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Featured: Part of Central’s International Family

September 29, 2017

One of Central College’s newest faculty members, Michaela Maschek is associate director of Central College in Vienna and lecturer of German on campus this fall. She completed her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Salzburg and continues to teach at the University of Vienna. Read on to learn more about Central’s guest from Austria:

What’s most different about being on campus at Central?

The setting is a huge difference. At Austrian universities, you usually have one big final exam, and the professors don’t interact so much with the students (the students also don’t pay so much for a semester). In the States, the campus feels more like a big family, and students are helped individually to discover and develop their greatest potential.

What’s a highlight for students in Vienna?

Central College has a joint-study agreement with the University of Vienna. Not too many people know the University of Vienna celebrated its 650th anniversary in 2015 — it was founded in 1365! It is the oldest university in the German-speaking world and one of the oldest universities in Europe. Central College students can choose classes from 175 degree programs, 40 continuing education and training programs — and with about 94,000 students, the University of Vienna is the largest and most diverse educational institution in Austria.

What should students know about you?

I am a proud Austrian, but I don’t know the lyrics to “The Sound of Music.”

What attracted you to Central College?

I was a Fulbright scholar in the U.S. and really enjoyed my time studying abroad. It broadened my horizon, and I wish everybody had the chance to live a semester or a year in another country. Now, working for Central’s study abroad program, I get to help American students in Austria make their time abroad a valuable experience they will treasure forever.

How did you get interested in linguistics?

I have always loved languages — especially grammar and cross-linguistic comparison. At the University of Vienna, I often teach people from all over the world in my classes. When my Turkish students could never get prepositions right, I wanted to find out why and started cross-linguistic comparison. It turns out they only use three to five prepositions, whereas in German we have at least 20 we need constantly. Once you know that, you can support them better.

What’s your favorite thing about teaching?

It’s the “light bulb moment” — when my students look at me, and they finally understand a new concept, like how gender works in German.

 What is one of your favorite books?

“Die Wand” or “The Wall” by Austrian writer Marlen Haushofer. I love this book because of the author’s wonderful talent for word choice, but also because of the great story. (Plot: A woman inexplicably finds herself cut off from all human contact when an invisible, unyielding wall suddenly surrounds her hunting lodge in the Austrian mountains. With a dog, a cow and a cat as her companions, she struggles to survive and come to terms with the situation. Facing fear and loneliness, she writes an account of her isolation without knowing whether anyone will ever read it.)

What gets you going in the morning?

Coffee with cinnamon.

Tell us one unexpected thing about yourself.

I love symphonic metal music.

Describe the most interesting object in your office.

That would be my “Austrian Quilt.” A friend of mine came to the States last year, and she absolutely fell in love with quilting. When Isabella heard I would be teaching in Pella for a semester, she created a beautiful quilt with Austrian fabric as a present for me — it is now hanging in my office (Weller 116, in case anybody wants to check it out!).

At Central College, students are mentored by experts, and not a single class is led by a teaching assistant. Read more news about Central faculty.

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