English and American Studies: dream studies since the Upper School

Sophia Lafner studies English and American Studies and Geography and Economics in the teacher education programme. She is currently writing her master’s thesis and talks to us about her studies, funny anecdotes and her start of studies. In the interview she tells us how her view of the world has changed through her studies and why you should not give in.

Was it clear right from the beginning what you want to study or were you torn between different study programmes?

I always wanted to work with children and young people in my future profession, but during my years in Upper Secondary School it became clear to me that, I wanted to study English. Additionally, through my school leaving examination in geography my interest in that subject was strengthened to such an extent that I also considered studying it. Eventually, I was even able to study both, because I decided to study to become a teacher. For me, this was a good way of pursuing both interests and at the same time finding a way to work with children and young people.

Tell us a memorable AAU anecdote!

The end of my second semester is very vivid in my memory. I had to go to university to write an exam when the weather went crazy and hailstones that felt as if they were the size of houses were falling from the sky. I hoped the weather would calm down before the exam, but unfortunately this was not the case and I had to make my way to the university equipped with my wellingtons (to brave the 10cm layer of hail on the ground). 10 minutes late for the exam, I entered the room and made my way to the last empty seat, wearing wet, squeaking wellingtons and followed by many glances from my fellow students. Luckily, not only I, but everybody else had to laugh and suddenly the mood before the exam was not so tense anymore. Today, I am still being asked about the wellingtons story.

Which subjects do you like and why?

I really like all the courses with a didactic focus because they are practice oriented and their focus is on what I ultimately will practice in my profession.

Has your view of the world changed through your studies?

I have certainly become a more cosmopolitan person. I have met many new people and through their friendship my view of the world has also broadened. During my studies I got to know the world from all sides – literally (through my semester abroad in Down Under).

How do you explain the contents of your studies to your grandmother, a stranger or friends? (Is it easy for you to explain what you are doing?)

I can usually escape such questions because a teacher education programme seems very clear to everyone. I am often asked whether I am learning about all the cities, waters and mountains on earth in Geography, and when I then explain that Geography is much more than that, most people are amazed.

What do you like about Klagenfurt? Why should one study here?

Klagenfurt is small but very nice. I have a few favourite places in and around the city, including Wörthersee, which is of course the highlight in spring and summer. The fact that the university is so close to the lake is the best part of the whole thing, especially during lecture breaks. At the beginning of my studies, I never thought that I would ever learn to appreciate the size of the university. I like the fact that you can reach everything on campus quickly and that you know a lot of people because you are not “just a number”.

What would be important advice for AAU freshers?

You should not let it get you down! At the beginning of my studies, I had my doubts whether it was too difficult for me and whether it was really the right choice. But you should always remember: if you really want something, you will get it. I am currently in the last semester of my studies and can look back with pride on all the hurdles I have mastered.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? In which field do you want to work?

I hope that I can do what makes me happy and at the moment that would be teaching both of my subjects in one school.


  • My university is…where others spend their holidays.
  • My student life does not work without… friends, tea breaks and university parties.
  • I am inspired by… every person who finishes their studies.