Das Ende

Aleida Fernandez

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SchonbrunnIt’s really over. I leave Vienna tomorrow.

I arrived in Vienna with high expectations. I had heard so many great things about the city, study abroad, etc. that I figured I would be in Austrian heaven from day one. As I noted in my first blog post, this wasn’t really the case. Yet somewhere along the road – in between weekend trips around the continent, American comfort food nights, dancing the waltz at a Viennese ball, meeting awesome people from around the world – I began to love this place.

I came here without a Whitman or familial crutch. And this was the most challenging/most rewarding/most emotional experience I have had thus far. The friends I have made, the places I have seen, the food I have eaten have made these four months go by like the speed of light. With a heavy heart, I reflect on the last semester and note some of the things I have learned.

0391. Love the city for what it is: I had visited Vienna before I started living here. In my memories, Vienna was like Barcelona or Berlin – full of life and many cultures and never sleeping. When I arrived, it became pretty apparent early on that Vienna was not like I had remembered. Vienna is a lively city, but Barcelona it is not. I found myself thinking that maybe I had made the wrong choice with choosing Vienna. When I took a step back, however, and embraced the city for what it is, I began to love it even more than I thought.

2. Be brave: When I traveled alone, overcame my fear of heights by climbing Stephensdome, spoke to Austrians who couldn’t speak a lick of English, started conversations with people from other countries, that is when I had the most reward.

L183. Try the local cuisine:  I made it my mission to try the local cuisine in every country I visited. And honestly, they were all amazing in their own way. The question I have been asked repeatedly is, “What was your favorite meal?” I don’t think I can choose just one.

4. Put yourself out there: In four months I’ve had beers with Australians, gone to a concert with a Frenchmen, kicked butt at trivia night with Austrians, jammed with Croatians and traveled with Americans from all over the country. I made some good memories and some good friends along the way while learning new things about the world.

1015. Going to one place can open your mind to new possibilities: Before I came here, I never thought I would want to go, nonetheless travel to, the majority of the places I went to. This experience has opened my eyes to different corners of the world and new adventures to have.

6. Say “yes”: Even when I was hesitant, I said “yes,” and those were some of my favorite memories.
7. More than one place can be “home:” It took me a month to start referring to my apartment as “home” and two to start referring to Vienna as “home.” By the third month, I really believed it.

0758. Just because I’m leaving, doesn’t mean I’m gone for good: When I first visited Vienna four years ago, I never thought I would come back so soon or actually live here for four months. It just shows me that when you love a place, you make the effort to come back no matter what. And this lesson, of all the lessons, is the lesson I will make sure to make good on.

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