I often have trouble when reflecting back on my life just three, even four short weeks ago. I’ll stop walking in the streets to look up at a church or yell at a catcaller, and reflect on sitting in my big old six bedroom hostel of a home, or playing Pokemon Go, while walking to work at my university bookstore (which I can assure you sees business in summer), and it feels like a lifetime ago. I miss Bellingham, and it’s strange to think that in two weeks the dorms will begin to fill with freshmen, trekking suitcases filled with Target bed sheets and Lana del Rey posters. And my old bedroom will have a new inhibitor filling its closets with assorted junk, and life, in so many words will replace the sleepy summer vibes of my college town. Well that doesn’t feel strange, the strange part is that I won’t be there to see it.
The question I’ve asked/been asked most since arriving in Austria is, why Vienna? What in this great green earth brought you to the decision to get on a plane, sit for ten hours, and get off here? Most of the answers can be expected, stemming from a form of Austria is centrally located so great for traveling, or I have friends and/or family from Austria, or the best answer so far being, I don’t know, Spain looked too hardcore. I chose Vienna due to connections, not only with Germany, but also German.
“Ach, Katie don’t do that,” my dear friend Johannes said to me when I told him the news about my relocation, “Berlin is better and you know it”. Is it though? For so long I thought of myself as the girl who loves Germany, the girl who has friends in Germany, or the girl who speaks German. But how could I know my preferences if I’d only ever tasted one flavor? I knew that wherever I ended up going I wanted to continue speaking German. There was no use starting that process over again. I also knew that I wanted to be nearby Germany, as to not stray too far from the familiar nest I’d slowly been building since I was 15. Everyone expected me to go to Germany. Even in my last days in the States, I recall people running up to me,
“You’re gonna kill it in Germany!”,
“Austria”, I’d respond.
“Oh same difference” they’d say back. Is it though?
Ask an Austrian that and they may or may not spit on you. Ask a tourist and they may or may not be able to recall where Germany begins and Austria ends in the whirlwind of churches, bread and well dressed citizens. Ask an American and they may or may not think you’re referencing the island continent of Australia.
“You’d be surprised how many care packages wind up down there”, one of the student advisors said to our group at orientation. “Just make sure your parents write Austria then Europe below it when writing the address”. In response I let out a cackle that generated concerning stares directed my way.
Of course as I near the end of IES Abroad’s mandatory three week German intensive program, and fall weather gradually takes the city’s hand, Australia is looking more and more attractive each day.
After our German intensive exams we get a week break in which I’ll be traveling to Denmark to kiss summer goodbye in scandinavian style. In mid-september the students of Vienna will made their way back to their ancient academic halls, and like the baby-faced freshmen wandering out into the academic unknown, our school year will also have officially begun. I guess somethings don’t have to feel so different after all.
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<p>My name is Katie Holdcroft and I am a junior at Western Washington University. I am originally from Seattle Washington, but was raised on the Big Island of Hawaii. I enjoy sarcasm, making music on my ukulele, reading books that make you think, and writing about the strangeness of strangers. I like coffee slightly more than people, and cats slightly more than coffee. Traveling is my passion and my inspiration to be content with all that there is to be, but mostly I do it to look cool on social media.</p>