Madeleine Doyle (FUS class of 2018) writes of her first impressions at the Kartause as a Franciscan University student and LCI intern.

Despite the cold winds, grey skies and falling snow, life has sprung up once again at the Kartause in Gaming, Austria. January 28th arrived and with it arrived 150 eager students, excited to discover Europe and grow in unimaginable ways. The classes here offer such unique opportunities that really challenge the students in a classical and critical way of thinking, reading, writing and arguing their ideas. Here in Gaming, the growth experience doesn’t stop at the door of the classroom but continues into the weekends as the students travel and interact with each other. The LCI program has been integrating students from different countries with the Franciscan University for 25 years.

I have the special opportunity and privilege to work with the LCI students and everyone involved in the program through the new Internship Program implemented just this year, to aid in the mission of LCI and help foster relationships between the Franciscan and LCI students. For me, the first week of classes was filled with excitement, and adjusting to life here in Gaming took a short time. Now it has already begun to feel like home, as I’ve settled into a routine of prayer, study and traveling. We’ve had the opportunity to travel to the Abby of Melk as well as take a daytrip to Salzburg.

Salzburg was particularly enjoyable because I have been an avid fan of The Sound of Music since I was a little girl. Salzburg is such a beautiful city with rich history and breathtaking views. In the morning we went on a walking tour and in the afternoon my friends and I decided to take the long trek to the castle overlooking the city. The view from the top was fantastic! Words cannot do the Austrian Alps justice and it was truly a highlight of my time in Salzburg.

Another highlight of my time so far in Gaming was the night I met all the LCI students. I and the other LCI Interns, Christopher and Stephen, were invited to attend a small, beginning of-the-year Social at the LCI House, where we were treated to tea, coffee and wonderful company. Martin, one of the LCI students, had brought wine from Slovakia and organized a wine-tasting for everyone attending. The setup was simple, yet was it was carefully and thoughtfully organized. The wines were in order from white to red and from dry to sweet. Everyone was poured just small portion of each wine to sip and try, followed by some cheese or water to cleanse the palette. Before each wine someone would give a toast: celebrating the LCI program, new friends and proposed hopes for the coming semester. The entire event was full of life and laughter. I was really able to appreciate the comfort of good food and good wine amidst a group of people that really emanate universal friendship and kindness. Out of many things I’ve done since being here in Gaming, this night was one of my favorites. It was so beautiful to have Martin share his knowledge and something from his culture. It was such a blessing to meet the other students and I look forward to getting to know them as the semester continues.

I know that from here on out the days will only move faster. As the snow begins to melt, and I slowly become a master of deciphering German at the local grocery store, I thank God daily for this incredible opportunity and the ways I am constantly loved. Whether it be through challenging readings in ethics or joyful times with friends, this semester has so much left to experience. . . including a deeper appreciation for mountains, good wine, and even better company.