Edda Fransdottir - 2015 Program Participant
Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna
Why did you decide to apply for an international program?
I decided to go abroad during my junior year of college because I wanted to go out of my comfort zone and try something new and exciting. I wanted to learn not only more about the world, but more about myself, and studying abroad was the perfect tool for that. I wanted to experience a new culture and a new way of life, and meet people that have a different way of living than I do back home.
Why did you choose IES Abroad’s program in Vienna?
The reason I chose IES Abroad is because they made it so easy for me to get credits at my home institution. I decided to go to Vienna because I wanted to be surrounded by a culture that not only appreciates, but lives on classical music and art. I wanted to be surrounded by people that not only appreciate but also admire the arts, and I wanted to be in a city with a rich history. I was also looking to be located somewhere that traveling throughout Europe would be easy, and Vienna was definitely the perfect place for travel.
TU Ball at the Homburg Palace, Vienna
What was your favorite part about Vienna?
The beauty and "majesticness" of Vienna was probably my favorite part about living there. No matter where you go, there is a beautiful, grandiose building or an incredible park. The museums and concerts were a wonderful way to make sure that you would never be bored; every day there are free concerts going on throughout the city. Vienna's incredible location made it the perfect place to travel from, with cheap flights and incredibly cheap train tickets that could bring you anywhere in Europe.
What makes the program you participated in unique?
I have not attended another study abroad program, but I think what makes IES Abroad Vienna unique is the people attending the program. Everyone chose Vienna for a different reason, and people come from all over the U.S., so you get to meet a really diverse, interesting group of people. I think the way the academic calendar is made up is also very unique. You begin with three weeks of German intensive, which is only three hours a day, so you have the rest of the day to go an experience Vienna. Due to Vienna's wonderful location, traveling is highly encouraged, and there are trips set up throughout the semester, organized by the staff, that anyone can go on.
How supportive were local staff members throughout your program?
The local staff was absolutely amazing. They are incredibly friendly and helpful, and they all really love their job. No matter what, you know that you can count on them at any time, any day of the week. They always try to make fun activities for people to participate in, and are always willing to share their favorite parts about Vienna. The teachers really love teaching their subjects, and are always ready to donate their time if a student needs a little extra help. I think the wonderful staff was a big part of why studying abroad in Vienna was amazing.
Styria Festival in front of Rathaus, Vienna
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
Something I wish I would have done differently is really take advantage of all the museums and concerts around Vienna. It was so easy to just say "oh, I can go see this anytime. I'm too tired." But now I really wish I would have gone to the opera every week, and gone to all the museums. I also wish I would have packed lighter.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
A typical day for a music major in the program would be to wake up and go to your first class, which is never earlier than 9 a.m. You usually have at most three classes a day. I had a very long lunch break, so I would go to a cafe or a restaurant near by, either with friends or sometimes alone, and sit there until afternoon classes began. I would then go to my afternoon class, which usually ended around 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. You then either go again to a cafe with friends or maybe to a museum. In the evening I would go home and make dinner, do a little bit of homework, and then either hang out with my housemates, go to a concert, or go out to the bars.
What was your favorite thing to do in Vienna?
My favorite thing to do in Vienna was to go to Museumsquartier and hang out with friends, or just people-watch and read my book. As the weather got better, I would usually go there every day and spend a couple hours just hanging out. Also, going to Schönbrunn and walking around and watching the sunset was something I did a lot as the weather got warmer.
What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?
Most of us lived in apartments with between five and seven people. What I loved most about it is that most of the apartments were very close to other IES Abroad apartments, so we would all hang out in each others’ apartments. As a musician, the practice room facilities were absolutely amazing, and so conveniently located in our apartment building. The IES Abroad center is right in the first district, close to everything and anything; the IES Abroad center is located within a palais, and it is gorgeous! The classrooms are nice enough, nothing too fancy, but the concert hall (which doubles as a classroom) is absolutely stunning. What I really loved most about the accommodation is the location of the IES Abroad center and most of our housing; nothing was too far away, so traveling was incredibly easy.
IES Abroad Vienna day trip to Lower Austrian alps
Now that you're home, how has studying abroad impacted your life?
Study abroad has completely changed me. I learned more about myself during this one semester then I have during my three years of college. By taking leap and moving to a new place for a couple of months, I began to discover what I want out of life and how I want to live my life.
Having the opportunity to travel all around the word has opened my eyes even more to new cultures and to the amazing people and things to discover all around the world.
Without study abroad I would not have discovered my love for teaching (I took part in the teaching internship), and I definitely would not have learned as much German in such a short amount of time. Study abroad is an experience that is truly life changing. As always there are ups and downs, but all of the experiences that I had have truly made me the person that I am. I did not return home the same person I was when I left.