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Global Stories: Ari Alexandrescu, Vienna, Austria

Ari Alexandrescu in Vienna, Austria

Major: Economics (BS), Minor in Mathematics
School: Vienna University of Economics and Business
Location: Vienna, Austria

Learning Economics in Vienna! (Sept. 2018)


My name is Ari Alexandrescu and I am a senior in the economics program with a minor in Math. My atypical last name comes from my paternal family heritage; my father came here from Romania in the 1980s. I grew up living all over the U.S., and by now have lived in 12 different states. While Raleigh is my usual place of study, I currently call Charlotte my home.

This semester I am studying at Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien in Vienna, Austria. I am happy to say that it has been ranked as one of the best business schools in Europe, and that I will have the chance to take some really cool economics electives while I’m here. On my docket for this semester is EU Social Policy, Women in the Economy, German for Business, and EU & US Financial Systems: A Comparative Analysis. Needless to say, I highly look forward to learning about the subject that I love from a fresh, global perspective. The diverse and unique economics course options are why I chose to study in Vienna. NC State is a strong academic institution, so I had high standards for anywhere I would go abroad.

While it may seem like a simple decision, I kept going back and forth on whether or not studying abroad was a good choice for me. I am a self-supported and non-traditional student, so I often thought that the experience was financially restrictive. I didn’t think I had the time or the resources. But, fortunately for me, I was consistently curious and passionate about learning more. I asked graduate students, professors, friends, and acquaintances if they had studied abroad and what they thought of it. Of those who had studied abroad, I heard a resounding “It was the best experience of my college career!” Of those that did not, the most common response was “not going abroad as a student has been my biggest regret.”

I look forward to continuing to give updates on my time in Vienna and my new discoveries in the field of economics. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

Auf Wiedersehen!

Ari’s First Impressions of Life in Vienna (Oct. 2018)

Guten Tag! My name is Ari and I am studying abroad this semester in Vienna, Austria at the University of Economics and Business.

My favorite part about living in Vienna: Vienna met my “I love this city” list of essentials in my first walk-through. The streets and buildings are clean and well maintained, art (of the historic and graffiti kind) is interspersed throughout the city, the streets are highly walkable with many pedestrian-only zones, parks and green-spaces are always not-too-far-off, the bus+subway+tram system can get you anywhere you need to go, and the city is filled with designated bike lanes! I have never had a car at NC State, so it is a welcomed change to be able to get around so easily and affordably.

My most surprising experience: I would not consider myself a “history buff” and I would definitely not consider myself a war-history enthusiast. Moving to Austria (and Europe in general) has changed this about me. In North Carolina, it is so easy to go about daily life without noticing or thinking about major historical events. In central and eastern Europe, ignoring history is not so easy. Nearly every large town I have visited in Austria, Germany, and eastern Europe has a history of WWII bombings and reconstruction. My first encounter with this was in Würzburg, Germany. In the center of Würzburg is a large, opulent palace built by a former ruler of the region. I was very impressed with the beauty and detail of the endless frescos, the uses of gold, and the sheer amount of decadence in the countless rooms of the palace. I was shocked and forever changed when the tour guide mentioned that 80% of the palace (and 90% of the city) had been destroyed in air raids in WWII. The palace was reconstructed to its pre-war status using careful salvaging and pre-bombing photo records. Since that point, I have come to see indications of WWII and the Nazi occupation in my daily life, and it really is a welcomed shift in perspective for me.

Excursions: Living in the heart of Europe makes seeing different countries cheap and easy. My university’s study abroad office makes travel even more simple with all-inclusive student-run trips to nearby cities. So far with my university, I have seen Melk and Graz in Austria, and Budapest in Hungary. Next month I will be going to Krakow and Auschwitz, and in December we have a ski trip in the Alps planned. On my own, I have been to Dublin, southern Germany, and Rome. It still amazes me that the ~700 miles from Raleigh to St. Louis is accompanied by a slight change in culture, but the ~700 miles from Vienna to Rome yields an entirely different world!

Thanks for checking in with my adventure to Austria! A few of my classes started on October 9, so I’m excited to share my observations on educational differences in a future post.

Bis später!