Navigation: Main Content Sections

Study Abroad

Home Away from Home

“Grüß Gott! Bitte schön?”

When people ask me what I miss most about Vienna, this is the first thing that comes to mind. It is the greeting everyone receives upon setting foot in a restaurant, store, almost anywhere really. I also think it speaks worlds to the effect a semester abroad has for students, especially those in business. Despite all the great travel opportunities we had and the unforgettable excursions we took, most of all we remember the small niceties that were a part of our home on the other side of the globe.

As an accountancy major, fitting a study abroad semester in took some planning beforehand, but it all paled in comparison to the phenomenal experience that was our semester abroad in Austria. From the moment we arrived we were greeted by the Austrian Alps, spending our first week in mountains that could easily serve as the back of a postcard. And it only got better from there—going out with new friends and traveling around the world simply became normal parts of our lives. Through the unique opportunity that the WU Wien presents as such an international university, having dinner with Austrians, Australians, and every nationality in between became as easy as walking down the hall to the floor kitchen.

But as much of the world outside of Vienna that we saw, there was nothing quite like pulling into the Westbahnhof (train station) or getting back to your stop on the U-bahn (metro). That’s what really defined the experience for me. There came a point when we realized we weren’t simply on a European tour—we were truly living in Europe. And having that home away from home is something I think every student should experience.

Since my study abroad there hasn’t been a single time I’ve talked to a recruiter and not been asked about my experience in Austria. Given the global nature of business, I personally believe being comfortable in unfamiliar cultures and environments is a valuable asset and will eventually become a necessity. That notwithstanding, I would still not trade my experience for the world even if it had no professional benefits. Vienna is one of those cities where you feel like you’re stepping back in time, but with all the amenities of the present. From ice skating outside the grand city hall to grilling out on the banks of the Danube River, there is always something new to do.

Hopefully this letter has given you a brief look into what life an exchange student is like. One unanimous regret was that we could not stay longer, but the time we spent in Austria was among the best in our lives. And with that, I will leave you as the Austrians do, with a traditional Viennese good-bye:

“Tschüss, baba!“

Tony Greif (Spring 2009, CBP)