When and where did you “Go”?
I went to Vienna Austria. I left America on Labor Day weekend and returned Thanksgiving weekend. I was there just under three months so that I did not have to get a Visa.
Why did you choose that trip?
There were a few different reasons I chose to go to Vienna with my program provider. I wanted to test my German skills in a German speaking country and then I learned they still need some work. I found Austrian history really interesting. I had never lived in a city, but I did not want to be overwhelmed by a very large city. And my GO trip was with the study abroad program BCA and I liked the classes and excursions that they provided.
What aspect of the culture of your destination felt most difficult to acclimate to?
The language was difficult for me and so it was very difficult or me to just talk to people. I did not go with a large program or a university and so I did not have many people to hang out with, making the language barrier even harder.
What’s one of your most memorable experiences from the trip?
I went to Sazburg one of my first weekends in Austria. I went with my friend Jake and Salzburg was the first trip that we had ever planned and experienced on our own. We learned from mistakes such as getting off at the wrong bus stop or almost missing the last bus to the train station. We stumbled upon a St. Rupert’s Day festival, which we thought of as a mini Oktoberfest, Ledderhosen and Dindl included. We went on a Sound of Music Tour and our British tour guide had us singing along to Julia Andrews as we drove around the Austrian countryside. It was interesting and unique, and one of the few times we really allowed ourselves to be or rather to act like tourists. I learned some interesting truths about the film and the real family.
What ended up being the most surprising part of your GO experience?
I really learned that you need to make the experience, other people and things will shape it, but your attitude and actions make it. I absorbed culture by simply being there, taking in the sites every day, riding the Strassenbahn, eating the strudel. I was an independent adult and I needed to choose how to travel, to eat, to live. I needed to make my time in Vienna, because if I did not, the time would keep going until I had to leave and I would have too many “I wish I did this” or “I should have experienced that” ideas clouding my memory of Austria.
What’s one thing that you saw/did on your trip that you think everyone should experience at least once in their life?
I think everyone should experience a German/Austrian Christmas Market. They are very large and all over Vienna. One day when I was showing a few friends around the city, I kept stumbling on a new Christmas market. Each one is a little different, but they all have ornaments, punch, and food.
Interview by Regan Breeden and Amanda Schader