Lots of students at my university go, and I had always wanted to spend a long time in a foreign country.
Why did you choose IES Abroad Austria?
Vienna seemed like a perfect combination of everything I wanted from study abroad: a chance to learn a brand new language (I opted not to go to a Spanish-speaking country, which I speak relatively well), it’s centrally located in Europe, out of my comfort zone, yet not completely different. And it feels like going back in time! Also, I love music and play piano, and Vienna is hands-down the best place for that.
What was your favorite part about Vienna?
How easy it is to navigate/explore, and how beautiful it is. It is easy to find your favorite parts of the city.
What made your experience abroad unique?
Through my teaching internship, I got a job working for an Austrian ambassador, tutoring his young daughters in English. I got to go to their home once a week, and they really welcomed me and gave me a special perspective. The teaching internship itself was also incredible, because of how welcoming my supervising teachers were, and how many locals I was able to learn from.
How did local IES Abroad staff support you throughout your program?
They were amazing! The staff was always there to answer questions or give advice, and you could tell how interested in students' welfare they were.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I will always wish I hammered down on my German more, mostly because one semester just wasn't enough to become as proficient as I wanted to be.
Describe a typical day in the life of the IES Abroad Vienna program.
Wake up, take the tram to the center of the city for class, go to a café between classes and read, stop at the grocery on the way home, get back to my apartment and hang out with roommates. Occasionally at night I'd go to a musical performance, and some days, instead of class, I would take the Ubahn to the outer districts for my internship.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
Going to parks (so many beautiful parks!), going to cafés (café's are an "institution" in Vienna, which locals tell you over and over), seeing cheap classical music performances, wandering around the city.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
My apartment was very old-fashioned, which was kind of cool because it was very classic Vienna. The best part was the location - I was only a mile from the Prater, this gorgeous, huge park where I would run, and even closer to the Belvedere Palace. So my runs were always at a Palace, I was also only a 30 minute walk from the city center and classes, and I could take the tram most places, which was nicer than the underground because you can look around.
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in the IES Abroad Vienna program?
Vienna is set up in such a way that you have to seek out cultural immersion: try to meet locals and sign up for activities that will force you out of your comfort zone. Otherwise, it's easy to only spend time with the Americans on your program, and only do things you could have done in the United States. I feel like I really got immersed, but I watched my peers and it didn't seem like many of them had the same awesome cultural experiences I had.
Now that you're home, how has your program abroad in Vienna impacted your life?
I want to apply to go back to Austria for a teaching assistantship for two years. I also pay much more attention to world events, especially the reaction of Europe to the refugee crisis. I now couldn't see myself living a life that didn't interact with the world on a more massive scale. I want to be around the bustle and clarity that comes with living in a city and having global awareness, not get caught in a closed-off town and an all-consuming career.
Would you recommend IES Abroad Vienna to others? Why?
YES. I think Vienna has something for every single person who wants to go abroad. If you want to immerse yourself in something totally foreign, you can do that: you can do public service and volunteering with a number of organizations, especially if you're interested in helping refugees. If you just want somewhere pretty, where you can travel a lot, it's also perfect for that. It has a great night scene as well, if you like parties. But if you're more introverted, it's the perfect big city to escape into. AND, the staff is amazing and the classes are engaging, but only as hard as you want them to be.
No matter what you want from studying abroad, you can make it happen in Vienna.
Julianne is an English major and anthropology minor at the University of Rochester. She wants to pursue teaching in Europe for a couple of years, before working as a journalist or in entertainment media. While she was away, she seriously considered finding a way to go back to Vienna long-term. She has interned with The Elephant Pants and NBC.