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Journals from Vienna 2008

2008-12-30 Reflections and missing Austria

We've been back in the States for about a week now, and I truly miss Austria already. I am really missing the little everyday German conversations that I had been having there, that just aren't possible here. Walking into a coffee shop or a restaurant, I feel a bit lost speaking English with the staff, and my requests and replies all seem to sound awkwardly strung together, strange, and unnatural. The ice-covered streets and highways do not help to ease the Austria-sickness (like homesickness only worse), as I have been stuck at home for most of the time. It was a really great feeling meeting up with my family at the Portland Airport, but after about a day and a half I was ready to get back on a plane headed the other direction, direction Austria. However, I did not only start to miss Austria in those first few days, I began to really miss my fellow Vienna crew. Those people had become like family to me, and we all (well almost all) became very close during the trip, and its very strange not seeing them every day. Adapting to life without the people I came to know as family and life for four months is not so easily accomplished. I miss my wonderful host family a lot; they really became like family to me, even taking care of me when I caught a cold, and it was hard for me to say good-bye to them. Living with a family that really takes you in as if you were their own really makes those people your family, and just that much harder to say good-bye to. Throughout the four months I was able to spend a lot of quality time with the entire family, even babysitting for their grandchildren a couple of times. That was definitely an experience; if you find yourself abroad with the chance to baby-sit, I strongly recommend it! Leaving the delicious Austrian cuisine proved to be even harder than expected. When I left the US I was an EXTREMELY picky eater (as my mother would say), and was actually very nervous I would not find anything I could eat in another country with another cuisine. Much to my excitement, I became very quickly accustomed to the Austrian kitchen, and would trade in a barbecued steak for a Wiener Schnitzel any day! Another thing that really worried me was the supposed German/Austrian obsession with sausage-type food, because I hate American hotdogs and sausages so entirely much, I actually refused to try a Wurst or sausage-type food until I was at a soccer match and the timing just felt right; sadly this was not until mid-November. Now I regret my sausage predisposition, and had to eat as much of the stuff as possible before I left, though I still do miss it. My advice to study abroad students in the future is: start eating the native food right away, or at least try it, because you may love it too late!! I really miss the daily life, as I mentioned, but especially the public transportation. It was just so convenient, cheap and easy to use. Those Europeans really have the public transportation down. It was really refreshing to be able to get around with ease and to read a book while doing so. Our public transportation in America is either non-existent or very difficult to use. Basically, I just miss Austria, and most everything that goes along with it. This study abroad showed me that I really want to travel more, and that I definitely want to spend a longer amount of time in Austria. The only thing this trip was not, was long enough!! Ashley Bennett

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