Returning Home with a Taste for Travel

Colin Baumgartner
July 31, 2013

A glimpse of Vienna––something I will miss seeing on my commute into the city every morning

After my IES Abroad was over I had decided to maximize my study abroad experience by traveling further on my own.  In the roughly two extra months after the program, I made my way to Italy, England, Scotland, France, and Belgium.  One thing that definitely sticks out is the passion and eagerness I’ve gotten for traveling.  Previous to study abroad I’d never really been one to go out much; I mainly preferred to stay at home and enjoy routines.  My first real break from this habit was a solo trip to Istanbul––something that was definitely going outside my comfort zone.  Though I had some initial reservations about going on my own, I dove into the experience and found myself flourishing as I interacted with people I met in the bustling city.

Camus once said, “what gives value to travel is fear… It is the fact that, at a certain moment, when we are so far from our own country… we are seized by a vague fear, and an instinctive desire to go back to the protection of old habits… At that moment, we are feverish but also porous, so that the slightest touch makes us quiver to the depths of our being.  We come across a cascade of light, and there is eternity.”  I don’t know that I my own experiences were quite as immediately profound as this, but I do find, as I continue to reflect on my experiences, that by pushing myself and traveling I gained a great appreciation for the world and a heightened sense of my place in it.  Further travel only increased my passion to explore more and more.  I now have plans to really explore more of the US and hopefully to visit China.

In terms of my experiences in Vienna itself: I thrived during my time in the city.  There was simply so much to be seen and taken in.  During my time there I survived on around 3-4 hours of sleep a night and somehow have never felt better.  Exploring the city by foot so that I could attempt to get to know every corner of the city was a personal goal (albeit a lofty one).  I spent a good bit of my time exploring the museums and galleries of Vienna and got my fill of opera and theater.  I would regularly come back to my flat drained of all energy and with aching limbs only to happily plan what I might get into the following day.  The new surroundings and the promise of new experiences and knowledge simply gave an enthusiasm that made the constraints of a normal sleep schedule irrelevant.

Regardless of my high levels of energy in Europe it did certainly feel great to spend a week at home relaxing and gaining some of the sleep I’d missed out on.  My only regret about studying abroad?  That I hadn’t thought to do it earlier…

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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>

2013 Spring
Home University:
Penn State University
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