by the respect and regard of the summer school educators toward the individual, and the heartwarming effort to make everyone feel welcome. Indeed, the essence of multiculturalism thrives in the hills of Schloss Seggau, where one experiences a rich mosaic of knowledge, ideas and fellowship. I highly recommend Graz International Summer School Seggau to those who hunger to learn about life beyond their borders.

Martina Bednáriková, Slovakia, Summer School Participant 2012

They say one day your life will flash before your eyes. The only thing you have to ensure is to make it worth watching.

Have you ever realized how quickly one single event can change your life? I have never believed in miracles. However, in summer 2012 I took my chance and finally found out about the value of experience. I grabbed the amazing opportunity to spend the unforgettable 2 weeks in Seggau, the heart of Styria in Austria. I took part in GUSS “On the Americas” and you can bet that it was exactly this summer school that changed me. The power of the time I spent with the students from all over the world is always going to influence my memories. I do not want to describe all the different places and events we had the chance to experience and see. In order to find out about this you simply have to come by yourself. Nevertheless, what I aim to express is to encourage all of you who still doubt. Do not let yourself be tangled… It is all worth it! You can be sure that to attend GUSS was definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made, because it gave me the opportunity to experience the new, to feel the difference, to see the unknown and to find my own true self. I am keeping my fingers crossed for you!

Ejona Gjeci, Albania, Summer School Participant 2013

I saw Graz Summer School poster completely by accident hanged on the door of my university career office and I am glad that it happened that way. I knew nothing about it and I’d never heard about the summer school. But it was pretty clear to me that during the next summer I wanted to do something different. So I checked Graz University website and voila! There was plenty of information and without hesitation I started the application procedure.

Being the first to arrive and the last to leave the Seggau Castle made those two weeks seem like the whole ‘adventure’ started the moment I walked in the yard to the reception and ended the very last moment when Luca, the waiter of the bar, helped me put the luggage in the taxi. Two long weeks filled with lectures, tons of discussions, evening gatherings, sunbathing while preparing for the seminar and a hundred of new voices from different countries. All of those people, each of them from their own corner of the world, brought a piece of it in the summer school castle: various opinions, several experiences, different backgrounds and a giant collection of identities and laughs and fun.

Sometimes you are not prepared, or better said: you have no idea which will be the next experience that will change the way you think, or even the way you believe things work out around you, that happened to me when the taxi left Seggau Castle in the midnight of July 13th.

Karim Friaa, Tunisia, Summer School Participant 2013

The Graz International Summer School Graz 2013 was a unique academic and cultural experience for me, since I generally enjoy working and sharing my ideas with students and professors from all over the world (Europe, Africa, America, and Asia) in multicultural environments. During the summer, after I had returned to my hometown, I didn't stop talking to my family, my friends and my professors about this event that provoked a positive ‘‘cultural shock’’, it gave me a lot of energy, hope and ambitions for my future studies. I really appreciated the academic staff of the University of Graz because of their professional organization of the program, for the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of the whole event and for the various activities which made my stay at Seggau castle very comfortable – it fostered learning and sharing nice moments with other participants. This summer school program had been a multicultural and multiethnic laboratory of remarkable academic relevance where I had the chance to discuss and comment on specific social, cultural and political situations in Europe and around the world based on the topic “Collective Identities: Nationalism, Transnationalism – Europe and Beyond" and the lectures organized by my professors Mr. Soeren Keil from Canterbury Christ Church University (UK) and Mr. Robert C Austin from the University of Toronto (Canada). Gaining knowledge through analysis, evaluation of skills, and panels of discussion was the common goal of all participants and the organizing committee. But it’s not all about studying; it’s also about meeting international students, and being engaged in a cultural exchange which not only broadens your academic horizon but offers you an international network of colleagues who all share similar interests, it’s also about representing your country and sharing your identity, culture, language with participants from many nations. I experienced diversity in a pleasant atmosphere of respect, responsibility, exchange, culture, knowledge, languages, sports (football, volleyball, tennis table, swimming pool), karaoke, watching movies, drinking coffee with friends during the night and during free time after lectures, very nice accommodation, special meals and very delicious desserts, enjoying the opening and closing ceremony, and visiting Graz. It was an experience I will never forget; therefore I'm planning to come to Seggau in 2014 as well. So, if you are interested in the GUSEGG 2014, don’t waste time thinking, do apply, maybe we will meet and we will share an interesting academic and cultural experience in July 2014.

