Disclaimer: it is going to be difficult getting through this post without getting a tad teary-eyed, because this is the last post you will see from me until after I return from the beautiful Wien. Therefore, please excuse my mush.
The month of November has been filled with much excitement. With the absence of Thanksgiving, the Christmas season in Vienna actually begins in mid-November with the opening of Christmas markets throughout the city. Ornate Christmas lights line the streets, and the smell of Gluhwein (a popular mulled wine drink) fills the air. The Christmas markets consist of cute little stands, each selling a different assortment of Christmas-related knick-knacks and tasty treats. There are so many markets, it is difficult to go through the city without accidentally walking through one. It sometimes feels like I am living in the North Pole (minus the snow, which doesn’t really appear until January). The Christmas market madness is definitely something I will miss most about Vienna!
With the end of the semester drawing near, much of my time has been overtaken with studying for exams, group meetings, and preparing for presentations. Believe it or not, study abroad does actually entail some studying. It is, however, still much less strenuous than classes at Texas A&M (although my German course isn’t exactly a walk in the park…). I was enrolled in four classes this semester- International Marketing, International Tourism, Global Branding, and German
I have enjoyed my classes for the most part. It has been interesting to learn about Marketing from a different and more global perspective.
Most classes here only meet once a week and consist of two or three major grades (midterm exam, group presentation, final exam) with very few assignments in between. This has allowed for ample travel opportunities, excluding the few weekends when my International Tourism class was scheduled to meet. Overall, I have not had to worry about school too much throughout the semester. However, it is important to spend time studying for the few exams you do have to take since they are weighted so heavily! Most of these major exams/assignments don’t take place until the end of the semester. In the next three weeks I have two final presentations and three finals exams. My last exam is the night of December 19th, and my flight home leaves the morning of December 20th.
In exactly three weeks I will be back “home”, a concept I can hardly grasp. After all, this place has sort of become my home away from home. I have found that one of the strangest outcomes of studying abroad is this very vague sense of “home“. One might think that being away from it for four months would have the opposite effect. In many ways, leaving for such a long period of time truly has made me appreciate many things about Texas that I might have taken for granted before (eg.: Tex Mex, pie pans, kolaches, Target, the English language, people saying “excuse me”, etc.). However, there is something about living on a different continent for four months and traveling to so many different places that turns your life upside down (in the best way possible). I know that when I finally board the plane towards Houston, I will be leaving a little piece of my heart here. They say home is where the heart is, so that must mean that part of my “home” will remain here as well.
So much self-growth occurs when you study abroad. It’s not just about the studying or the traveling. It’s a collection of experiences which serve as your own personal building blocks, and you don’t realize how much you’ve grown until it’s all said and done. I can distinctly remember the panic attack I had while going through security in the Chicago airport when it finally hit me that I was actually doing this. At that moment, I couldn’t imagine the fear subsiding, but walking through the beautiful streets of Vienna, taking the subway, shopping at Christmas markets and studying in Viennese cafes now feels like something I’ve always done. I can honestly say this semester has been the most rewarding, growing, adventure-filled, fast-flying, and unforgettable time of my life.
There is so much beyond our own borders worth exploring. I’m so thankful I’ve gotten to explore some of it. I hope you do, too.