Aaron Martin - 2015 Program Participant

Outside Mariazell Cathedral in Austria

Aaron at Mariazell Cathedral

Why did you decide to apply for IES Abroad’s program in Austria? 

I wanted to see the world. I wanted a German speaking location and found Austrian history fascinating, and it's right in the middle of Europe.

What made your program unique?

The city of Vienna. Vienna is so unique with the imperial history, coffeehouse culture, theater, opera, music, art, and even nature (Danube Island and the Vienna forest are both easily reachable).

What surprised you most about Austria?

What surprised me most about Austria, in a negative way, was how smoky it is. The sheer natural beauty of Austria surprised me in a positive way.

What did a typical day consist of for you as an international student in Vienna?

A day basically consisted of getting up and goofing off, then going to the IES Abroad Center. There I would chat in reception, hang out with my friends, have lunch, go to classes, and do all my homework. Then I would leave and do my chosen excursion for the day, usually a museum. I would then return, go to my apartment, make dinner, watch silly internet videos, and go to sleep.

The Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

The Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

What was your favorite part about living in Vienna?

You can literally take a bus and be in another country in an hour.

What type of accommodation did you have? What was your favorite part about it?

I was in an apartment. My favorite thing was the kitchen, which suited my needs well.

How supportive were local staff throughout your program?

They could not have supported me better and were there through pretty much anything, from providing me with a lot of travel advice to reassuring me when I was freaking out about academics or money.

Did you have trouble communicating with locals during your time abroad?

I had some difficulties communicating, but most of the time I was able to switch to English for the sake of clarification.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I wish I could've done more athletic things. I would've liked to walk, bike, and hike more, or maybe even zipline. The biggest thing I didn't do was go to a Rapid game because I wasn't aware of when the season ended.

What is your most memorable moment from your time in Vienna outside your program activities?

Besides the IES Abroad trips, it would definitely have to be the Easter egg hunt at Schönbrunn.

What is one thing you wish you would have known before studying abroad?

I just wish I could go back and tell myself that it'll all be okay, and that I'll get everything I want out of this and more.

View of Vienna from the roof of the Naturhistorisches Museum

The view from the roof of the Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna

What was the hardest part about studying abroad?

The hardest part about studying abroad was finding a balance between travel and responsibility, academics and enjoyment, having fun and being frugal.

Now that you're home, how studying abroad in Vienna impacted your life?

Study abroad changed me. Being away from home and family, and experiencing a foreign environment (or, more accurately, several), really helped me figure out who I am and what's important to me. It gave me a lot of confidence when faced with the prospect of graduating and going to graduate school.

It also gave me a better appreciation for the diversity of this world and lifestyles different from my own.

If you could study abroad again, where would you go?

If I were to study abroad again, I would probably go to Italy because I loved Italy and there's so much there I haven't experienced. On the other hand, Japan is at the top of my bucket list, and if I could find a program that didn't require language abilities then I would do that.

View of the harbor in Lisbon, Portugal

A view overlooking the harbor in Lisbon

In your opinion, what is the biggest benefit of studying abroad?

Studying abroad allows you to discover the world and yourself, and that's immensely valuable.

Would you recommend IES Abroad to other students?

I would absolutely recommend IES Abroad to anybody!