Christopher Edyegu, Uganda, Summer School Participant 2013

On the 30th June 2013, I arrived for the 8th Graz International Summer School at Seggau Castle to find 95 students and 25 professors from almost 60 universities and 35 different countries. To be honest, I did not know how to proceed as I had never met so many people from such different and diverse countries and this was also my first time in Europe. How could I ever get along with them given that we are so different? Fortunately, Professor Guy Laforest’s wise words were the catapult that propelled me to action. He said that sometimes people have more similarities than differences but they tend to focus on that which separates them. Talking to fellow students, I realized that we have lots in common; we like the same music and movies, we have read the same books, share a love for football, among several other interests. Though international borders are becoming increasingly irrelevant, they still matter and these imaginary boundaries have the ability to restrict us by emphasizing our differences. Summer school taught me that if we can overcome the boundaries in our minds, we can be able to open bridges to find connections between us. We must develop ways in which we can use each other’s differences to enrich ourselves. The future of this world may depend on new patterns of relations across difference.

Whoever thought summer school would be all fun was greatly mistaken. Yes, we played football, volleyball, table tennis, did karaoke and several other fun activities but academics were our main priority. We engaged in rigorous academic work focusing on the theme of “Collective Identities: Nationalism, Transnationalism – Europe and Beyond." It was an international and interdisciplinary academic experience that required active participation in seminars and lectures. Between six to eight hours each day were dedicated to academic exposure. It was critically challenging and intense. But I must say that it was good for me. Before summer school, I avoided debates because I hated conflict but by engaging in academic discussions with lecturers and fellow students, I realized that I actually enjoy debates and I am good at it (something I did not know about myself). I realized that the conflict of minds is needed to expose us to other points of views and experiences.

Summer school helped me to find wholeness in my identity. In the last three years, I have lived and studied in Uganda (3 years), South Africa (3 years) and in Botswana (4 years). I also travel regularly in these countries. Considering all three countries home, I have always been divided about which was my "real home" and which one defined me. In summer school, I learned that all these countries form part of my collective identity and I don’t have to choose between them but I can incorporate them within my identity. I can gain from all these countries to form a fuller, richer identity. At the same time identity is not fixed so with each new experience (such as this summer school experience) we add a new layer to our identity. The key to staying grounded, I have learned, is to "think globally and act locally." My mind has been blown (positively) at summer school. I have absolutely loved my time at the Graz International Summer School at Seggau and I will look back at my time there with nostalgia.

Kushal Agrawal, India, Summer School Participant 2014

When we talk of the Graz University International Summer School or GUSEGG as we know it, we talk about diverse cultures, broad perspectives, wide approaches, informative sessions and crazy nights filled with fun. I could find students from all over the world at one place united, to incorporate their thoughts about ‘Transformation and Change: Europe and beyond’. Although the offered six modules were all very diverse in nature, we had morning collaborative seminars, where all students got together and learned about different modules to get an overall gist of the topics, and also at the same time gave their perspective thoughts on it. Group discussions among students, panel discussion with the professors, and presentations gave us a broad and intense approach to look at a topic from various angles. But it’s not only about the study; if the days were filled with intensive study, the nights got more intense and crazy, but with fun. We had a wine tasting night, pool parties, sports tournaments, dancing workshops and tours and excursions. Getting to know people from diverse backgrounds and cultures was not only amazing but also very informative. The Professors and administration staff were very supportive and flexible with students, and hence that made the overall experience an unforgettable memory. These 2 weeks of GUSEGG not only gives you academic knowledge and chance to earn ECTS, but also shows you how life should have proportionate amount of study and fun both at the same time.

Caru Coetzee, South Africa, Summer School Participant 2014

Pre Departure

It is every South African student’s dream to go and study abroad. Unfortunately it is also every student’s reality that for South Africans this is nearly impossible. Our currency is too weak, our government does not give many scholarships and our educational system is completely different to those of European or American schools. However, I saw this near impossibility become a reality when I started researching summer schools to attend at partner institutions of the University of Stellenbosch. I sent in my application video after a frustrating week of trying to find a quiet place to film in Stellenbosch. When I saw how many mistakes had been made in my video and how many students had entered, my heart sank in my shoes when I realized my chances were about as much as finding water in the Kalahari Desert. I was completely surprised when I got the call from the International Office of our University to hear that myself and my classmate, Cecile, had been awarded the spots at the summer school of our choosing. But the fun was only beginning …

Summer school

Flying to Vienna, I was tired, had just finished a paper on company insolvency and helped my mom with her 50th birthday party. I really needed a vacation and the long travel time took its toll on me. But all of these silly worries faded away as soon as I arrived at summer school. There were 77 incredibly diverse and dynamic students from 26 countries. Most of them came from Europe, especially the Balkans. It was fantastic, to say the least. I could not have wished for a better experience. The lecturers were amazing and challenging, and experts in their fields of study.

