I am both excited and nervous about going abroad. I have never been on an airplane before, so that’s one obstacle that I have to overcome to even get to the place. I’ve spent a lot of time looking up stuff about what it’s like to be on an airplane and asking people too, so I have concluded that I should most likely be fine! I think even though it may be a little scary, seeing the world from so high up should actually be kind of cool.
Preparing to go on this trip has actually been quite stressful, I feel as if I have been stressed since December when I started my application. As a low-income student, a lot of the challenges to my preparation to go to Austria (and to even apply) surfaced in the financial area. I consistently had a difficult time knowing where money was going to come from (how am I going to buy a passport just so I can apply to the program? How can I say that I’m going to participate in the program before knowing how much aid I will get from school? I am poor!!). Thankfully, everything worked out, but it could’ve easily not worked out at the last second or something. Looking ahead, I am happy to finally not have to worry so much about money while I’m gone because my LSA Study Abroad Scholarship refund was more than I expected. I am happy that I don’t have to feel low-income while abroad.
Another concern I have in going to Europe is being Black. I am a little worried about being met with too much attention or maybe being looked upon with disgust. Europe is a very white place. However, I am still generally excited to go but I just hope my skin tone doesn’t make others give me a hard time. I am also concerned about being one of two people of color participating in my program. I don’t really know what everyone else (White) is like. Are they socially conscious or not and will that effect how we interact? Will they overlook me or actually befriend me? I hope everything goes well. I think generally everyone in my group is pretty nice, but I still don’t know them very well at all so I hope that my first impression from meeting them at the Pre Departure meetings is correct. Overall I’m fairly nervous about going to Austria, but now that I only have one day left until I’m actually in Europe, I am getting more excited. Even if something goes wrong, at least I got to go to Europe and at least I will learn something from the experience!
I absolutely love it in Vienna. I had nothing to worry about at all! I was so concerned at first that everyone wouldn’t like me, or something like that just because I’m the only Black person, but that is not the case at all! For the most part, all 16 of us get along really well and I am so thankful for that. I really like this group and would love to remain friends with people from this trip once we leave.
I thought I would stick out like a sore thumb here in Europe because I’m Black too, and I do, but it doesn’t feel the way that I thought it would. I thought it would be awkward because I figured Europeans might react negatively to me but that hasn’t happened at all! I think because Vienna is a large city, it has a good mix of people so it’s no big deal that I’m not White or European. I am really happy about that because feeling like an alien so far from home would have definitely made me sad. Similarly, I worried about sticking out with my group too and not getting along with them but in reality I get along with them so well that I forget to worry about looking different from them. Luckily none of them are racist so that’s wonderful for me.
I cannot say enough how much I love it here. I truly feel like I’m having the time of my life and that this is a life changing experience. I love the new friends I’ve made. We are all so similar, and we have great days together everyday. I didn’t anticipate this in the beginning but I’m actually sad to leave them because we only have a few more days left.
In addition to being here with such a great group, I also just really love Vienna. Vienna is a beautiful city and the first place in Europe that I have ever been. In my time here I have so far visited both Salzburg and Budapest and Vienna is still my favorite out of those three. In Vienna it is as if beauty grows on trees. There is lovely architecture, impressive statues, and palaces everywhere. In comparison to this, the United States is ugly. I had always thought that Angell Hall was beautiful but now that I’ve seen palaces my standards have risen. I love the beauty here; it is so wonderful that I don’t want to go home. We are about two weeks in and I have yet to get homesick. If I could remain here for the whole summer with this same group of people, I would!
I am finally (and unfortunately) back in the United States. I really did not want to come home at all. I really loved being in Europe, and I think I would move to Vienna in a heartbeat. Before study abroad I had never even given Austria any consideration; I wanted to go to France, Italy, or Germany, aka the common travel destinations. Initially I was slightly upset that I wasn’t going to either of those places, but I chose Austria because I was really interested in the program. In the end, I believe that applying to the Art and Music in Vienna program was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
I had the time of my life in Austria, and no this isn’t hyperbole. I was able to experience a beautiful city with amazing people, and I am so grateful that I was able to have this experience. Going abroad is something that I have always wanted to do, but because of my family’s financial background, and the fact that I’m not a STEM major, this goal always seemed out of reach. Without the LSA Study Abroad Scholarship and the financial aid help it would have been absolutely impossible for me to participate in this program. With my scholarship refund I was able to have more than enough money to convert to euros while I was in Austria. It was so wonderful to feel financially secure for those 3 weeks and not have to worry about running out of money. I think that really contributed to me having a lovely study abroad experience.
Also like I previously mentioned, I never really felt out of place being Black. I think I was actually less conscious of my Blackness abroad than I am in America. I am proud to be Black and I wouldn’t trade that for anything, but it was nice to just exist in Austria and not really have to worry about other peoples’ perception of me based on my skin tone, and the politics of it all. I was just me.
If I could, I would go back to Austria right now with the same group of people that I was just there with. We all became friends very quickly and I am really happy about that. I left for Austria with 15 strangers but I returned with 15 new friends! I never expected to get along with everyone that well, I had hoped that I at least got along with 2 out of 15. But in this case reality was actually a lot better than I expected! I was really well received by everyone, as I kept things funny and was everyone’s photographer. I loved hanging with everyone as a group and learning/experiencing new things together. I will never forget the wonderful time I had in Vienna.