One thing I’ve learned about travelling while studying abroad is that it gives me serious appreciation for Vienna. Every time I visit a different country, it is exhilarating and exciting, but I’m always happy to come back to Austria. If I’ve been way for more than a few days, I come back exhausted and grateful that I’m somewhere where I at least know what I’m doing and how to get around.
I felt this way particularly upon returning from my last trip to London, Rome and Sorrento, Italy. It was a full ten days of traveling, and by the end I simply wanted to be back in Vienna, where the trains run on time and the signs are written in German, which I’ve gotten fairly used to at this point (at least more so than Italian). I wonder if I would have had the same level of comfort in Vienna even if I hadn’t taken any trips beyond Austria – my guess is no. I think that being pushed even further out of my comfort zone makes Vienna seem much more familiar, because I’m comparing it to other countries in Europe rather than the US.
Anyway, with only about one month left in Vienna, all I can think of is making the most of my time here. I feel behind on a lot – German homework, preparing for my recital, keeping up with friends and family from back home, writing my blogs (very behind on this one) – but it seems that everyone here feels the same way. I often get down about it and start to feel ashamed and disappointed, but then I have to catch myself and remember that I’m studying abroad and traveling; it’s pretty impossible to take several-days-long breaks and still be on top of everything. There’s always going to be something lost when something else is gained.
I won’t be making any more trips outside of Austria for the rest of the semester, and I’m very excited to finish off strong. At this point, my apartment does feel like home (even if not to the extent of my home back in the US), it’s really easy for me to make my way around Vienna, and I can go through daily life here communicating in surface-level German without freaking out and seeming like a complete tourist. But the challenge now is recognizing that I could take this comfort and stick with it rather than continuing to push myself to get even more out of my time here, and learn more about both myself and about Vienna. I feel comfortable in Vienna now, but I know that there's still so much more to discover here.