Study Abroad Week 3 - Trip to Vienna, Austria

Victoria Pembroke
November 8, 2021

3 weeks down, 13 more to go! Once again, for any newcomers, I’m posting weekly updates on what I did while studying abroad each day and any new self-discoveries/reflection points I may have. So… here’s the run-down on my third week abroad:

Monday, 9/13/21: Today was a much-need relax & recover day! I had just spent the weekend doing a lot of train travel and spending the weekend in Positano with friends, so I took today to go to my Italian intensive class and then just spent time unpacking, cleaning up my room, and getting some work done. I also, of course, had to update my budget for the semester abroad since I just spent a lot of money on my weekend in Amalfi!

Tuesday, 9/14/21: Today, I was really starting to feel the first two weeks abroad that I kind of treated as a mini-vacation get to me, and I decided I needed some structure. I love self care and ensuring I’m living a healthy lifestyle by working out and eating right, but I hadn’t done much of that for the first two weeks I was abroad because I was so busy getting accustomed to my new home, the city, and spending time with all of my new friends here! But today, I decided it was time to start back up with a healthy lifestyle, so after class, I used the gym here at Collegio (which was surprisingly pretty nice) to do a workout. I then did some laundry, ate dinner at Collegio with friends, tidied up my room, and did some homework. Overall, a very productive and feel-good day!

Wednesday, 9/15/21: After many long, hard days of missing my beloved American iced coffees (yes, they don’t do iced OR flavored lattes here in Milan), and much online research, I finally found a trusted brand of coffee here that not only serves flavored lattes, but serves them iced in - get this - not just 12oz, but also 16oz!! This chain is called 12oz Coffee Joint with multiple locations throughout Milan, and - if you’re like me and need something a little colder, bigger, and sweeter every now and then than the typical Milanese espresso shot - you need to stop by here! There also happens to be a location just down the street from the IES Abroad center, so during our 10-minute break in the middle of class today, my friends and I took a trip to 12oz and ordered ourselves a some nice caramel iced cappuccinos. And 12oz, if you’re reading this (although I’m sure you’re not), I definitely am open to a sponsorship ;) Later on, at night, some friends and I spent the night at this club we went to the first week - Just Cavali (yes, owned by the fashion designer - where we had a lot of fun with many students from IES Abroad. We even met a whole group of male models from all around the world from Germany to France! They were all really kind to us and talked with us all night, explaining that they were there for fashion week which is next week!

Thursday, 9/16/21: Today, I was in dire need of some shopping, so after class I took a walk around the fashion district in Milan, Brera (I mean, the whole city is one big fashion district though, really), and bought these two beautiful gold rings from a local Italian jewelry store. I then visited multiple vintage designer shops and second-hand stores and found an amazing vintage, chunky leather jacket that I had the perfect outfit for come fall, so naturally, I purchased it. I also, of course, had to stop by the Starbucks Reserve while there to pick up an iced latte! Later, I did some studying for my exam tomorrow which marks the last day of our Italian intensive class!

Friday, 9/17/21: Today was really exciting because I was heading to Vienna, Austria to visit my boyfriend from college! He’s studying abroad in Vienna this semester, and while the long distance can be tough, I’m so grateful that we’re both in the same time zone this semester (which makes staying in contact much easier) and are only an hour long plane ride apart! 

DISCLAIMER: Although I don’t want to promote unnecessary out-of-country travel in the midst of a pandemic, it is something that I’ve chosen to do for a few weekends this semester just to stay in touch with friends and get the most out of my study abroad experience! But again, I advise anyone studying abroad during the COVID-age to be careful and not travel out of their host country unless necessary! And I know IES Abroad also strongly discourages travel like this and doesn’t allow it altogether if you’re unvaccinated, so just something to keep in mind to keep yourself and others safe!

Nonetheless, I was lucky enough to have both myself and my boyfriend in Vienna be fully vaccinated and to have COVID measures still be relatively lenient when it comes to travel throughout the EU. After my Italian exam, I met up with some friends for aperitivos, headed back to Collegio to grab my bags, then was off by train to the MXP airport! While it took me a little bit to figure out the airport and how it was set up, everything went all-in-all smoothly and I was off to Vienna! I landed at VIE airport around 10:30pm and then took an uber to my boyfriend’s apartment, where it was so good to see him after 3 weeks of being apart!

