7 Tips from the 1st 2 Weeks of My Viennese Summer

Elisabeth Bolton Headshot
Elisabeth Bolton
June 5, 2024

2 weeks in Vienna


Time goes by so quickly over the summer semester! Next week will be midterms for my classes, and I have already planned some trips for my upcoming weekends. The past two weeks have been so much fun, and every single day has been so meaningful. With that, I want to share a few tips from my first two weeks about studying abroad. 


  1. First, summer classes are fast-paced, so you have to stay on top of your readings and assignments! Make time after classes to study with friends in a new cafe or grab lunch or coffee to-go and go to your favorite study spot. Having schoolwork out of the way and out of your mind means you don’t have to stress about not having it done, and you can be more present while you explore your city. 


  1. Next, do not feel pressured to go to every generic club. I have been to a couple in Vienna and had a fun time, but, honestly, in my opinion you can go clubbing everywhere. It won’t be that special if you go every night or every other night. And trust me: you do not want to blow your budget on cover fees and expensive drinks!


  1. Another thing to consider is traveling. I would say, take the time to get to know your city during the week, because it is your home base! Finding new favorite places and visiting new parts of the city is so fun, and there is truly something amazing around every corner here in Vienna. I love to play tourist and make days out of sightseeing in Vienna after classes or on days where I don’t have class. Schönnbrunn Palace is a great place to spend a day (or half a day), and the city center is a really fun place to explore sightseeing. Most of the sightseeing in Vienna is around the Ringstraße or the Ring Road, so you can see a new palace or explore a new museum every day of the week!


  1. My weekends are most likely going to be spent traveling. Some people like to travel on weekends while other like to get to know their host city. Either will give you a great experience, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to spend lots of money on trips to other cities or countries. Don’t compare your experience to anyone else’s – it’s yours! 

That said, there are some great day trips you can make from Vienna for pretty cheap! Last weekend, I took a bus to Budapest, Hungary and it was a really charming city (although Vienna is still my favorite). You can also easily reach Bratislava, Brno, Prague, Hallstatt, and Bled by train or bus. If you want to spend some time in nature, I have heard that Salzburg and Innsbruck are great for hiking. Trains and buses seem to be generally reliable here, but there can be some quirks, which brings me to my next point:


  1. If you book a train ticket on the ÖBB Railjet, you should probably pay the extra few euros and also reserve a seat. Why? Well, if you don’t, and the train’s seats are full, you may have to sit on the floor of the train for your whole journey. Some of my friends had this unpleasant experience because no one told us about reserving the seat on the train separately, and unless you just want a fun story to tell, I would just pay the extra few euros for a seat. 


  2. Learn a little bit of German while you are here, and learn the interesting history of Vienna! I do not speak German, and I’m not taking a German class here at IES Abroad, since it is not required during the summer. However, learning how to say hello, goodbye, please and thank you, and how to order food and ask for the bill has been so helpful, and Austrians generally appreciate your effort. I think it’s just respectful to try to speak the language of the host country you are in. You are, after all, a guest in their home country. In addition, learning about the history of Vienna has been really interesting, and there are so many fun museums to check out to learn more about the Hofburg family and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. My Psychology and Society in Vienna class has taught me a little bit about how Viennese culture influenced the birth of psychoanalysis, and it has been super cool to learn have that perspective. 


  1. Finally, the most important thing is that you make time to take care of your needs. Do you need alone time to recharge? Plan for that! Do you need to pack snacks for class? Plan for that! I am often so in awe of this beautiful city that I end up forgetting to go to bed at a reasonable time or forgetting to eat normal meals, and it made adjusting to life in Vienna a little bit harder at the beginning. The things I found most important to keep up with for me and my needs were:
  • Remembering to fill up my water bottle and bring it with me when I leave the house.
  • Buying groceries to save on eating out and make sure I have breakfast before class and snacks to bring with me.
  • Making time in the morning and at night to meditate and ground myself. 
  • Trying to go to bed at a reasonable time (not staying up on Facetime talking with my friends and family). 
  • Making friends, and inviting them to my plans often (helps to create a support system while you are abroad). 

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Elisabeth Bolton Headshot

Elisabeth Bolton

Hi! I'm Elisabeth, and I'm a psychology major and neuroscience minor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. This is my first time traveling abroad! My favorite things to do in my free time are journaling, taking walks, and scrapbooking!

2024 Summer 1
Home University:
University of Tennessee - Knoxville
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