The Journey Begins: Austrian Departure

Colin Baumgartner
January 7, 2013

I come from an Austrian background so I’ve been to Austria nearly every summer.  My father’s family lives in upper Austria, so I usually visit for near a month as soon as school lets out.  Austria is truly beautiful in the summer––the alps are covered with flowers of every colour, morning doves nest in the trees around my grandparents’ house, and the lush countryside is green and full of life.  Though it is brilliant to visit Austria over the summer, I feel that I’ve only skimmed the surface of everything Austria has to show.

I signed on for study abroad in Austria because I want a fuller picture of what Austria is like.  Pictures of Europe during the winter months have always been alluring to me and I want to be able to wander through what I’ve only been able to see in pictures.  Wien was a natural choice because the city is simply brimming with the richness of life.  I’ve spent a day in Wien, but in a day you cannot possibly experience even a fraction of what the city has to offer.  I want to live deeply in Wien and to get to the marrow of the city––the art, the history, the people, the food; I want to immerse myself in the city.

After a slightly worrying mixup with my passport, I was relieved to receive my visa in the mail.

I’ve been quite busy finishing up the Fall semester at PSU and haven’t had all that much time to think about my upcoming study abroad.  It wasn’t until around a day before leaving that it really hit me: I would be leaving for Europe in a little over 18 hours!  Thinking about what this meant was heavy––and not just in terms of mental preparation.  Yes, alas, I hadn’t actually started packing.  In the evening I scrambled to throw some things together and when I felt more or less like I’d covered everything, I brought my suitcase to the door.

The Austrians are renowned for their cakes and pastries according to Alfons Schuhbeck––something I intend on verifying personally.

Some friends came over the following morning to see me off.  It was sad to be parting, but it was great to see them one last time before I left.  We said our farewells for the next 7 months and I headed off toward the airport.  As I sat in the airport waiting for the TSA officers to open the security line I had some time to reflect.  I will be staying with family over the winter holidays.  I hope to  delve into the Austrian Christmas atmosphere––through Lebkuchen, Glühwein, Christkindlmärkte, the music, and the beautiful winter scenery.  After the holidays it will be off to Wien for the start of my IES experience…

The view from the plane window


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Colin Baumgartner

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Colin Baumgartner is a Junior studying to be a secondary English education teacher. Colin grew up as a second generation Austrian and has always had a distinct sense of being split between two cultures&ndash;&ndash;Austrian and American. Studying abroad in Vienna, Colin will have an opportunity to really explore the Austrian side of his heritage. When not buried in literature or writing, Colin enjoys blogging, hiking, cooking, working out, and traveling. Colin is an unabashed aesthete and gourmand, so the beautiful foods, sights, and people of Europe will not go unnoticed or unrelished. Dum vivimus, vivamus!</span></p>

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