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Moving Forward but Glancing Back

January 10, 2018

There are so many accurate clichés I could use to express how enriching my study abroad experience was. Ladies and gentlemen, the travel brochures are right. Yes, it was a once in a lifetime experience. Yes, it was a semester I will never forget. Yes, I do feel like it has changed me as a person.

I am so grateful that I was able to live in Vienna, Austria for a semester. I learned more Austrian history and German than I could have hoped. I learned more about myself than I knew was possible. I could write an entire essay on how much I miss Vienna. I could also write about how happy I am to be home. More importantly than either of those, is how happy I am that it happened.

Before leaving Vienna, students were given information regarding ‘reverse culture shock.’ This is something I had never heard of and fortunately it remains something I haven’t experienced. And alright, I’ll admit it: spending weeks at home after traveling internationally for months can feel underwhelming at times. This little bit of boredom is nothing in comparison to the homesickness I felt some of the days I was abroad. Living abroad was a wonderful experience, as was coming home at the end of it.

Living abroad taught me a new level of independence. I learned about time management, cooking, killing spiders, strategic packing methods, using metro systems, and so much more. I made great friends, many of whom I would love to see again! I have wonderful memories that I will forever cherish. In such a short amount of time, I feel like I have grown so much as a person.

It is painful to think that never again will I have seemingly infinite time with my IES Abroad friends in Vienna. While abroad, life was fast. Every night there were new experiences to be had. My plans for the evening could have been the cheapest tickets the Opera sells or last-minute tickets to Budapest or Berlin. I am so glad that I pushed myself to keep busy and try new things.

I am preparing myself for the second semester of my junior year. It feels as if my fall semester was just a dream. My semester abroad was so busy and went by so quickly that I don’t feel like I missed anything on campus. This is the first time I have been this excited to return back to school. Not only am I looking forward to continuing my German education but I am also ready to get back to my major and minor classes, rekindle friendships, and work on new projects. It will be great to see what these next three semesters have in store for me.

Featured Image: Victoria at Schönbrunn Palace's Christmaskindl

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