While sitting in the kitchen of my dear friend’s West Philly apartment, he asked my favorite thing about Vienna. I had to think because there are so many things to love. After a few minutes, I settled on music. “It was so meaningful being a place where music, particularly classical music, is culturally valued and widely accessible,” I told him. I love that music history is alive in Vienna— how I could visit Mozart’s apartment and see some of his original scores. I loved seeing the Secessionist Building and seeing Klimt’s depiction of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony wrapped around the walls. Then my true favorite: the Staatsoper (State Opera). The Staatsoper is considered one of the best opera houses in the world, and I was able to get standing room tickets for any opera, any evening, for only 4-10 euros. Seeing art and music be so relevant and vibrant was very special to me.
I also loved the music that I was directly a part of. The Music Performance Workshop was one of my favorite parts of the IES Abroad Music program. In the workshop, we coached and performed Lieder, opera scenes, and chamber music. It was a wonderful experience to work with different voices and instruments, and to grow both individually and as a group. I also had the privilege of studying privately with Elizabeth Bice. Along with vocal instruction, she also shared her wisdom and homemade chai tea. With Elizabeth’s guidance, I was able to perform a 40 minute recital of all new music that I learned in Vienna. Some friends joined me in music-making onstage, and some supported me from the audience. I was even able to share this special experience with friends and family at home who tuned into the livestream.
I will also miss the accessibility of foreign travel. Some of the major places I visited include the following:
Prague, Czech Republic
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
In each of these places I have beautiful and hilarious memories with beautiful and hilarious people. It’s hard to believe that some of those things happened not only weeks, but months ago.
Now I am back in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, sitting in the same chair that I sat in while writing my first blog post for IES Abroad. In that post, I included this passage:
When you make homes in many places, with many people, there is always somewhere or someone from whom you are apart. I always miss that someone, and I always miss that home, whether it be Philadelphia, Gettysburg, Orvieto, or soon: Vienna.
Now I feel that sentiment perhaps even harder than I had expected upon first writing those words. The home in Vienna that I miss is now all too tangible: out of the U4 stop, a walk through the park, past the practice facilities and then Hofer. Through the first door, up a flight of stairs, then it’s ours. Our door. On it hangs a painting done by one of my roommates, Jenna Montes, featuring the six of us in Innsbruck.
Inside of our apartment I see the hallway. Make a right to the bathroom and kitchen, and go straight for the bedrooms. I see Emma’s French horn sitting by the bench. Rowan and Alexa’s door is cracked open just enough to spread a rectangle of light across the floor, and Jenna Pavis (we have two Jenna’s in our apartment) is sitting in the kitchen with a plate of buttered and salted spaghetti. Soon, we’ll all be in the kitchen laughing, cracking the window open for air, and closing it in fear of being too loud and disturbing our neighbors across the courtyard. There in the kitchen we’ll bake apple crisp, paint apartment art, host guests, drink wine, and prepare for a ball. In the kitchen, we will cry and laugh and exist forever in the time that is ours.
My roommates and I, who come from various places across the United States, already have a plan to meet up during our spring breaks.
Before signing off of my last blog post, I’d like to share a final sentiment. The day before I left Vienna, I spoke with a friend from home who, two years ago, did the same IES Abroad program that I was finishing. I told him that leaving this place and these people is simply unfathomable. How could we build relationships and homes and then just leave? Although grateful, my heart ached deeply for everything and everyone I knew I would soon come to miss. In a moment of quiet, he said, “You will always have Vienna. Sometimes I walk the streets in my thoughts before going to sleep.”
It is beautiful to know that there is a place in the world where you can always return. Vienna— I’ll be back sooner than either of us can imagine.
P.S. My mint plant’s new home is with my voice teacher, Elizabeth, who has a beautiful home and beautiful garden.
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<p><span style="color:#333333">I am Brittney Sedgwick, a rising junior studying Music Performance at Gettysburg College. I sing classical music: art song, opera, chamber music, and more. Before attending Gettysburg, I spent four years studying creative writing. I love reading poetry, drinking tea, going for sunset walks, and stargazing. </span></p>