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Study Abroad

Why Study in Vienna?

For most people this may be a difficult question to answer, but for meBno way! I had always wanted to go abroad, and the exchange program in Vienna seemed the best and most reasonable (financially) way to go.

Those who study abroad usually have no idea what to expect, and I was certainly no exception. However, when I arrived in Vienna I knew immediately that I was going to have the best time of my life and that the experiences would change my life.

One of the most important aspects of the AIEP (aside from traveling and cultural adventures), was that way the Program was directed. In addition to teaching Program core courses in German literature and culture, the Director helped us with bureaucratic tasks, academic planning, preparing for instruction at the Viennese universities, and making sure that we received credit for our completed courses. He also organized many excursions in Vienna and elsewhere in Austria. Program-financed trips included visits to castles, monasteries, museums, renowned concert halls and theaters, the Danube river valley for biking, and the Alps for hikes and skiing. (We even saw the U.S. national soccer team beat the Austrians in preparation for the World Cup championship.)

Chances are you might forego similar opportunities if you had to plan and pay for them yourself. My personal favorites included the bike trip along the Danube and the week-long ski trip near Zell am See. Just imagine having a hotel on top of a mountain where all you can see from your window are snow-covered mountain ranges and skiers. This was my view, with a balcony, too!

Of course, the AIEP also helps you to experience everyday living in Austria. Many students have stereotypes about living conditions in Europe, myself included. Well, now I can say, don=t worry about that in Vienna. Our dorm was built in 1994 and includes a study room, music room, sauna (excellent), weight room (small), tanning bed, and laundry room--all on the top floor. On the ground floor there is also a dorm bar. You cant=s ask for much more. Each floor has its own kitchen (with ovens and refrigerators), and each room has a telephone, desks, and bathroom with shower and toilet. Many rooms also have refrigerators supplied by our Austrian roommates. The dorm is well-situated only three blocks from the main train station, one block from the subway and a ten-minute walk from one of the main shopping streets.

If at all possible, don=t let this opportunity to study in Vienna for an entire year slip away. There are so many things to do, people to meet, cultures to experience. In fact, the person I sat next to on the plane to Vienna became one of my best friends! Studying in Vienna was one of the best learning and growing experiences for me. Never before had I felt so inhibited by language barriers and cultures, and never before did I learn so well to adapt to change. And in the end I had as many hours of university credit as I would have accumulated in the U.S. If you think going to Vienna will cause a culture shock, ten months later you will find the same thing happening when you return to the U.S. Once the year was over I was sad to leave and wished I could stay. Actually, I did go back for spring break this year! Good luck with your study abroad. Believe me, you won=t regret it.

Chas Berckmann