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Colorado – My semester abroad in the heart of the Rocky Mountains

By Lisa-Maria Draxl | 03/11/2024
Image Source: Lisa-Maria Draxl

For one semester, I was able to experience life on an American university campus surrounded by the breathtaking nature of Colorado - the perfect location for me as a keen outdoor sports enthusiast!

From campus to summit: student life in Colorado

To be more precise, I went to Colorado Mesa University in the small town of Grand Junction. During my time in Colorado, I was able to experience typical campus life in the USA at first hand. Even in the first week, I felt like I was in a film when the new students, the "freshmen", were warmly welcomed by the band and cheerleaders at an event. During the semester, I lived in student accommodation on campus, made arrangements with the canteen food and took advantage of all the leisure activities on offer. Numerous clubs on various topics not only offered lots of activities, but also the opportunity to get to know people. In the morning, I was able to watch the football players training from the gym, which I later cheered on with "Go Mavs!" at the games in the stadium. 

What was special for me was having a wide range of leisure activities in the mountains of Colorado away from the campus. Sitting in lectures in the morning and climbing a peak in the afternoon? No problem in Colorado.

Interested in a stay abroad, but still unsure which mobility programme or country to choose? Then check out the Study Abroad Drop-In Session, every Tuesday from 2-4 pm in the International House (Lessingstraße 32, 1st floor).

The university campus with the mountains in the background. (Image source: Lisa-Maria Draxl)

Hiking, climbing and more: outdoor adventures in the Rocky Mountains

While I spent most of my time on campus during the week, I was travelling almost every weekend. I tried out numerous outdoor sports activities, combined with camping in the most beautiful landscapes. Whether it was rafting, rock climbing, multi-day hikes or skiing - there was plenty on offer. I was particularly fascinated by Colorado's varied landscape. From the National Monument, a canyon with red sandstone formations, to the greenery of the Grand Mesa Forest is only 2 hours away.

The breath-taking view from the via ferrata in Ouray. (Image source: Lisa-Maria Draxl)

Central USA: Travelling around Colorado

There is a lot to see not only in Colorado, but also around the state. Its central location makes Colorado ideal for travelling. During my semester abroad, I went on 3 road trips and visited 6 different states. Together with other students, we visited Yellowstone National Park and the hot air balloon festival in New Mexico at weekends. Over the Thanksgiving holidays, we went on a 10-day road trip that took us to Utah, Las Vegas, California and Arizona. This varied trip with fascinating national parks and enchanting cities provided us with numerous experiences and strengthened our friendship.

Malibu Beach was one of the destinations during the Thanksgiving road trip. (Image source: Lisa-Maria Draxl)

From campus life to outdoor adventures and travelling, my semester abroad was an incredible experience full of wonderful memories and new friendships.

Off on an adventure abroad with lots of new friendships and memories! (Image source: Lisa-Maria Draxl)


Lisa-Maria Draxl is studying for a Master's Degree in Civil Engineering Sciences and Structural Engineering at TU Graz and spent the winter semester 2023/24 with the ISEP mobility programme at Colorado Mesa University in the small town of Grand Junction. As a Study Abroad Peer, she reported on her experiences in the USA on the social media channels of the International Office - Welcome Centre on Facebook and Instagram.
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