Pre-Departure and Orientation: Austria 2015

Erica Spear
August 24, 2015

Servus! Welcome to my IES Blog. My name is Erica, and I'll be blogging for the Vienna Music program this Fall 2015 semester. I first set my eyes on the IES program four years ago, my freshman year, and have never looked back since. I still cannot believe that this is finally happening; that I am now here, in Austria!

Prior to leaving the United States, I spent a good bit of my summer preparing for the trip. An abundance of online forms were filled out and submitted, I obtained my Austrian Visa at the consulate in Washington, D.C., and worked a summer job to save up some "fun money" for my time abroad. Though many things were pointed towards this trip, it didn't really hit me--until I had to pack. Packing for four months was quite a lesson in necessities versus luxuries--I was so happy when I finally fit everything in one suitcase, a duffle bag, and my flute gig bag.

My flight was split in two legs; first, from Raleigh to Newark, then from Newark to Austria. My flight was in the morning, so we packed the car, I gave many hugs and kisses to my dog, and we set off for the airport. Everything went smoothly (my checked luggage was under 50 pounds!) and I was off. In Newark, I met one of my roommates and we had great conversation during our layover, which made the time spent in Newark much more enjoyable. Shortly before boarding, I met more students from the program as well. We were greeted by the friendly Austrian Airlines flight staff, and I certainly enjoyed the soundtrack of Strauss waltzes as we waited to take off.

Upon arriving in Vienna, I was quite jetlagged and tired, but so happy to see the students who I would be spending the next four months with. We congregated in a rather large group in the airport, chatting and grabbing snacks before we boarded the bus for a three-hour trip to Mariazell, a small town in the Styrian region of Austria.

Orientation was wonderful, and quite literally, a breath of fresh air. We were surrounded by the gorgeous Austrian Alps--the greenery was vast. I have always seen pictures of the snow-capped Alps, so it was incredibly nice to see them in the summer. They even reminded me of my home school, Appalachian State University, which is nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina. I feel very much at home in the mountains after spending four years at school--so the comfort factor made the transition and reality of being in a new country much easier. The bus trip may have been long, but it gave us the opportunity to see how naturally beautiful the country of Austria truly is. I met many more students at orientation (this being much easier after showers and sleep) where we received much information about our program, toured the Mariazell Basilica and town, visited the gorgeous Erlaufsee, went on short hikes, and even learned the Viennese Waltz.

After three days, it was time to head back to Vienna -- where we are now! All of us are settled in our apartment homes and looking forward to exploring the city. I am feeling incredibly fortunate to be living in such a wonderful city--and I can't wait to take in all that it has to offer, as well as the rest of the country. Until next time...tchuss!


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Erica Spear

<p>Erica is a senior at Appalachian State University, where she is double-majoring in Flute Performance and Music Education at the Hayes School of Music. At school, she is heavily involved in performing and teaching, at the university and in the surrounding area. Erica has a fairly global background, having family worldwide and being raised as a bilingual speaker (English and Japanese) but this is her first time abroad in Europe. She is looking forward to immersing herself in Viennese culture and embracing all of the art and history that the city has to offer. In her spare time, she enjoys running, yoga, cooking and baking, hiking, dancing, various creative outlets, and being introduced to new people and activities.</p>

2015 Fall
Home University:
Appalachian State University
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