It’s no secret that I love Taylor Swift. She is an amazing artist and lyricist who has inspired me since the ripe age of ten years old. In her most recent album, Midnights, one song that particularly stuck out to me, especially when listening to it while abroad, was “You’re On Your Own Kid.” I felt particularly akin to this song, as being abroad has fostered the first time I felt like a truly independent adult. One of my favorite lyrics in the song is: “Everything you lose is a step you take, so make the friendship bracelets, take the moment and taste it, you’ve got no reason to be afraid.” I think this lyric represents some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned while being abroad in Vienna.
When you choose to study abroad, you leave behind friends and family, and while you make new friends, the relationships you had at home will continue on without you. That is one of the hardest realizations I came to while in Vienna, that people continued to make memories without me, and the situations I left behind would be different when I returned. While you partially realize this before going abroad, the reality of seeing those lives continue via social media can hit you harder than expected. You come to realize which friendships and relationships are the strongest ones, as you quickly can tell who is willing and able to put in the effort to continue to develop that relationship. But, if friendships weaken or you lose out on certain experiences, it is important to know that it is totally normal and studying abroad is pushing you to take new steps. I don’t regret the decision to study abroad at all, in fact, being abroad in Vienna made me want to return one day and maybe even study abroad again! Living in a foreign country makes you take self-discovery steps that you didn’t know you would, along with experiencing enriching new things and meeting amazing people.
Studying abroad broadened my circle of friends so much. Now I not only have friends back at home and at my university, but I have friends from all over the US, as well as friends from Austria. While making friendship bracelets in a new country, it is so important to put the work in to really make the most out of your experience. I was the only student from Duquesne University studying at IES Abroad: Vienna this semester, and that was a bit scary going into the experience. But not knowing anyone prior to the program forced me to step outside my comfort zone and make so many great friends. I now have people I can go visit in New Jersey, Chicago, back in Vienna, and more! What you put in is what you get out of it, and so if you seize the opportunity to make friends from all over while you’re abroad, you will.
“Take the moment and taste it” is my favorite line in this song, since it encapsulates so many emotions and experiences when it comes to studying abroad. While living abroad, you have the opportunity to seize every opportunity and say yes to so many new experiences that come your way. In order to make the most of your time abroad, I recommend saying yes to new things as much as you possibly can. I took a tango class in Barcelona, went to a ball, took a cooking class in Portugal, and danced the night away with my friends, all of which happened and I enjoyed because I said yes to new experiences. Tasting the moment to me means living life to its fullest, and this chapter in Vienna was so rich. This idea of tasting the moment is something I want to bring with me back to my life at home and at Duquesne since I've discovered how fulfilling life can be if we just put ourselves out there.
One final takeaway from my time in Vienna has been you have no reason to be afraid of new experiences. Taking the leap to study abroad has been the best decision I have ever made. It made me grow as a person, find amazing friends from all over the world, and prove to myself that I can do and succeed at hard things. There are definitely ups and downs during your time abroad, as there are in life, but the lows are worth the highs, and pushing through and being willing to not be afraid and try new things is the best thing you can do for yourself now and in the future. So, as Taylor Swift says, take the moment and taste it! Studying abroad with IES Abroad has been absolutely amazing and you won’t regret it.
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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!