Before departing on my year long stay in Vienna, I have millions of thoughts flitting in and out of the subconscious of my everyday. The troubling thing however, is that until quite recently none of these thoughts had any real connection to going abroad. It wasn’t until about a week ago, that the wet blanket of realization wrapped itself around my sunburnt shoulders, and two words rang loudly in space between my ears, shaking me to my core, “I’m leaving”. The implication of these simple words brought a handful of anxieties with them. How am I possibly going to move out of my house? What am I bringing? Should I just get rid of everything and buy stuff there? Should I bring everything and cut off my urban induced shopping habits? Will I even have time to shop? Will I understand Austrian German? My German is good don’t get me wrong, but it’s a known fact that Austrian German is different and notably more difficult to understand than the High German I’ve committed myself to these past five years. And have you seen German grammar? What if it all backfires, the packing, the arrival, the language, the life. What if it’s like two mismatched puzzle pieces, simply the wrong fit. I can almost imagine myself idiotically jabbing a U.S. made hair dryer plug into the small black eyes of an Austrian wall socket. Finally sitting back with a frustrated huff, I glance around, in a place I’ve never been, on a fresh timeline, what am I doing here?, I can imagine thinking to myself. It’s these anxieties that I work to push out as I mindlessly fold countless flannels and sweaters, placing them in boxes. How did I get so many freaking flannels?, I think to myself as I seal another banker box shut, soft plaid fabric bursting its seams. It was Value Village Katie, don’t lie to yourself, my conscience silently reminds me. I let out another lame sigh and keep folding.
I understand that at this point you may think that I don’t want to go to Vienna, and let me tell you that that’s not the case at all. Vienna has been been my beacon of light, my call to action, my pride and joy, and I want to leave. Not once have I considered not following through with studying abroad. Between my mother’s high school foreign exchange to Japan in 1983, my sister’s high school exchange to Argentina in 2007 and college study abroad to China 2014, and my high school exchange to Germany in 2011, going abroad is a bit of a trend for the women of my home. Of course, once I graduated from high school in 2013 my parents took the opportunity to make their overseas adventure a bit more permanent. They did this by moving to the vibrant Japanese capital of Tokyo, leaving their old life on the Big Island of Hawaii behind, and finding a new one as English teachers in the city’s most densely populated neighborhood. But of course there’s also my older sister, who a year after graduating college did almost just the same as my parents, taking root in Shanghai as an advisor to Chinese high school students eager to apply to ivy league colleges in the states.
“Who knew there was such a market”, my father happily exclaimed when she proudly told them the news.
“Now you’ll only be a two hour flight away,” my mother added, equally enthused with the fresh information.
I’m not sure what has always drawn my family to Asian countries, but even my grandparents met in Japan, and traveled Asia extensively. I enjoy Asia just as much as the next guy, but Europe on the other hand, Europe is where my interests lie. Where the cobblestone paths carry the scent of freshly baked bread, their recipes older than America itself. The continent where everything is somehow so familiar, yet so foreign, like living in a old song, or watching your favorite movie backwards. Germany, mainly Berlin, has acted as a sort of homebase for me as I have adventured in and around central europe in past years. Berlin-Tegel airport felt like a homecoming as I’ve walked down the jetway many a time, and was greeted by the familiar faces of friends I’ve come to adore. This attachment is what made it so much more difficult for me in my decision to switch things up, and try residing in another one of the many German speaking nations the world has to offer. I don’t know what will lie ahead for me in Austria’s capital, or if I will come to think of it as home, but as Tolkien once said, “not all who wander are lost”, and let me just say, I don’t plan on being found.
Follow me on my adventures if you dare.
Liebe Gruße, Katie
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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>