From the title and description of this blog you might begin to think my time abroad has already come to a close. To the relief of myself and my Mom, that is not the case whatsoever. While I have enjoyed traveling these past few weeks, March will be spent staying grounded in Rome. This is due to a few factors such as my friends and family visiting as well as IES Abroad field studies. But a simple truth is that traveling non-stop every weekend can lead to burnout. The stress of airports, hostels and the sense of unfamiliarity in an already unfamiliar environment has made me thankful to be spending more than one weekend in a row in Rome.
If the trip to Florence taught me how to prepare for a trip and London to prepare for when things go wrong, then Vienna has taught me how to travel frugally and with the lack of expectations. The first part is pretty straightforward, traveling is already an expensive ordeal so there is no need to inflate that cost exponentially. The second part requires a bit more exploration which will be given further on, how else am I going to get people to read the entirety of what I write? So, for the last time in our little journey, let me tell you some tips on travel.
Being a college student can be hard. A college student travelling can be even harder. I came into IES Abroad with money I had saved up from working at school (Campus Center!), my time as a camp counselor and so on. The money I have brought in is expected to last the five months I would be abroad and so before going anywhere, you want to set the budget for the journey. This can include food, any gifts or souvenirs to bring home as well as events and attractions to be done in the city, where you will be staying and your method of travel (plane, train, etc.). The two things I would recommend doing in any city are museums and parks. Every city in Europe has dozens of museums to visit from the Uffizi Gallery of Florence to the Vienna Museum of Natural History. Most, if not all, of these museums have student discounts though you want to check if it applies to all students or only students of the EU. Either way, the base ticket should not be more than twenty euro. Whether you are an avid museum lover like me, or even hold a mere curiosity, it is a cheap and effective use of your time. The next recommendation is any and all public parks. If you read my pre-departure blog post, then you know how much I love a good park and Europeans are no exception. Grab a book, find a nice park near a square, river or any other landmark and you have a relaxing midday activity. Soak up the atmosphere and enjoy your relaxation. Besides these two tips, every city will have something different to check out. My friend and I in Vienna managed to find thirty Euro tickets to a football match between two local clubs, and it was an amazing experience. Do your research, there is no need to spend a stupid amount of money when there is so much fun to be had for little cost.
Lastly, I want to talk about expectations. This somewhat builds off my tips from last week but the summary is that every experience you have does not need to be the best one of your life. I loved Vienna, Florence and London but no trip was without its hiccups. For Florence it was a lack of planning. For London it was a lot of bad luck. And for Vienna it was high expectations. Vienna was the city I had made my priority in visiting, and I truthfully had so much fun. But Vienna is a city like many others, and no city is perfect. This tip may sound more abstract than something to strike off a checklist but the most important tip for any journey you make is to not set yourself up for the greatest experience of your life. It may well be and I do not want to discourage that hope, but if things do not go your way, never let it ruin the journey as a whole.
This may not be the most optimistic blog post, but traveling is full of ups and downs. Stress, plans going wrong and anxiety are all part of it. But every experience teaches you something, no matter how small. This post may have been less flashy than my last two but I would say the tips I learned from Vienna are some of the most important. And to close this off I wanted to relay some wise words my friends Brett and Audry gave me from Ithaca (before they asked for a shoutout), “it’s definitely a journey, but it gets easier overtime.”
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Hey! My name is Ian and I am a junior at Ithaca College, where I major in history meaning long papers are my specialty. I play on my school's club ultimate frisbee team and we even went to the national tournament! I am from New York City so navigating public transit is a refined skill of mine. I am beyond excited and grateful for the opportunity to study abroad in Rome, eat amazing food and see places I've dreamed of seeing my whole life.