By the time this is posted, I will have been in Vienna for a week already! It’s crazy that 1/6 of my study abroad experience is already over! So I just wanted to update everyone on my thoughts so far.
First of all, there are a few things that are somewhat difficult to get used to. Besides the fact that everyone is speaking German, it’s not a cultural norm to smile at people. Not only is my resting face a smile, but somehow I am supposed to not smile while I am experiencing this beautiful city that amazes me more and more every day. That’s definitely an odd thing to adapt too. Another thing that is MUCH different from the U.S. is that no one here seems to be in a hurry. For example, if you are sitting at a restaurant and you get done eating, normally in the U.S., the waiter would bring your check. Here you have to ask for your check. The other day I got breakfast and literally sat at this café for an hour and a half before asking for my check. No one tries to rush you out and no one cares if you sit there all day. Also, catching the subway (here it’s called the U-Bahn). If the doors close and you are about to miss the train, you just have to press the door open button and get on. Then after the doors close again there is a good 30-second window of waiting time to make sure no one misses it. It is great not having to rush all the time, and definitely something I could get used to.
This week marked the beginning of classes. I am taking two classes while I’m here: Novice German and Health Psychology & Communication Skills. German was, to be quite honest, extremely intimidating. I made it through the first couple days and feel like I learned some things, but I also got a lot of information thrown at me. The other class, Health Psychology and Communication Skills is really cool because the professor has an interesting set up. The first three weeks are lecture and introduction to the material and the second three weeks, we are split up into two groups and are doing lots of role plays and hands on learning. We will use the second half of the class to put into practice what we learned in the first half. Both of my professors are great. I like when you can tell how excited a professor is to teach a class, and both of these professors possess that quality. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the semester holds.
As far as things outside class, Saturday was fantastic! We had to be at the IES Abroad Center at 10am to finish up orientation. Part of orientation included a walking tour of places around the IES Abroad Center that may be of use to us including shops that sell notebooks, pharmacies, ATMs and other useful places. On the walking tour we also stopped for ice cream, so that was pretty delicious. The walking tour ended at a bus stop, where we got on charter buses and took a three hour ride around the city, learning about the culture and history of Vienna. It was great going through the different districts and seeing the sights. The bus tour took us up a huge mountain where we got a view of the ENTIRE city of Vienna. I took a few pictures, but the pictures don't do it any justice. It literally took my breath away. On the way back down the mountain, we were dropped off at a wine tavern for dinner. We got a chance to experience Viennese foods (I tried blood sausage!) and we got to drink wine and socialize with our classmates, professors, and the IES Abroad staff. This was extremely laid back and really made me comfortable in my new setting. After dinner we had to find our way home on our own, which we did successfully! The entire day helped us to dive directly into the city, it's history, it's culture, and maneuvering it on our own.
Some other things I did this week, were, first of all, grocery shopping. Grocery shopping is sometimes overwhelming to me in general, but when everything is in German, it was a little more overwhelming. Luckily, one of my roommates speaks German, so if I got totally confused she would help. I also went to the Naschmarkt, which is the farmer’s market. It had everything from clothing and little trinkets to flowers, spices, fruit and more! There was even a butcher shop and a few restaurants. Things seemed to be reasonably priced for the most part, so I plan to be visiting that place a lot more! Plus it is only 2 U-Bahn stops from my apartment. For the rest of the week, I am currently planning on going to the Narrenturm tomorrow, which is a place that used to be a psychiatric hospital, but now houses a Pathologic-Anatomical Museum! It’s only two euros to go, so a couple friends and I are going after class! I am also taking a weekend trip to Prague this weekend! I’m so excited for this trip. We got everything booked and for a round trip train ticket and two nights at a hostel it was only 80 euros. Everything here seems to be cheap and somewhat close together, so I’m sure I’ll be taking many more weekend trips before my time here is up!
I’ll be writing again in a few days probably to share my experiences at the Narrenturm, Prague, and any other places I may decide to go between now and then!
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<p>Hi everyone! My name is Erika Coy and I am so exciting to be blogging for IES Abroad. Let me tell you about myself. My hobbies include going places I have never been and doing things I have never done, and I also enjoy crossword puzzles. I am outgoing and love sharing my experiences with everyone. Happy reading!</p>