Noel Bruner - 2014 Program Participant
Overlooking Vienna from Schonbrunn Palace.
Why did you choose to study abroad in Vienna?
When I was in preschool, my family hosted an exchange student from Austria. Ever since, I have wanted to visit. Studying abroad seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit Austria and other surrounding countries. I chose Vienna because of the Psychology program as well as the history of the city.
What were your housing arrangements like?
I lived with five other girls in an apartment in the Sixth district. We were very close to the U-Bahn route and a short 20 minute walk from the IES Abroad Center. We had two large bedrooms, two bathrooms, a dining room, a huge living room, and a kitchen. My apartment also housed a native Viennese student who was a huge help in assisting with exploration of Vienna and travel.
Beethoven's Grave at Central Cemetery.
Describe what a typical day was like as a student in Vienna.
Our typical day was a weekday (Monday to Thursday). After fixing breakfast in my apartment, I would walk to the IES Center with a few friends. We had German class in the morning. We got a break for lunch – some students packed a lunch and some stopped by a café or street vendor. We then had Psychology class for part of the afternoon. After class, we would visit a museum, park, or go shopping. Evening meals varied, with some cooking in the apartment and others eating out. Vienna has a very popular nightlife where you can go to a movie, club, theater, down to the Danube River, or relax in the apartment.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in Vienna?
The biggest challenge in Vienna was not speaking German. We could figure out most words, but it was a struggle to not understand everything around you. Additionally, we were never sure whether locals we encountered spoke English or not. Luckily, a few students in our group spoke a little German so we were usually able to communicate.
If you had the chance, why would you return to Vienna?
Vienna is a huge city – there was no way for us to explore the city. There are a number of locations we weren’t able to visit. Additionally, we spent most of our time in the First district. I would definitely like to explore more of the other districts, as well as the Danube River area.
How has studying abroad in Vienna impacted your life at home?
Studying abroad definitely increased my independence. I have taken more time to explore the places I take for granted. Rather than going to the same restaurants, coffee shops, and study spots, I find a new place to try. I am not near as intimidated to try new things, because if I could do it in a foreign country, I can do it in America.
View of Vienna from aquarium near our apartment.
What important tips can you give to future study abroad students in Vienna?
Make sure you get the correct U-Bahn pass. I had some classmates get the wrong pass, so they were fined.
If you could study abroad again, where in the world would you go?
I would go to Ireland. I’ve had many friends travel there, and they come back with the best stories. I feel like Ireland is very different from both the United States and Austria, so that would be a really fun experience.
Did you experience reverse culture shock when you returned to the U.S.?
Definitely. I actually flew back to the U.S. on the Fourth of July, so seeing all the U.S. flags and even hearing English spoken everywhere was overwhelming. I was so used to walking everywhere that driving seemed like a chore. I didn’t eat a lot of red meat in Europe, so coming home to hamburgers and steak was a big adjustment.