Fast-Paced Metropolitan Life to My Comfy, Suburban Home for the Holidays: But Now What?

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Blake Nicholas
December 25, 2023
Image of Snowy Church

Childhood normalcy has finally returned to my life again. I have been back for about a week, and it feels delightful to be back home for the holidays. However, a large part of me feels a bit lost as well. I was always busy in Vienna with museum tours, schoolwork, field trips, dance classes, social activities, general errands, and independent adventures. Now, there is a bit of a slowness to my life back home during winter break. I knew I would be forced to confront what some of my next steps would be when my life in Vienna ended.

When I reflect on my abroad experience, I feel no regret whatsoever. I met the goals there that I sought to attain. I wanted to live in an apartment in a new city where I was forced to do adult things and was able to make my life what I wanted it to be. I learned to grocery shop in a place where everything is in another language and figured out how to book hostels and flights on my own. I also found it useful to take classes that made it obligatory to become a part of the culture. For example, my Austrian Art and Architecture class took weekly excursions to museums and art sites within Vienna, which forced us to explore Vienna’s art history scene. Some experiences were completely different than I ever anticipated. I did not expect my classes to be so rigorous while abroad, but I am thankful I was challenged in a way that contributed to my college education.

Naturally, there are always things that one feels could have gone differently. Surely I could have traveled to more countries outside of Austria while I was there. However, then that could have detracted from the experience of living in Austria. Sometimes I think back and wish that I had been less stressed at moments, but it is so easy to do that when I do not feel the pressure now that it is over.

I think the number one lesson I learned while I was abroad is that life truly is a collection of consolidated events. It is up to me to decide what I want to get out of these experiences and what I can do to contribute to the experiences of others. I believe that being abroad taught me this because when a person is in a new environment, the world becomes his or her oyster. A fresh start means a complete reset and compels that person to confront how they want to shape their new life in the fresh location.

I still feel a bit adrift. So much of my life this year was applying and preparing for and anticipating my internship last summer and then going abroad in the fall. Still, I built the confidence within myself to shape my life in Vienna, so now I can trust myself more to accomplish whatever goals lie on the pages after my life in the Snowy City of Dance.

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Blake Nicholas headshot

Blake Nicholas

I was born and raised in San Diego, CA, and go to Occidental College located in Los Angeles. I am a philosophy major and an interdisciplinary writing minor. In most my free time, I like to dance. My favorite styles of dance are ballet and lyrical :)

2023 Fall
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