I did it, I made it through a whole month of being in Wiener Neustadt, Austria. The days pass by at what it seems to be a slow pace, but then when I look back, it has indeed been a whole month! So much has happened between arriving, getting settled in, finding routine, travelling, and just being my own individual. When I look at where I started, and how far I have come, I can finally say that I made it.
This week has truly brought me to a place where I have discovered a new level of happiness. I have crossed the adjustment bridge – I am finally at a place where I feel everything that I have wanted to feel since I started planning this journey. I have started to be completely content with my life here away from home. I am feeling inspired. I have found inspiration in the person that I want to be, who I want to become, and what I want to do with my life. A lot of this corresponds with the classes I am taking.
I am in the BBA program at Algoma University, which has paired up with the Business Consultancy International program here at the University of Applied Sciences, Wiener Neustadt. Although my classes are like those of which I would be enrolled in at Algoma, here at FHWN, what I am learning has an international twist on everything. I love learning about business from an international perspective and it has helped me to see a whole new light. I also am enrolled in a class called Intercultural Business Skills, which has added to this new love of learning that I am experiencing. We learn about people, and how their background and culture shapes them. I think it is amazing to learn about the perspectives of other people and to take something as simple as, let’s say, a flower, and to see how people view that flower so differently. Before I came here, Sault Ste. Marie (SSM), Ontario was all I knew and being surrounded by SSM Italians my whole life has only shown me one perspective and one way of thinking. Turns out, there is so much more to life than SSM, and I am finally discovering it. Before coming to Austria, I knew I wanted to learn something new, and gain a new perspective and I am honoured to express this part of my journey. The part where I start to discover myself, something that every individual wants to do while they are studying abroad. Learning abroad isn’t just about seeing new things, I believe that it is about feeling new emotions as well.
This inspiration led to me facing a challenge this week. March 8th was International Women’s Day and to honor that day, my Apple Watch Fitness App challenged me to double my every-day fitness goal. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy, but with some motivation, how could I not try? So, I woke up early that morning before my 9 am class, conquered a workout, and then did so again after class. I then walked with my friends to the mall to buy a smoothie, and as I took a sip, it turned out I had reached my goal! My watch vibrated and I received the award. It was an amazing feeling, accomplishing something that I told myself for two days might not be possible. I encouraged my mom to reach the goal as well. We both reached it and we’re so proud of each other. I love that each day, my mom and I support each other in fitness and in every aspect of life – even while being on other sides of the globe. Each day is an accomplishment and a building block to where life is taking me. With how I am feeling at this point, I can’t wait to see how I feel four months from now. I hope that I can inspire other people to reach little goals, and to keep moving forward. Trust me, you will find that place where you are truly happy and you will be inspired. Life is amazing.
To finish off a week spent in Wiener Neustadt, my friends and I once again took off to Vienna for a Sunday trip to see more of the magical city that makes up the capital of the country. We ate at the Sky Café and Restaurant, where we dined with a view of the Vienna city centre. You could see the spectacular design of the St. Stephens Cathedral, the place that we first made our way to after lunch. We took the spiral stairway to the top of the tower and embraced a view of the city once again – you gain a new appreciation for Vienna with every new angle you see. This then led us to the destination that I have been wanting to arrive at since I found out I would be coming to Austria. We made our way to the Hundertwasserhaus, which I like to call ‘the wall.’ Two years ago, when I began to do research on Austria, this wall caught my eye on several occasions. It is a piece of art that became the screensaver on my phone without me even knowing what it was! This wall was an apartment building, designed by Friedensreich Hundertwaser, and seeing the expressionist architecture style in person was everything I had ever imagined and more. Safe to say that I can finally stop bugging my friends about going there.
We also went to the Schönbrunn Palace, a place that you could spend a whole day at if you planned on covering the whole surface area. The palace itself was magnificent, and looking out at it brought yet another view of Vienna that you don’t want to leave behind. This finally led us to the Belvedere Meuseum, where we captured its beauty for a few minutes and made our way back to the train station to come home. I felt so fulfilled by this day, especially the part where I Facetimed my parents looking out to the Schönbrunn Palace so I could experience something special with them as they enjoyed their morning coffee.
This week has been about appreciating all that is around me, including all those little things that make up the big picture. I am so overwhelmed with joy at this stage of my study abroad experience, and am ready to embrace everything that is ahead of me. I advise everyone reading this to do the same, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, because life is too short not to enjoy every single moment.
P.S. Shout out to Professor Pelham Matthews for drilling presentation practice into us over the past couple years. It has come in handy.
Written by: Alexandra Berlingieri