Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Erica F. - Vienna, Austria - Fall 2012

October 2, 2012
Wien, Österreich
Everything still feels a bit unreal, as you are always consistently trying to adapt to the different details of life abroad. In Vienna, public transportation is huge. Everyone says it is simple and easy to use, but that is only after you have learned your way around. I live much further out than most of the other students in my program, so I am one of those lucky souls who is utilizing the public transportation system all day long. It is not so horrible once you get the hang of it. But every new location I try out means I have to find a new way home. I feel much more experienced though, comfortable moving around the city.
I have gone to some of Vienna’s amazing historical sites, but there is always something new to do. The city has events, concerts, festivals, markets and much more constantly going on. There are many things I still hope to go see and do. It is true, what they all say in our international prep course, you tend to stick with the American students who are also in your program. Which was one of my goals to not do, however, it is much more difficult to immerse yourself with the locals if you do not know the native language (which I did not).  Nevertheless I have appreciated how amazing my program is and have enjoyed spending time with the other American students because we all have similar interests and schedules.
The natives here are not known for being very friendly, and they have lived up to that reputation. I do however have a language buddy who is really great, she is bit older than me but we have similar interests. I look forward to spending more time with here and potentially getting better at the German language.
It has taken a lot of adjusting to the food and grocery stores here. The hours are not the same, everything closes early and is not open on Sundays, which does not sound like that big of an issue…but it makes buying food rather difficult. There is also not a lot of eating on the fly other than kabob stands, so you have to be prepared food wise what you plan to do during the day while at school. However, if you enjoy trying new foods and having lovely dinners out then you are all set. I absolutely have enjoyed this aspect of food, taking a night to just be at a restaurant and try all they have to offer.

 I have also decided to take the maximum amount of classes, so I am extremely busy, but there are some courses that I have to have in order to graduate back home, in addition to one course I could not pass up. But I think it will all be worth it. It is all wonderful here, but still experiencing a lot of adjustments. The pictures that I have included are from the big attraction Schönbrunn Palace, in the gardens and some of the amazing food I have tried!


Blogger Nicole R. said...

I am a little nervous about the public transportation too, because I don't use it very often in the US. What has been your favorite part of Austria so far? What have you noticed that makes you think the locals seem a little bit rude? I am just wondering because I will be studying in a nearby area.
-Nicole R.

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The public transportation is not tricky, just a matter of getting the hang of it and learning how the city is situated. Not hard to do after carrying the public transportation map around with you for a couple of weeks and looking up how and where to get from place to place, before going out and about. The locals are not like out of their way rude, but they just are not warm. People run into each other getting on and off public transportation, people do not exchange smiles, waiters do not wait on you unless they feel like it...not anything terrible I suppose, just not as courteous as you might be used to in a Midwest setting. I am not quite sure how else to explain it. Hope that gives you a better idea, feel free to ask more questions!

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Douglas Vrchota said...

Dear Erica,

My name is Doug and I will soon be an international student like you! It seems like your having a great time over in Austria! I do have one question for you though. What sort of experiences have you encountered with culture shock?


11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having gone to such a unique location to study abroad, was it difficult to find classes to take there that you knew would count for credits here? How flexible was your adviser and/head of your department?

I'm beginning my course selections now for Semester at Sea, hopefully you might be able to give me a helpful hint or two!


11:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Conway said...

Hi Erica! I will be going to Paris in the spring and I am both excited and nervous. Can you tell me more about your school schedule? What are classes like in Europe? How is the work load? How often do they meet? Thanks so much I hope you are enjoying Vienna!

Chris Conway

10:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Culture shock... I do not particularly like that phrase, for one simple reason. Its not like you land and bam, you are shocked with another culture. Over time you realize some differences and I would consider it more of a personal struggle. A struggle to understand your new surroundings, how the people behave, how to live and be in your new location. It is very interesting to learn all of these new things, I guess the shock part would stem from being all of these different variables being thrown at you all at once. I am not sure if that is a good explanation :)


3:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Actually, I picked Austria based on courses that I needed for my major, minor and genEds left. I am a senior so I am studying abroad relatively late in my academic career, so it was extremely critical for me to find the courses I needed (in order for me to be on track to graduate this coming spring). I knew I wanted to be in Europe, have cultural background with Germany and some other areas, so after extensive research and navigating through the Elmhurst study abroad programs and providers I found Austria. My advisor back at Elmhurst is wonderful, not necessarily the most helpful, it is a lot of ‘dirty’ work. I had to do all of this on my own, for very good reasons. I knew what classes I needed, wanted and so on. No one was going to find a program or my courses for me. So it was up to me to go seek out the courses, seek the approval from each department. But I believe it was worth it, just takes a lot of digging. I have met a lot of people, both at our home school and here in my program in Vienna that are just studying abroad and taking courses that interest them. But now they are behind in their major and are not going to graduate in their initial planned timeframe. I would recommend NOT doing this. You have all the resources to find a program to find your needs, take advantage of that.


3:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am taking the maximum course load with my program. This is due to the fact that I am graduating soon, therefore I need four set courses (one of which is an internship class that requires a minimum of 10 work hours a week), plus my program requires a language course, on top of those there was one class I could not pass up. So my work load is a bit hectic, but worth it. For my study abroad experience it was very important to take classes there were essential for my schooling back home, I wanted to stay on track with graduation soon. My program is also very different where my courses are taught at the study abroad provider school, not a local university. So we have local professors come teach us at our separate ‘American’ school. I am not in extremely difficult classes I guess you could say, but there still is work to be done and you have to actually show up for the classes, which ultimately is half the battle.


3:55 AM  
Anonymous Dan Petrokas said...


I know that you do not speak German but perhaps you can help me out. I will be studying in Germany in the Spring and I was looking into taking at least one class in German while I'm there. I have had 4 years of German in high school and 4 semesters at Elmhurst so I am pretty good with the language. Are any of your friends taking courses in German? Have you heard anything about what it's like? Finally, are there any other tips you have for registering in general so as to make the process as painless as possible?

10:00 PM  

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