It has been over a week now since arriving in Vienna, and I am in awe of the beauty of this city. I had come up with ideas in my head of what my experience would be like before coming, and wow, has Vienna already exceeded my expectations. Every day, I wake up in what feels like a dream, but I quickly snap into reality that this is my real life. In only seven days, I have seen so much Austrian history and culture, which has been so fun and exciting.

My first two days in the city involved an orientation program at the Vienna University of Economics & Business (or WU for short). There, I was able to meet other incoming exchange students from all over the world and get integrated into the academic lifestyle in Vienna. With still a month before classes actually start, I have been able to explore so much in Vienna. WU is an amazing university with over 500 international students each semester, so it is nice not feeling alone being in a new place and new school. One huge culture shock of school life in Vienna is the academic schedule. Rather than your typical American fall and spring semester, Vienna has a summer and winter semester. So although I am studying abroad in the Spring 2023 semester at TAMU, it’s really summer semester in Austria, where classes begin in March and end in June. Also, classes do not extend for the whole semester period. Some classes are only half the semester, or are complete within two weeks or on weekends. Additionally, classes do not typically follow a consistent weekly schedule (ex: every Monday and Wednesday), rather they occur on random days and times, with some weeks having completely off from a course. So, creating my class schedule was definitely more of a challenge.

On another note, when exploring the city, everywhere you walk, it looks like you just walked into a fairytale or into some historical time period. There are gorgeous, historic buildings everywhere you walk. I have been able to see so much including the famous Vienna Opera House, Mozart’s apartment, the Hundertwasser House, the Schönbrunnm Palace, the city of Graz and the Zotter chocolate factory. Additionally, the Vienna public transportation is the best in Europe. For 75 euros, I can take public transportation all semester (which is the equivalent to about one tank of gas for me in the U.S.).

Another aspect of Viennese culture I have fallen in love with is the cafe culture. Actually, UNESCO added Viennese coffee house culture to the cultural heritage list for Austria. When you go into a cafe or restaurant, there is no rush or order more or move on. You can spend hours in a cafe without the servers hovering your table throughout your stay. If you need anything, you have to flag the waiter down yourself to get the bill. As that seems more rude in the U.S., it is completely normal here. I have already spent many hours enjoying a Melange (classic Viennese coffee) and Sachertorte (famous Viennese chocolate cake) in many of the cafes that line the streets.

I have absolutely fallen in love with Vienna, Austria. One reason I picked this location is because my mom studied in Vienna in college, so it has been so sweet getting to share some of the same experiences with her and even recreate photos. I am already having the time of my life and have met so many amazing people!