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Study Abroad

Change your life . . .

Spending a year living in Vienna will have a profound effect on your life. To what degree remains your decision. Undoubtedly though, you will be left neither able to fully comprehend it nor fully articulate the change in yourself for sometime. Even now, looking back a year later, I am far from the truth.

What I am trying to say is: If you have the chance to go, even for a semester, go (but a year is best, you’ll be wishing you had if you don’t). If you have any doubt about missing friends or family, go anyway. They are only an electronic impulse away and new friends are right next door. If you doubt your skill in German, go to prove your doubts wrong. The semester before I left I was getting D after D in GER 211, but over the year I worked my way through courses at the UW and WU with great success thanks to immersion in the language and the guidance of Professor Murray. When I returned home to finish my last semester I had even completed a second major in German in three semesters.

On the subject of Professor Murray though, or Brucer as one AIEPer calls him, he is a wonderful resource. It is impossible to feel alone in Vienna with his quirky smile and readiness to help. At any moment he seems ready to steer you through what ever troubles you’re having, especially if your trouble consists of finding a new café or restaurant to visit. And he’ll remain a great resource after you leave.

It strikes me as unlikely though, that during your time in Vienna you would have trouble finding a good place to grab a Mélange (Viennese coffee) and perhaps eine Schokoladentorte. The city is filled with opportunities, if you pay attention. Perhaps these opportunities are sometimes a little expensive, but if you walk the fine line of indulgence and overindulgence, you’ll find that living in Vienna for a year costs barely more than your freshman year living in the dorms.

Those costs include traveling, by the way, at least as it figured out for me. There are so many days off during the Austrian school calendar that you would swear they must be lazy. They are not; they simply appreciate free time in their lives. And while they’re doing that, you can hop a train to Budapest, ride a bus to Prague, or catch a train to one of the loveliest spots in Eastern Europe: Slovenia (go there, it’s cheap and amazing during the fall).

If you’re not convinced by now that you should go, go anyway. It’s an excellent opportunity, and in today’s international and tough market it is often pivotal to go abroad. So why not go with a program that transfers all your credits? Have your cake and eat it too. Go ahead.

Alan Bannister (2004-05)