There’s a certain appeal to studying abroad that is unlike anything else. It’s an opportunity to study in another country where you might not know the language and cultural customs. It’s an exhilarating experience that one can remember for a lifetime
But what about daily life abroad?
What people sometimes forget to remember is that in the cities they study abroad or travel to, people are living regular, normal lives, just as one would in the United States.
When you study abroad, you tend to be a mix of both a tourist and a local. An expat.
There are certain cues one can look for to know that you’re a fully assimilated Viennese. If you roll your eyes at the fact that the U-Bahn (subway) is more than 4 minutes away or stare at someone way longer than you should without smiling; congratulations, you’re officially Viennese.
So when I’m not in the Alps of Austria or visiting neighboring counties, I’m living a regular, normal life as a student in the city of Vienna.
My day begins with breakfast, usually something small, unlike the big American breakfast we are used to. From there, I make the journey to the institute, an approximately 26 min ride on the U-Bahn.
In the early morning hours, it’s easy to distinguish the local from a tourist on the U-Bahn. A local usually rushes down the escalator, knowing exactly down to the minute what time their usual train comes. A tourist stops suddenly in their tracks, hoping to take a better look at the Google Maps on their phone.
Once at school, I attend my classes with a lunch break in between. I usually bring yesterday’s leftovers or make a sandwich.
After that, I take the same subway lines, U1 and U3, as in the morning but in reverse.
At home I get my homework done for the next day, relax, and await dinner with my host family. The fact that I live with an Austrian family also adds to this feeling of normalcy. My family is quite multicultural, as the dishes can range from traditional Austrian to Iranian.
We sit at the dinner table where I try my best to follow along to their conversation in their fast and letter swallowed German. Though my host mom is nice enough to recap what is said in English after.
Especially being in the center of Europe, it can be tempting to escape to a new country every weekend. But it’s also good to remember that you picked that specific country to study abroad in for a reason.
If you decide to study abroad (which you definitely should) appreciate the country and city you are in. Take in the culture of the area and live among the people. But most of all, enjoy your time abroad.