After our stint in Mariazell we finally headed to Vienna. My roommates and I were welcomed to our apartment with a wonderful dinner cooked by Carin, our RA, and a homemade Apfelstrudel from our landlady. Our apartment is in the seventeenth district, which is a little farther out than many of the others (our daily commute to the IES Center is just over half an hour). Yet, being farther away does come with its benefits: we have a balcony with a decent view and our rooms are reasonably large (much larger than a typical dorm room).
Our first three weeks in Vienna were divided between “German Intensive” and our personal explorations of the city and culture. Though I began in the afternoon class, I moved to the morning class after moving up a level. This left my afternoons free for visiting museums, sitting in Kaffeehauser, and just generally getting lost in the city.
Three hours of German a day sounds like a lot, but I found it easier than expected. Living in Vienna affords us the chance to take class trips like going to Kaffeehauser or the Naschmarkt, putting the things we learn in class everyday into practice. Learning a language while living it is so much fun! Opportunities to practice abound: taking the U-bahn, going to the store, eating at a restaurant, no matter where you go, the language surrounds you. I feel like my German ability has increased so much, just from those first three weeks!
My favorite museum so far was the Belvedere. They had an exhibit on Monet (and some other impressionist painters) while we were there, and it was absolutely mind blowing! Monet was one of the first painters I was exposed to as a child, and seeing his work in real life left me speechless. That same day I also attended my first opera: Salome. You can get standing room tickets at the Staatsoper for just 3-4 euros (depending on the section), and it is absolutely wonderful! I can’t wait to go back!
Another of the perks of living in Vienna is the fact that Vienna has a legitimate ball season, a tradition both young and old (and everyone in between) takes advantage of. The IES Students were invited to attend the Technical University Ball. We all dressed in our tuxedos and floor length dresses, and attended the fanciest event I have ever been to. The TU Ball took place in the Hofburg Palace (A ball? In a palace? I think all of my childhood dreams have come true!), and the attendees danced the night away on at least 5 different dance floors (each offering a different style of dance). My dancing for the evening (besides the IES guys) began when I accidentally joined a group to dance a folk dance that involved people going under arches (you know, when people make a tunnel you can walk through by holding hands above their heads? Not sure what to actually call that) and spinning around (can you tell that I really had no idea what was going on? Yeah…). The night didn’t end until three in the morning after I finished dancing a quadrille with a dashing young Viennese student, and I realized I had a German final in (checks watch) just nine short hours.
Living in Vienna means that there is never a dull moment. No matter the time or day – there is always something going on!
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<p>Fionna studies Anthropology and Molecular Biology at the University of Pittsburgh. Though she is originally from the Netherlands, she has spent the last ten or so years in California. Her free time is spent reading, horseback riding, nerding out about television shows, hiking, and dreaming of future travels and adventures. She is looking forward to spending her spring semester enjoying the life and culture in Vienna, Austria and the surrounding countries. </p>