It is amazing how fast a place can become home.
After just a couple weeks in Vienna I knew I loved the place, but I could not have imagined how hard it would be to leave it after just a couple more months.
I will miss almost everything about Vienna: the coffee, the kebab and käsekrainer, the beautiful buildings, the accesibility of countless of other places, the natural spaces, the public transportation (believe me, it's AMAZING), and, of course, the people most of all. I think the only thing I won't miss is the lack of shopping on Sundays... Seriously - who has time to go for groceries on any other day?! (I might be holding just the tieniest grudge)
It's funny to think back on all the things I worried about before arriving. The language was no problem, as most students had had less experience with German than I did, and most of the locals had an above and beyond grasp of English. My worries about the clothes I would bring are completely laughable now - though the Viennese might stare a bit if you walk through town in your workout clothes, it's nothing to squirm about. They'll stare at you anyway. It's just something the Viennese do (especially on the public transport), so just stare back. Comfortably. While wearing the clothes you want to wear. I still remember the twinge I felt when I realized how far away from the IES Center I would be living. My thoughts all stemmed from "Oh. My. Gosh. How will I survive that commute???" Yet, I quickly realized how happy I was that I didn't live right in the center. It allowed me to see more of the city (because who living in the 5th district, would ever see the 17th?), and get a sense of what it would actually be like to live in the city. I was actually able to leave the American bubble some of us get trapped in.
My main piece of advice to anyone planning on studying abroad, no matter where they go, would be to find some way to meet and hang out with locals. If you can't get a language buddy through your program, find one on your own. Plenty of people went on Tinder, and met people that way. There are entire websites dedicated to matching people with compatible language goals - I met a someone I hope to stay friends with for a long time through one. My friends and I also met the coolest guy at the second ball we went to (the Sports Ball). We ended up meeting up with him a couple times after, and had a blast every time we saw him. I think the best way to meet local people is to get involved in the community life through activities, whether those are sports, balls, or other. Vienna has a Sports University, in which people can sign up to join sports teams. I was not able to do my sport in that way, but I still managed to find an organization separate from IES where I could. Though it is incredibly humbling to join a team doing something you love to do, but to understand so little of anything happening around you, some of my best memories of Vienna come from participating with this group.
My time in Vienna is one that I will treasure forever. I have learned so much about both myself and the world, and I honestly still can't believe it is actually over. My adventure in Europe is not yet through, as I still have a month and a half of traveling and visiting remaining, but next time I am back in Vienna it will only be to visit my friends. After that I will go back to the reverse culture shock that I know awaits me in the States. Of course I will be happy to return to my family and friends, but I know a part of me will remain in Vienna, the city that I love. (Please excuse my sappiness - I feel like I can indulge just this once!)
I guess this means it's time to say Tschüssi-baba, and Auf Wiedersehen. Vienna: It's been great.
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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>
University of Pittsburgh