If you're reading this, chances are I'm back at home with my family in Upstate New York. Although my time in Vienna has come to a close--as I write this, I have only one full day left in the city--it hasn't fully dawned on me that I am going home. Finals are almost over, my suitcases are halfway packed, and I have a cab lined up to take me to the airport, but home feels almost as foreign as Austria did a little more than four months ago. This isn't to say I'm not excited to see my family, because I am, I'm more excited than I've been for anything in a long time. But now that I know and am relatively used to Austrian culture, I hope I won't have too much trouble getting thrown back into the American lifestyle. At least I speak the language in the States.
My sense of time regarding this semester has been totally shot. I feel like my stay in Vienna lasted both forever and no time at all; I was just at home, and have never been there.
I don't necessarily want to spend this post reminiscing about all of the things I will miss in Vienna, because there is nothing I can do about missing except remember. I would rather reflect on what I learned and what I didn't, as both of which are many. To start, I now have a much better sense of what I want for my life in the future. Before the semester started, I thought that maybe I would want to live in Vienna someday. Although Vienna is wonderful and I did live there successfully, I no longer see myself with a future in a big city. Vienna may be small as far as capitals go, but it is still too big for me. I think I am much more suited for a smaller town with less people and more open space, somewhere where I have a place in a community of people I care about.
Another reason I chose to study in Vienna was to see if I might want to focus my future career on music. I discovered that, although studying music has changed my life, English literature and creative writing are ultimately what I live for. I can't not work with words; ever since I was little, "Kelsie" equaled "writer" in my mind, and that association has only strengthened over the years. I am so glad I studied music this semester, and I wouldn't have done it any other way, but I realize now that it is not a path I plan on going down.
As for the bigger issues, those of a more personal nature beyond career choices, I'm not sure I can talk about them yet. Did I grow as a person at all? Am I more independent, more confident, more curious? I don't know. Maybe it is too early to tell. Maybe growth is something you can see only when you aren't in the thick of it. I don't know.
Vienna is among the most breath-taking and most interesting places I have ever seen. It is a city of culture, a city of influence, and a city of survival. I will never forget the things I have seen and done there, regardless of how much they may or may not have changed me. But I'm ready to go home. So, auf wiederschauen, Wien. Und bis bald.
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<p>Kelsie is a junior at Skidmore College, double majoring English and music. Her academic interests include creative nonfiction, piano performance, German language, and feminist theory. When she isn't in class or at the library, Kelsie spends her time playing piano, writing personal essays, knitting, or just curling up with a good book and a few cats. While studying in Vienna, Kelsie hopes to improve her German and piano skills, as well as immerse herself in Viennese culture.</p>