There is so much I haven’t written about, crucial parts of my time in Vienna. Grocery shopping several times a week, walking through the park in Margareten to go to the train station, biking for free because Vienna public services are amazing, and of course, classes.
I have mixed feelings about my classes. Some of my professors are very passionate about the material, others expect students not to care, all of them understand we are studying abroad so none of them take teaching too seriously. I appreciate their leniency, but I am also frustrated as one of many students here who is used to stricter deadlines and more concrete objectives for classes. I’m not prepared to go back to Emory for many reasons, but I’ll stop this rant.
I think I’m finally understanding and adapting to the slow, calm lifestyle of Vienna. I can walk at a leisurely pace, be more patient in train stations, and take time to sit outside to just think - without being on my phone! I know, what an obstacle I’ve overcome.
My tendency to compare continues and the more I think about it, the more I feel that Vienna is the best of both worlds: the best of New York City and the best of Atlanta. The city has the interconnected transit system, tourists, apartments, small grocery stores, and overwhelming number of museums like NYC. Simultaneously, there is the interspersing of green nature, clean fresh air (except smoking), complicated history of destruction and rebuilding, and fast changing neighborhoods of Atlanta. Not that NYC and Atlanta don’t overlap in these aspects, but I more closely associate each with what I have experienced.
Most notably is the people: inhabitants of Vienna are generally happy to help if approached. They understand that people have diverse backgrounds and kindly explain directions or give other advice. I have not been scolded, scowled at, or ignored for asking a question. Sometimes I have been looked at with curiosity for my green hair and otherwise colorful wardrobe, but usually people are more concerned with other things. People here, especially ages 25-45 or so, seem to want more people from other cultures to come here.
Of course, there are issues with the current center-right government, which has a coalition with the far-right. Austria’s acceptance of immigrants, people seeking asylum and refugees is not nearly where it should be, both legally and morally. There is much to criticize, but Vienna is not Austria, just as NYC and Atlanta are not the USA. Yes, there is a strong conservative current in the city, but I am shielded from xenophobia because of who I interact with, and because I am white. I’m not confronted by issues of race, ethnicity and religion head on because I am privileged not to be.
There’s much more to discuss on those thoughts but I do have more “light hearted” things to write about. With only four more weeks here, I am “squeezing the juice”: Donau Insel (Danube Island), Prater, restaurants, live music, theater, and more keep me busy. I try not to think about leaving, I try not to think about what I will do this summer. I think Vienna, I think here and now.
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Naomi Keusch Baker
<p>As a math and computer science major and music minor at Emory University, my passions range from increasing diversity and inclusion in technology industries to advocating for arts education. I want to combine my skills in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) to work toward social justice in my community and beyond. On campus, I am involved in Girls Who Code, the Interdisciplinary Exploration and Scholarship (IDEAS) Fellowship, Refugee Revive, Hillel and the Media, Literature and Arts Outreach (MLAO) themed house.</p>