Vienna now holds some of my favorite memories. Like a lot of other people, I was unsure at first if I wanted to go abroad for a summer. There were 2 main reasons. The first was that I was unsure if I wanted to spend the entire summer away from my family and friends. The second was whether the summer term was the right choice for me, did I want to have classes over the summer or would I rather do an entire fall or spring semester abroad? Now that I have completed the program I come back to these memories. Although being away from my friends and family was hard, I became fast friends with people that I may have not met otherwise. These people became the ones that I traveled the world with, and I was sad to be leaving them! When it came to having classes in the summer, I loved it! It may have been hot and some days the weather was so beautiful that I never wanted to be inside, but the professors are wonderful and do a great job of making you forget that you signed up to take classes instead of being on school break. The weekly workload is a bit heavier than a standard-length semester, but the professors make sure that you can manage the work with the ability to explore a new country. For me, six weeks was the perfect amount of time to go abroad. Like many of my fellow classmates, I grappled with homesickness that I may have had a lot harder of a time with had I elected to spend months out of the country. It was enough time that I was able to go on trips on the weekend and see many other countries, but I also had time to stay in Vienna and explore what I would have otherwise never seen.
If I were to do this program all over again, there is no doubt in my mind that I would. It may have looked a little bit different than this time, however. One thing that I would absolutely recommend is doing research about where you will be! Find things like museums or parks that you will want to visit so that you don’t struggle with what to do on the weekends. Look beyond the big guides of the tourist-y places, search for uncommon experiences or search the name of the city with one of you interests to see what they offer! I am a big fan of cats, so before I ever stepped foot on a plane, I knew the name and address of a few cat cafes around the city! Don’t feel nervous about reaching out to some of your future classmates! It might be nice to have a familiar face when coming to a new country. Learn some basic terms in the official language of the country. I made sure to start practicing my German before going to Vienna, and being able to order in German made me feel accomplished and whoever I was interacting with always responded positively!
Know that even a short trip can change you. I had an automatic reaction to mutter “entschuldigung” when moving around a person and got nervous when approaching a cashier in a grocery store and didn’t have a strategy for how I was going to bag things as fast as possible. These may have been little things but as I adapted to a new culture, I needed to allow myself time to readjust to my own.
A summer in Vienna is now something that I will recommend to everyone I can. It is one of the most beautiful places during the warm weather and sits in the middle of many cities that make great day trips. Now that I am home, I am thinking of excuses to go back!
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Hello! I'm Erin. I have a love for cats, pineapple on pizza, and travel! I'm a huge nerd about psychology and medical dramas. Along with being a television show binger, I am also a huge fan of reading and can finish a book in one sitting!