Sunny Beaches in SoCal, to Ballrooms in the Snowy City of Dance. But What Else is Written on the Next Pages Ahead?

Blake Nicholas headshot
Blake Nicholas
August 21, 2023

The day when I venture out into the world and leave behind my friends, family, communities, and country in exchange for my brand-new journey has finally come. I expect that this new chapter of my life will be transformative in bolstering my self-confidence, independence, and self-sufficiency. From studying abroad, I hope to learn about Austrian and Viennese history, customs, politics, art, current events, attitudes, and my place within this geopolitical and sociocultural context. I am optimistic that I will meet new people from all over the world and create lifelong friendships. However, my peregrination will begin with almost nothing but my passport and general plans to swiftly ski down the Austrian Alps in Salzburg like Lindsay Vohn at the 2010 Olympic Games (but maybe just slightly below her technical caliber…just slightly).

Since I have really nothing to compare to moving to another country, I’ll use the commonplace transition to college to reference my current thought process of what the main challenges in my journey ahead could look like. I noticed that one of the most difficult parts of moving to college was not the leaving part of the transition to college, but the staying. I grew up in San Diego, California. Therefore, moving from San Diego to Los Angeles for college was somewhat of a transition, but I was only about two-and-a-half hours away from my hometown when I was at college. In my first semester of college, I only went home for Thanksgiving, and my parents would instead come up and visit me whenever I felt homesick. What is a bit ironic is that sometimes my parents visiting me made the transition to college even more challenging because I felt as though I was losing my sense of independence each time they visited. Since I will be unable to make trips back home to San Diego or have my parents visit me for the next four months, perhaps the transition could counterintuitively be easier. This is because I will not have Miss Americana’s “You’re On Your Own Kid” reminder come up as frequently. On the other hand, I am not naïve to the prospective reality that I will not have my parents there to ground me. This is especially true when the glamour of Vienna starts to wear off like copper that is life unveiled beneath a shiny gold overcoat of limitless opportunity.

But enough talk about what could be tough. What may be tough. And what hasn’t even happened yet. I’ve lived on my own for the past two years and I’m moving to Vienna, Austria, for crying out loud. How exciting! I am eager to demonstrate applied knowledge on field trips to captivating attractions like the Kunsthistorisches Museum and St. Stephens Cathedral in my art history class, Austrian Art and Architecture. I cannot wait for the enchanting day when I hold my breath exuberantly bracing for joy as I glide down the largest underground slide in the world, on my trip to the city of Graz. Viewing some of the quintessential, world-famous opera performances for my Arts Criticism class in journalism will be riveting. I’m sure of it.

Overall, while my semester in the City of Dance will be a transformative, fascinating, and fun experience, it will also be a learning experience. In my Existentialist Philosophy class at Occidental, I was introduced to a philosophical theory that theorized that when one learns more about the world, one learns more about people’s fundamental traits. I hope that after my semester studying abroad, my examination of Austrian culture with this lens will help me learn more about our essence as humans as part of my education in philosophy and knowledge for life.

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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
Home University:
Occidental College
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