Why did you choose this program? I chose this program because it fit my interests regarding psychology and I also have a fascination for Germanic countries. This program was a great fit for all my interests and was more than I could've asked for.
What was the housing like on your study abroad program? The housing in Vienna was amazing! We lived in a condominium that was nearly 100 years old. It was absolutely beautiful and looked out onto the streets of Vienna. I lived with four other girls in my own apartment but with the rest of the program there were about 15 more girls. We lived directly upstairs of the one boys apartment and it was nice to be able to easily interact with others.
What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? GET OUT and TRAVEL! Although your host city will be quite interesting and beautiful, you have no idea what else lies beyond those borders. I had the opportunity to travel to 5 countries in 6 weeks and I still wish that I could’ve traveled more. Traveling is one of the most rewarding experiences and integrating yourself into the culture will teach you things that you would have never learned otherwise.
What’s your best memory from your time abroad? It was the second-to-last week of the program and me along with three other girls planned to travel to two countries and back in one weekend. We traveled from Vienna, Austria to Prague, Czech Republic, and then to Krakow, Poland and back to Vienna. We did this by using overnight trains and hostels. It was one of the most hectic experiences of my life but also one of the most rewarding. I had to opportunity to visit and tour Auschwitz.
What was your biggest surprise about the location, culture or other aspects of your program? It was very surprising how environmentally friendly the culture was. They had recycling categories for every possible recyclable and were very serious about it.
Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock. I actually adapted quite well in Austria. The language barrier was more difficult than I thought even though I speak at a novice level of the native language. Although the country is not as westernized as you may expect, it was still easy to adapt to their culture.
What do you know now that you didn’t know before you went abroad? I did not realize how much other countries do not care about America. Growing up in this very egocentric country conditions you to think that everybody idolizes or hates America. In one way or another, America is discussed regularly. I found this to be false. There was only one city, Amsterdam, that thought that Americans were so cool and asked us a myriad of questions. All the other countries were neutral on the subject.
Discuss: “Going abroad vs. staying on campus.” Going abroad changed me as an individual. I learned more about myself and the society I reside in. By staying on campus, I would have robbed myself of self-actualization and personal growth. I sort of enjoyed realizing how small I am in our world.