I learnt the most from other students and chatting to them about their lives and experiences. I heard personal stories of the Balkan wars, of the current situation in Crimea, of Egypt, and of the life of a New Yorker. We formed a running group and ran in the afternoons, played waterpolo in our lunch breaks and spent the evenings after our program hanging out on the patio. I got to know people that would have never entered my realm of existence had I not gone to Austria. I met these amazing guys from Kosovo, a country of which I had heard probably once or twice in my life. The Austrians bought me beer and Shoko-bons. Waseh, originally from Afghanistan but living in the Netherlands, bought me hot chocolate and I could speak Afrikaans to him and he spoke Dutch to me. I learnt all about the European Union from Michal, a Slovakian, and Karol, a Polish Canadian. Neza taught me about Balkan politics and Sebnem taught me about Turkey’s secular state.

We had moot courts, guest lectures, a film evening, dance and karaoke nights, ate amazing food, held heated debates on everything from feral chickens to euthanasia and even visited Slovenia for a day. I learnt so much academically, but even more from the people around me. I had lunch with a woman from Croatia doing her PhD in South African literature and spent an hour chatting to her about life at home. I heard all about the Czech gangster hiding in Cape Town and about the death of Yugoslavia from Robert Austin, our lecturer from Toronto.

Cecile and I did a presentation on South Africa, which included throwing Fizzers at people. We also had a presentation in our summer school groups about everything that we learnt, and it was such an enriching experience presenting this with students from all over the world and who are all studying in different fields.

Be sure to go with an open mind, spend time socializing with the other students and be willing to listen to their stories. If you go over there, determined to view the world from your own perspective, then you will be disappointed and disillusioned. Be prepared to see the world as other people see it, especially concerning religious and cultural differences. It will make you a better person, as I know it made me.

After summer school I spent 3 days in Salzburg, and two of the guys I had met at summer school came with me for the weekend. It was so much fun having them with me, and we saw so much of Salzburg in one weekend.  I also spent 3 days in Vienna, during which time I also had the pleasure of visiting Michal and Barbora in Slovakia and they showed me around all the local spots. You will most probably meet some people at summer school who also have similar travel plans to you, so keep this in mind when making plans to travel after summer school.

Returning to Stellenbosch

As I am writing part of this, I am sitting in Vienna International Airport waiting to board a flight to Frankfurt. I am tired, sunburnt, broke, wearing chocolate-covered shorts and all my clothes are dirty. I want to stay forever and I want to go home immediately as well. I made such amazing memories, I cannot imagine rocking up to a double Company Law 471 lecture at 8am on Monday morning. It seems unreal, and I don’t think I can face it. But I also know that life goes on, and my life has been made richer by the experiences I have gained in the past 3 weeks. I learnt to ride underground trains by myself at midnight, got lost and found myself again in broken German, learnt to drink beer like a true European, picked up about 3kgs from eating bread and apfelstrudel, realized all shoes hurt after about 5 hours and that South Africans are about the coolest people you will ever meet.

I cannot wait to go back. My experiences are my own and I will probably never be able to recount all of them to my people, and that’s fine. Because they are mine and mine alone, and I like it like that.

Looking back on the past 10 days since I have come home, I can honestly say my summer school experience has changed me. I am more relaxed, but take my studies more seriously. I make time to hear people’s stories more often. I am more aware of the crime going on around me, and the development that still needs to happen in South Africa. My mind has been expanded, my worldview widened and I am so happy that I get to bring some of the knowledge I gained back home with me. I would encourage each and every student to use all the means possible to go and study at a different University. Whether it be for 2 weeks or 2 years, it will do you the world of good.

The quote I based my application video on was based on the quote of St Augustine, and it said that the world is a book and those who do not travel live on only one page. That is definitely the truth, so go out there and see the world.

I am so glad to be home, but I am already planning my next trip. Definitely to the Balkans.

End of this page section.
Go to overview of page sections.

Begin of page section:

Contact for Students:

University of Graz (Austria): Office of International Relations

Tel. +43 (0)316 / 380-3926

End of this page section.
Go to overview of page sections.