Saturday, 9/18/21: Today my boyfriend and I met up with some more of our college friends studying abroad in both Rome (they came to visit as well) and Vienna. It was like a little reunion, and while I already love the friends that I made here in Milan, it was really great and comforting to see these familiar faces that I love so much! The day turned out to be pretty overcast and rainy, but still fun! We picked up some pastries from the store and I made us some breakfast involving whatever few ingredients I could find in my boyfriend’s fridge: eggs, smoked salmon, and cheese. Then, we all had lunch together, walked around Vienna, went to a really cool museum, grabbed some delicious coffee and fries, and later, went out to explore the Vienna nightlife and club scene!

Sunday, 9/19/21: Today, my boyfriend I woke up early to grab some croissants and coffee and then do a little grocery shopping for him at the one store that we found was actually open (oh yeah, news flash: stores in Austria are rarely open on Sundays, and when they are, they close super early!) We then said goodbye to our friends visiting from Rome as they had a flight to catch. I was supposed to leave this afternoon, but I wasn’t quite ready to leave yet, and had found a cheap flight back to Milan Monday morning to book instead, so that’s what I did. This allowed for some time for my boyfriend to show me around his beautiful campus, buy me brunch, and then take me to a really cool amusement park that is just down the street from his apartment, equipped with ferris wheels, food trucks, fun houses, and roller coasters! After we did some rides and grabbed some gelato, we headed back to his apartment, only to find out that DAVID DOBRIK and his entourage had been at that same amusement park just an hour ago! Being a huge fan of David, my boyfriend, our mutual friend and his roommate, and myself all hurried back to the park where we spent about a half hour looking for the celebrities, before eventually giving up and heading back. But hey! It was worth a shot right?

Overall, this week was a really great one! I spent some much needed down-time towards the beginning of it, and was so happy that I got to see some of my closest friends from home all the way over here in Europe! While I pride myself on being very independent and truly finding a newer, more mature version of myself here abroad, this week really made me reflect on what is most important to me, and what always has been: friends and family. 

While I of course miss all those that are close to me, I haven’t really gotten homesick yet while abroad, and I thought that that was just a sign that I was doing really well and that I’m a natural-borne world traveler and extremely independent and free-spirited! But I now understand that that’s not what that means at all after seeing some of my closest friends in Vienna and realizing I’m at my happiest when I’m with these people. I realize now that I haven’t gotten homesick yet because I’m so lucky enough to have such great connections with people from home still (including my family) as well as great connections with people here already, so that Milan already feels like home and so that my real home never feels that far away. 

While I may talk about how much I love taking time to myself and being on my own (which I really do), this life really boils down to one extremely important thing: the people you spend your time with. I can make myself happy and find love and contentment in my everyday passions, but what’s the point of all of that if I have no one else to share those passions with? No one else to laugh with when I’m feeling silly or smile with when I’m in those happiest moments? Life is hard for everyone from time to time, but the one thing that keeps us all going is knowing that there’s billions of us on this spinning rock experiencing the same everyday struggles, and knowing this gives us the peace of mind that we are never alone and that we’re all trying to get through this crazy life together, which makes the great moments all the more cherishable when with others who understand that there are some not-so-great moments too. 

So I urge anyone reading this now to take some time to practice gratitude for all the wonderful people and moments that you’ve had in your life, and to thank those people for always being there for you. Tell them you love them, because no matter where you are in this life, whether you’re on your couch with your family or halfway across the globe in Milan, the love of those important to you is always there, constantly warming you like a beam of sunlight that needs no boat, plane, or train to get to you - it’s always there.

Please enjoy some pics of my week below!

Victoria Pembroke

<p>I'm Tori and I'm from North Bennington, Vermont USA. I'm currently a third-year student at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts studying Finance with minors in Spanish and Information Design and Corporate Communication. At Bentley, I'm treasurer of the Ski and Snowboard Club, Scholarship Chair of Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority, and a member of the Women's Leadership Program, Bentley Literary Society, and Habitat for Humanity. After graduating Bentley I hope to work in corporate finance or investor relations for a few years before eventually following my life-long passion of starting my own fashion brand! I'm therefore so excited to study abroad with IES Abroad in Milan through their Business Studies and Internship program because I'll not only be able to grow as an individual, meet so many new people, and experience an entirely new culture/see new places, but I'll also be able to have hands-on experience in this huge financial district and fashion capital of the world! In my free time I love to alpine ski, read &amp; write, explore new restaurants and visit Boston, have fun with friends, and of course, shop!</p>

Destination:
Term:
2021 Fall
Home university:
Bentley University
Hometown:
North Bennington, VT
Major:
Finance
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