Back in the U.S. of A.Vienna, Spring 2010
So I’ve been back for about a month or so and it’s definitely difficult to sum up the experience without sounding cliche… but I really can’t think of anything original or clever to say about the experience, so I’ll just tell you how things went for me. Adjusting to coming back was rough at first, I really didn’t want to leave. I felt like telling the U.S. customs to deport me back to europe when they were asking me a million questions about why I wanted to enter the states… “I don’t, I really don’t! Just send me back! Please!” It was all that ran through my head. But after the initial reverse-culture-shock, and some welcome-back greetings from friends and family, it became a bit easier to deal with day-to-day life. I still miss Vienna/Europe like crazy, but I know I’ll be back one day (and hopefully soon.)
So here’s where I start spewing my cliches about my time abroad: It was life changing– and I mean that literally: I chose to go to Vienna somewhat on a whim, I knew I wanted to go to Europe but I wasn’t quite sure where in Europe I wanted to study. I chose Vienna because it was centrally located (good for traveling around europe), I’d heard good things about it, the idea of learning another new language intrigued me (I knew Spanish fairly well, 4 years in high school), and I also enjoyed playing classical music in high school band (Vienna is basically the world center for classical music, where it all began–if you will.) I like to be spontaneous, so I basically just picked one of the 6 cities in europe I was considering based on no research, just instinct alone. Which, having traveled quite a bit while I was in europe, could have been awful had I picked anywhere other than Vienna. Vienna is probably one of the best cities (if not the best) to live in. Most people are friendly, the public transportation is fantastic, the city is ridiculously clean, you can drink tap water, and most people speak english (if you’re not comfortable with your german.) The only downside to Vienna is the weather, it was cold in the winter and rainy all the time in the spring.. we’re talking worse rain than seattle weather, which is saying a lot… but supposedly this was the worst weather in ages or something… anyway I’m getting off track. If I try and explain every reason the experience I had in Vienna was life changing this blog will be a novel therefore I will focus on one thing… career choice/major life changing decisions.
I always knew I wanted to teach, but before going to Vienna I didn’t have any clear cut ideas on what I wanted to teach, where, etc. I was thinking of teaching psychology/social sciences to high school students but I wasn’t quite sure. For the heck of it, I took an internship in Vienna where I was able to teach some 8-10 year old Austrian children English as a second language. The teachers pretty much gave me free reign and let me teach however I wanted to the children and it was one of the best experiences ever! So I got to thinking that I could really see myself doing that for the rest of my life, if not for a significant portion of it. Since then I’ve been looking into changing my major/ my options with my current major to see what I can make possible. Had I never chosen Vienna on a whim, and chosen to do that internship on a whim, my entire ‘life-plan’, if you will, for what I’m going to do after I graduate would be completely different. I’m so grateful that I chose to take a chance and have this experience, and I wouldn’t change anything about it… except maybe lower the exchange rate
I would also like to say that while it’s great that I’ve become a little more cultured, educated about world issues, etc. that it’s important that people who have studied abroad and have a passion for it should advocate to others the importance of it. Wherever you go in the world, whether it be Africa, South America, Europe, China, whatever, no matter how different the place, you gain so much valuable knowledge, and have so many valuable experiences that you can’t have sitting in a classroom in your home country. It’s important that young people go out and see the world and become more educated about the world first-hand.
Here’s my advice to those of you considering study abroad, in short: Study abroad, be spontaneous, get lost, stay up too late, get up too early, dance, eat, meet locals, but most of all: squeeze the juice. (Which is a metaphor for not being afraid to take chances to get the most out of life.)
Here’s what I’ve been doing since I’ve been back:
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