Pro-tip: one of the best ways to make friends abroad is to make pancakes for them.
One of the most daunting things about going abroad, especially if you are the only person from your university going on a program, is making friends. But I am here to assure you that you will find your place!
I’ve been in Vienna for three amazing weeks now, each week more exciting than the last. My roommate, Molly, and I connected from the very beginning. We live in the first district of Vienna and have the perfect apartment layout, each having our own room and sharing a kitchen and bathroom. It’s the best of both worlds, we get all the benefits of having a roommate while also each having our own space.
One of the things we bonded on when first arriving was our shared love for dishes with truffles in them. Since then, our weekly grocery shopping and meal prep always include something with truffles: truffle ravioli, paninis with truffle brie and prosciutto, truffle chips, the list goes on…
IES Abroad has provided many opportunities for us to meet others in the program during orientation week and in the following weeks. During the first week of the program, we took day trips to Linz, Austria, and several factories of important businesses in Austria. In Linz, we had the option to choose the activity we participated in (I chose a food tour of Linz!) and then everyone went on a beautiful Danube River boat ride. On the business program day trip, we visited Sonnentor Herbs, Zwettler Brewery, and Winzer Krems Vineyards—all important and innovative businesses in Austria—and we had the chance to connect with others who would be in our classes.
Even as classes started and everyone’s schedules became increasingly busier, IES Abroad Vienna staff organized fun group outings such as coffee shop hops, thrifting in Vienna, and rock climbing. I attended the first Coffee Shop Hop, where we went to this cute little cafe in the 2nd district called Cafe Little Britain. It was so much fun connecting with new people in the program over coffee and delicious french toast.
Kaffeekultur is a very important aspect of daily life in Vienna. Viennese people will sit with their friends and family at coffeehouses and cafes all over the city, conversing over a Wiener Melange and an Apfelstrudel. A Wiener Melange is a Viennese coffee delicacy made with half espresso and half milk. It is similar in concept to a cappuccino but made with different espresso. Don’t ever tell a Viennese person that it’s the same as a cappuccino, though, they will be seriously offended. It has been very fun acclimating to this way of life with friends, and one of the best ways I’ve found to get to know people is to sit and chat with a pastry and a coffee.
As the only student in Vienna from Duquesne, I was certainly nervous about making friends at the start of the program. But I did not need to worry, because everyone here is so welcoming and kind! I’ve traveled with friends already to Salzburg, Lake Hallstatt, and Zagreb, Croatia, all of which were amazing destinations with amazing people.
Out of all of these enjoyable bonding experiences with friends, making a celebratory pancake dinner was certainly a highlight. Molly and I invited a couple of friends over to our apartment after we all finished our German Intensive class finals, and were ready to celebrate. And the best way to celebrate, of course, is with breakfast for dinner. Cooking for others is one of my favorite past times, so having the ability to share a meal with new friends was extremely rewarding for me.
So, long story short, if one of your worries about going abroad is finding friends, everything will work out! Even if it takes the delicious, wafting scent of pancakes throughout your apartment building, you will find your people.
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Hi! My name is Grace Heaton and I am thrilled to be studying abroad in Vienna during the Fall 2022 semester. I am an incoming Sophomore at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA studying Marketing, French, and German. In my free time I enjoy traveling, learning languages, listening to music, going to coffee shops, and adventuring with friends! I am excited to immerse myself in Austrian culture this fall, and can't wait to see where this journey takes me!