Adam here, writing to you from the chilly city of Vienna, Austria! About a month ago, I embarked on my year-long European adventure. During the Fall 2013 semester, I’ll be studying here in Vienna, Austria, and during the Spring 2014 semester, I’ll be heading west to London, England. It’s already been the second-best decision of my life (The first, of course, was choosing to come to USC, haha)!
So far, it’s been a whirlwind of an experience. I stayed in LA over the summer working as a communications/marketing intern for AIDS Research Alliance, before heading to Wisconsin (my home state) for a little R&R. On August 25th, I flew from my familiar Midwest upbringings across the Atlantic to Vienna, where I stayed for just under 24 hours. Turns out that in Vienna, we don’t start classes until October 7th — which means I had some traveling to do!
After dropping off most of my luggage and briefly exploring my new home (see the picture to get an idea of what my room looks like), I woke up the next morning armed with only my travel backpack filled with some clothes, a padlock, a few Euros, and my iPhone (sans-cell service) ready for 3 weeks of solo European travel. Budget airlines, hostels, and new friends awaited!
I traveled to Budapest, Hungary via bus (where I ironically met one of my newest friends, Laura, in a museum titled the “House of Terror”), took a plane to Milan, Italy, followed by trains to Florence and Rome, and finally a flight up to Berlin, Germany, before returning back home to Vienna. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I’ll be sure to blog about my travels in other posts! Traveling alone was an experience unlike any other — I talked about politics and social inequality in the USA/Australia with an Australian couple that was traveling the world, played Skip-Bo with a group of Polish friends, befriended a Louisiana Delta employee randomly while making breakfast, discussed Germany’s turbulent past century of history with a German and Chilean, explored the Colosseum at night with a new friend from Malaysia, reunited with my friend from USC while in Berlin… the list goes on. The sights, the people, the new languages (Have you tried buying toothpaste in an Italian pharmacy?), everything was completely new. And the greatest part was that I made so many new friends along the way that provided me with an educational experience not possible any other way.
Now that I’m back in Vienna, I’ve been participating in an Orientation & Cultural Program organized by my host university (Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien, or the Vienna University of Economics and Business). It basically includes day trips to cities around Austria, excursions to local sights in Vienna, walking tours, museum visits, history lectures, company visits, and more! It’s the perfect way to meet exchange students from all over the world (In fact, most people I’ve met here aren’t from America), and it’s a lot like the beginning of freshman year, but with a lot less English and a fancy U-Bahn (metro) that makes it super easy to get around the city. I don’t want the program to end!
One month here has been phenomenal, and I can’t wait for the rest of the adventures in store for me this year. For anyone reading this wondering if they should study abroad… DO IT! It will be the best experience of your life.
Until next time, Tschüß!