Hello! from Vienna
My name is Jennie Boase and I am a junior studying Business Administration at Poole. This spring, I’m studying at the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU) in Austria.
Vienna is like no place I’ve ever been before. This city is massive and every time I leave my dorm I see something new (seriously – every time, without fail). The people in Vienna are very kind. There is definitely some crowding and a bit of pushing getting on and off the u-bahn (metro), but when someone needs help, there’s always someone else offering their hand.
The primary language here is German, but most people also speak little bit of English… at least enough to help the international students get by. My roommate is from Argentina, which adds another language into our mix at home, but I can’t say that my 3 semesters of Spanish gets us very far in conversation (needless to say I’m thankful her English is better than my Spanish).
WU’s campus is extremely modern. Construction ended in 2013, and the buildings each have a unique style. Though my classes don’t start until March, I’m excited to see more of what the campus has to offer. The most prominent thing I’ve learned here is that the opportunities to have a new experience don’t ever go away, and it’s important not to let them pass by. I’m looking forward to sharing some of those stories, but until then, auf wiedersehen!
Life in Vienna!
I had initially intended for this post to be about a day in the life of an exchange student in Vienna, but I really haven’t settled into a routine yet, so instead it will be some of the things that make it difficult to have a daily schedule.
Class at WU: Class at the Vienna University of Economics and Business is far different than those at NC State. For starters, classes here are much longer, but since they are longer there are also fewer times that they meet. Instead of being on a regular weekly schedule of x times a week on certain days, courses here change each session in the length of class time, time of class, days of the week class is held, and even location of the class. All of my classes are pretty small, with as few as 9 students to as many as 30.
International Students & Travel: The majority of friends that I have made here are also exchange students. I’m thankful to have such a diverse group of people to explore with, and that is what we spend most of our time doing. After only a few weeks here I made an impulse decision to go visit Slovakia the next day, and spur of the moment trips like those are not sparse among the international students. It’s common for everybody to go away on weekends in other countries, but with the varying class schedules at WU it’s easier for students to travel even longer.
The Size of the City: Boiling it down to figures and facts, there are simply too many things here for me to see them all. Though I’m developing some favorite pastimes and cafes, there’s a certain incentive to try new ones each time rather than repeating choices. On top of that, Vienna has a number of seasonal wonders that are only offered for a limited time. For example, they build an ice rink in a park outside of the City Hall during winter, and it was deconstructed by March. Finding new places to go is not hard, but it does make keeping a routine challenging.
With everything the city has to offer, adjusting to life in Vienna has been a breeze. I look forward to sharing more about my upcoming adventures!
How does one attempt to summarize study abroad? Lists, of course. Here’s my best attempt of describing my experience thus far:
Things I’ve learned from this semester abroad:
1. I can always pack lighter… and usually I should.
2. There are pre-yellow traffic lights in Vienna. Before changing from green to yellow, the green light blinks to show that it is about to change. Some cars will stop at the blinking green, and others won’t stop until the red.
3. People will look at me as a representative of my country. Sometimes I won’t fit the stereotype and sometimes I will. Either way, it’s okay.
4. There is only one connected double spiral staircase in the world, and I climbed it.
5. A language barrier is not a communication barrier. Even if I have to use my hands instead of my words, with a little patience I can get my message across.
6. Some Viennese couples wear their rings on the left hand, but many wear their wedding rings on their right hands.
7. It doesn’t really matter how I get there, just know that I’m going. I’ve used buses, planes, trains, metros, trams, ferries, cars, scooters, and my own two feet to get me from point A to point B. Even if the travel is a bit of work, the experience is always worth it.
Words of advice for future study abroad students:
1. Be aware. Not just of your surroundings, but of the opportunities that arise, the differences present in new cultures, and of what you learn from people you meet. Pay attention to what you’re seeing and experiencing, and pay attention to what it’s teaching you.
2. Wherever you go, learn how to say “thank you” in the native language. Though a simple message, it shows that you care and it shows that you’re grateful. Learn it in their language, and say it often.
3. In a few months, the story could mean more to you than the picture. Yes, there are some great memories that a camera could capture, but it’s important to experience it when it’s happening. Missing the moment is not worth having the picture.
4. Know what’s important and stick to your priorities. Sometimes the redeye flight will be the best option, but other days the best choice will be an extra hour of sleep before your early class.
5. Make decisions with intention… and don’t. There will be times to be spontaneous and there will be times to think about what your next move should be. You’ll know the difference, so just act accordingly.
6. Enjoy the ride. Not everything is in your control, so there’s no real point in worrying about it. Sit back and have a good time.
7. Sacrifice is not giving up something you like. Sacrifice is giving up something you like for something you like more or better. FOMO is a major barrier for some study abroad students, but as long as you look at what you’re going to gain in place of what you’re giving up, you should be able to see that it’s worth it.