Four months ago, I parted with my parents at security and boarded a plane headed to Europe. I was alone and somewhat terrified, and yet I was brimming with excitement and anticipation of what awaited me in Vienna. Now, I am sitting on a plane headed back to Texas. Again, I am alone, and my family will not greet me when I arrive in DFW as they are still in Europe for another day. I don’t know how I feel. They say the transition back to your life in America after time abroad is harder than the original transition in your host country. I somehow sense that that will be very true in my case. I adjusted easily to my life in Vienna and fell head over heels for the city and the life of adventure I got to lead while living there. But I have already told you what I love about Vienna, and what I am already beginning to miss as I depart. Now, in the midst of my journey home, I want to write about the things I look forward to returning to when I am back in America. This list is mostly to help me have the right frame of mind as I return, but I hope that it can help others who are also approaching re-immersion back home with some trepidation or sadness.
It seems obvious to be ready to return to family, but it is still true. For most study abroad students, their time abroad is the longest and the furthest they’ve ever been away from family. For me, I usually see my family around once a week since my university is less than an hour away. I kept up over text, FaceTime, and Facebook, but it was strange to be physically separated for so long, especially as the holiday season approached. I will be glad to be around them more frequently again.
I seriously miss Tex-Mex food and queso. I ate plenty of delicious meals from all different cuisines as I traveled this semester, and my roommates and I even scrounged together a Taco Tuesday night, but nothing could replace the hole in my heart left from the lack of good Mexican food anywhere in Europe. My first stop in Texas after I land will be to get tacos, and I am pumped. I also miss my mom’s cooking. I picked up a lot of skills myself the past couple months, but nothing beats a homemade meal that you don’t have to make yourself.
I made great friends while studying abroad and parting with my roommates was really hard, but I am ready to see my friends back home. I want to spend time with them and catch up, not just about the things I did and experienced, but about their own lives and adventures. It was difficult to accept that people’s lives were moving forward without me while I was away; however, I am eager to learn how they have also grown and changed over the past semester. People are not stagnant by nature. We are constantly learning and developing character. Change is not always bad, it can, in fact, be very good. I hope their lives have changed for the better as mine has and that we can ring in the new year with joy and hope. I also can't wait to return to some of my favorite restaurants and coffee shops with them!
The cat cafe in Vienna (which I highly recommend- it's called Cafe Neko and it's a couple blocks from the IES Abroad center) helped me get my fix of cats for the time that I was there, but I still missed my cats back home! I can't wait to snuggle them and also see the dogs- our family has a lot of furry members. My family jokes that if it wasn't for my cats and queso, I would never go back to America! They're not entirely wrong...
You would think that good drinking water is hard to come by in Europe by the prices they charge or the size of the cups they give you! Austria is known for having some of the purest and best-tasting drinking water in the world, but oftentimes restaurants will only serve you bottled water or will charge you for a pitcher of tap water (helpful hint: tap water is called Leitungswasser in German!). The only time you are guaranteed a free cup of tap water in Vienna is when you order coffee at a cafe. Sometimes the water cups I got with coffee were significantly larger than cups of water I ordered alone! Never take free water- or ice- for granted.
While certain elements of European living became familiar throughout my time there, it will feel good to be back in my old environment. I look forward to going back to my local grocery stores and knowing where and what everything is. I can’t wait to get back into my car and drive to my campus and see the commons and the football stadium and the places I called home for freshman and sophomore year. It will be nice to be surrounded by native English speakers again, though I am going to miss the immersive language environment I had in Vienna that pushed me to improve my German skills and helped me learn so much in so little time. I have a feeling I’m going to accidentally speak German a few times in the next few weeks! I do miss the city of Fort Worth and all the places there that I have come to love over the past couple years. There are lots of new cafes and touristy sights that I have yet to explore- I will have many local adventures to go on next year!
Parting truly is such sweet sorrow. On my last day in Vienna, I returned to the hill behind Schönbrunn Palace one final time. My eyes filled with tears as I looked out over the familiar skyline and sights and acknowledged that I would be leaving the next day. It hurts to leave Vienna. I made a joke on my Instagram about leaving Vienna being like a bad break-up, and it really is. Moving on won't be easy, but the people, pets, and other things I mentioned in this list will help me as I face reentry and settle back into my life in the States. Bring on Blue Bell ice cream, Torchy's queso, cat snuggles, and lots of time with friends. See you soon, Fort Worth.
My first time at Schönbrunn- celebrating the end of German intensive with friends!
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<p>Hey, y'all! I'm a cat-loving music education major from good ole Fort Worth, Texas. I sing Brahms and Mozart, but I listen to Taylor Swift, Hamilton, and much more! (My Spotify playlists says a lot about me!) I enjoy traveling because I get to meet new people, experience new places, and try new foods (okay- I'm mostly in it for the food). Follow along to see what kinds of adventures (and mishaps) I find myself involved in!</p>