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HalloWIEN and Thanksgiving: Holidays Abroad

30 Nov 2017

The thought of spending fall holidays away from home can be daunting. Especially when those holidays are not (or in Halloween’s case only kind of) celebrated in the country you’re living in. It was a sacrifice I thought I was making when I made the decision to go abroad. I can assure you, it wasn’t a sacrifice at all. 

Halloween in Vienna was so much fun! Unfortunately, I had an evening class and was unable to attend the IES Abroad sponsored event but I was still able to celebrate! A friend from my class and my language buddy, a University of Vienna student, dressed up and went to a Halloween celebration at a venue in my neighborhood! It was all very convenient and very fun. 

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Before my class, I stopped at Douglas (the Austrian equivalent of an Ulta) to pick up eyeliner. Using my eyeliner and an outfit I already owned, I became a very DIY deer. Halloween is certainly more relaxed in Vienna compared to the United States. I would estimate that half of the attendees at the local celebration we went to were in costume. Most costumes were more “scary” than cute or humorous. 

Classes were released early on Thanksgiving. Many students traveled for the holiday, many had family visiting, and the rest attended the IES Abroad Thanksgiving dinner! Since my friends and I were going on the IES Abroad ski trip that left the following morning, we all opted to go to the Thanksgiving dinner. I am so glad we did! 

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We had dinner at a Heuriger in Baden. It was adorably decorated in a traditionally Austrian fashion. Tables were served family-style with all of the normal Thanksgiving fixings! As much as I have been enjoying Austrian cuisine, it felt so good to have a traditional American Thanksgiving. Between dinner and dessert, a talent show was had. My peers put on a lovely show. We all got into it—the crowd even sang along! The atmosphere was so friendly and upbeat that all homesickness I had begun to feel washed away. 

Spending Thanksgiving away from home has given me ample time to reflect.

I have so much to be thankful for. I am thankful for my friends, both abroad and at home, who have brought so much happiness and excitement into my life. The gratitude I have towards my Austrian friends is tremendous. The warm reception I have gotten in Vienna has fantastically influenced my experience here. The kindness I have experienced is something to be thankful for. The staff of IES Abroad have been wonderful. It’s so positive to be in a program that cares about their students the way IES Abroad does. They have repeatedly helped me with the mini-crises I have had this semester, including Vienna residency meetings, metro ticket replacements, lost house keys, and last minute ski gear.

Most importantly, I am thankful for my family. It is because of my family that I have the ability to experience opportunities such as studying abroad. It is my mother, grandmother, and sister that I am grateful towards for shaping me into the person I am today. Although my holidays abroad have been fantastic, I am greatly looking forward to being home with my family for Christmas!

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