Sunday, May 3, 2009

Semester in Vienna: Reflections

I do not even know how to start when reflecting on my semester abroad in Vienna, there is so much that I have done and there are so many amazing things to think about! I think that my favorite part of the semester has been the simple fact that I have been in Europe. I grew up moving all over the United States, so I have already travelled quite a bit, and I now go to school in NH while my family lives in California, so I have been fairly independent for awhile now. Therefore the newest thing for me was being able to travel so easily between such unique countries. I really feel like I took advantage of this since I was able to go to Italy, Greece, France, Germany, Hungary, and all over Austria.

The most unique part about this semester has simply been that I have been experiencing so many new and exciting cultures and languages that I was never exposed to before. As an Anthropology major this is especially interesting for me since I have studied quite a bit about cultures. As an Anthropologist I also know that I cannot make generalizations about the people I met in the various countries because I would hate to stereotype people when I did not do any formal work, but I feel like a did learn a little bit about each culture I visited. For example, I made an effort to try new foods in the countries I visited and my new favorite is Gyros from Greece. I also enjoyed the sites in the various cities of course, my favorite being the Archaeological Forum in Rome which was absolutely astounding. I was most flattered by the kindness I found in the people of Athens who were also willing to lend a helping hand, not only to their own people but to the tourists around them as well. I learned a good deal more about the history of the various countries, and I was especially interested in the new aspects of Austrian history that I learned.

Another really great thing about this semester has been the friends that I have made. From meeting some really great people who live and work here, like my friend Kate who is from Britain but is currently working in Vienna, to becoming close with the people who came here from FPU. Being in a country where you do not speak the language and living with only eleven other people who speak english, for the most part, can be very difficult. But it also brings you close together. Living in a confined space and being limited to such a small group really limits how you can interact with them. Since I did not come abroad knowing anyone too well I am very lucky that I ended up with two great roommates who I was able to travel with and get to know. The trip certainly would not have been the same without them, or without everyone else here, and I think it is so great that I was able to meet them all.

Overall when I look back at this trip I can honestly say it is one of the best experiences of my life. I have been wanting to study abroad since I was high school and the semester has met all of my expectations. I really feel like I got to do something unlike anything I have ever done before and I truly got to experience Europe in a way that you can never experience it after college. I really believe this was the opportune time for me to come to Europe and experience these intriguing cultures and learn more about the lives of those who were unknown to me before. This is most certainly the trip of my life.

Natalie, Me & Alison on the Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg, Austria.

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