Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, I knew I would want to spend time abroad someday. I was always curious about other countries, cultures and languages. I was ready to get out of my comfort zone and travel the world. I spent five weeks with Auburn’s Summer Program in Vienna, Austria. I had my language and culture classes in the afternoon but my language class technically wasn’t over at 3. I would use German before and after I was at the institute. As a German major, I loved putting my German into practice. Whether it was ordering coffee or watching the morning news with my host mom, I was immersed in my second language. I enjoyed learning about the culture and history of Austria and seeing history come alive.
From the art museum to the beautiful palace of Schönbrunn, it was a constant feeling of “Wow, I’m actually here”. One of my favorite things to do was go explore around the city. I strolled along the Ringstrasse, a road circling the first district of Vienna, passing locals and tourists alike, the great Döner kebab food stands, and seeing the Parliament building and the town hall. I loved experiencing the new food in Vienna, whether it was Döner kebabs, Wiener schnitzel, or just grocery shopping at Billa. The Viennese are known for their coffeehouses and there is no surprise why when you first taste the coffee. My host mom would make a cup for my roommate and me every morning before we caught the U-Bahn (the underground) to class. When I first arrived in Vienna, sleep deprived from my flight, she made sure I got some sleep and then showed me around the city, where my classes would be, and how to use the U-Bahn. At the end of the trip, she took my roommate and me to where we could see all of Vienna from the top of a mountain. She then took us to the Hundertwasserhaus, a building famous for its type of architecture. The Austrians and Germans were some of the friendliest people I had ever met.
I fulfilled my dream of going to Neuschwanstein, sang the “Sound of Music” in Salzburg, and conquered my fear of heights riding the cable cars to the Untersberg. I was inspired by Prague which soared away from the former Soviet bloc. I loved the culture and the enjoyment of life that Central Europe had. Through my trip to Munich and watching the Euro Cup, I became a soccer fan cheering on Germany in their semifinal against Italy. While Germany did not win, I found that I enjoyed the sport. Our last weekend in Vienna was the start of the Summer Olympics in London. It was fascinating to watch the Opening Ceremony and Saturday’s events through the British perspective on Eurosport. I believe that every student should have the opportunity to study abroad. It is an amazing, life-changing experience that you only receive once in your life. Study abroad gives you the chance to be immersed in a new culture and try and experience things that you would not or could not have at home.
— Katherine Moreman