Knowing my summer in Vienna is over has been a bit of a hard pill to swallow. I think it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, and the lifestyle, freedom, and cities were unlike anything I’d experienced before. Though I’m still traveling around Europe at the moment, the weight of this particular ending still feels pretty heavy. I’m missing the people, classes, routine and everything else in between. I came to view Vienna as home (a little cliché, I know) but the gut-feeling of safety and happiness there really grew to be something quite meaningful for me. It almost feels like I was living in a different reality, and now I’m about to be shot back into a completely different world. Though things will be a lot different back home, I’m still looking forward to heading back to the States (even if I'm feeling homesick for Vienna).
One of the things I miss the most (surprisingly) is my German class! My professor was seriously the best I’ve ever had (shoutout to Jana) and I’m missing all the cultural immersion opportunities where I could practice my conversation skills with both friends and locals. I’m currently in Paris, and I keep accidentally speaking German when I try to converse in French, showing me that I really, truly miss the constant influx of German media. I also miss the Vienna metro system! No other city compares that I’ve seen so far, and I’m kind of dreading the completely-lacking U.S. public transportation system.
One of my other favorite things about Europe was being able to country-hop on the weekends. The thing I’ve realized about the U.S. is the pure size of it in comparison to Europe. Since I’m from Washington state, I put everything in reference to that throughout the trip, so when I saw food that was from Austria, it basically was like saying your food was from Western Washington (which is SO local). I think the small size of each country mixed with the rich cultures and long histories allows for really interesting distinctions between each place. That made it so fun to travel, seeing which countries we could find similarities between and how they differed from each other as well.
Throughout the trip though, my friends and I also grew an appreciation for many things in the States. The things most frequently discussed that we really missed were ice cubes, free water, and free public bathrooms. All of these things were little luxuries that we didn’t even realize we had! Some other things I look forward to are being able to drive my own car, Costco (or basically any grocery store that’s bigger than the tiny European stores), and for me personally, really good Mexican and Asian food since the area I come from is full of amazing restaurants.
Overall, this experience has made me realize that there are good things and bad things about everywhere, no matter how romanticized the place may be. I found it interesting that some of the most “famous” places that I visited were some of my least favorite. The completely packed cities like Venice were overcrowded and too tourist-focused in my opinion, making the less crowded and more local places much more my speed (read my other blogs to find out more about this!). Though there are so many amazing things I learned about Europe, I’m really interested now to see how this next chapter of time back in the U.S. will play out post-study abroad! Thanks for tuning in to read about my experiences, and I hope they can inspire you to go experience a different part of the world :)
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Hi! I'm Madeleine Sherry and I'm a junior at Whitman College majoring in Mathematics. I'm a captain of the lacrosse team and a member of Delta Gamma on campus. In my free time, I love to read, spend time outside, and hang out with friends!