You are here

A Week of Travel

February 19, 2018

Contradictions are everywhere: Europe is a vast land with diverse cultures and landscapes. Every country, city and village boasts a unique personality, yet similarities are often more powerful than differences. I tend to understand new experiences by making connections to the familiar, so throughout a week of travelling, I couldn’t help but think “this is just like Vienna” or “we have that back home.” In fact, I realize that part of why I haven’t had much culture shock or a period of adjustment to life in Vienna is my habit of drawing parallels. For example, the abundance of cultural opportunities, historical significance of buildings and large population are not new to me. This leads me to believe that similarities among cultures are as significant as differences.



Throughout a week of traveling, I found nearly identical architecture, clothing and food. Even though Graz, Salzburg, Munich and Prague are geographically close and have interconnected histories, I expected to find more differences. Graz and Salzburg felt like “mini Viennas” to me and Munich is another large, German-speaking city. Prague seemed the most defined, with its own language and influence of communism from its time in the Soviet Union. Much fewer people speak English and the layout of the city was unique to me, but I did not feel much more out of place than in Vienna.



As a disclaimer, I find these similarities interesting, not disappointing. Each city retains its own characteristic features. Graz, the second largest city in Austria, had a modern exhibit at its art museum focussed on Muslim women. I climbed Schlossberg, a fortress used in times of war, but currently a recreational area for hiking. Salzburg is famed for Mozart’s birthplace, where I saw his childhood violin and locks of his hair. I also saw some of the sites used in The Sound of Music. The hills were not alive, but the snowtops were breathtaking.



Presented in this video are parts of my time in Munich (München) and Prague (Praha). In Munich, we saw the Rathaus Glockenspiel and climbed St. Peter’s Church. I split a giant pretzel and beer with my travel buddy at Brauhaus, a five-hundred-year-old beer house! We visited the largest castle in Germany, the Residenz. We were only in Munich for a day and I definitely want to return.



In Prague, I explored the old Jewish quarter and visited several synagogues. I am glad I was able to glimpse into Jewish life before World War II and learn about different levels of discrimination and acceptance throughout history. The Spanish Synagogue was especially lavish, but others were more modest. We went to Prague Castle (a whole day event), which consists of multiple museums in castles, St. Vitus Cathedral and a row of small apartments where goldsmiths, herbalists and artists, including Franz Kafka, lived. Our last special moment was under Charles Bridge, which is about six hundred years old! We walked across the landmark three times. On our last night, there was a festival for Faschingsdienstag (Fat Tuesday), which comes before Lent. Live music, food and drink and people of all ages in costume filled the space. It was a wonderful way to end our trip.



Buses, hostels, a host family, and living on bread and granola bars were all part of the exciting week of travelling. I loved seeing new places, but absence makes the heart grow fonder. Being away from Vienna made me realize how attached I already am to the most livable city in the world. My friends shared this sentiment and we are happy to be back in Vienna, which has quickly become home.

From Our Blogs

Dec 12 1:44pm

12 Gifts for Students Studying Abroad

by IES Abroad

Our recent alumni shared their thoughts on the best gifts for students studying abroad, and we complied it into a helpful gift guide. Enjoy!.

Learn more
Dec 11 10:20pm

Why my study abroad mattered to me

by Jaagrit

Through this blog post, I share why I my study abroad was important for me, and also give insight into how it could be beneficial to anyone thinking about participating in this experience.

Learn more
Dec 10 12:55pm

Adiós Galápagos

by Xavaar

As I leave the island, which I've called home for the past three months, I reflect on my expectations I had versus the realities of life in the archipelago.

Learn more
Dec 10 11:51am

"I Wanna Wish You a Merry Christmas!" -"Feliz Navidad" cover

by Samantha

¡Hola a todos y Feliz Navidad! ‘Tis the season to get into the holiday spirit, and Granada has really been showing off with beautiful lights adorning every street and dulces de navidad in every bakery window.

Learn more
Dec 9 10:13pm

A Blossoming Relationship With Buenos Aires

by Max

A look into my hot-and-cold relationship with this city and my choice to dive in head first

Learn more
Dec 9 3:25pm

A Story of Our Shared Humanity

by Joshua

These pictures provide only a taste to the beauty, wonder, and perplexity that is to be found in everyday life.  Despite the walls of divison that we often erect between us, may the short glimpses that follow be a small reminder of our shared humanity.  

Learn more