For me, my time in Vienna will be remembered as a time of personal growth and self-understanding. During my program, my German skills improved tremendously but more importantly I felt more connected with others. The language barrier proved troublesome at first, but as time progressed communication became easier. My favorite nights were those when my host mother and I would talk in half German/half English about anything we could think of. I loved hearing a European perspective and she loved hearing an American perspective on politics, pop culture, and more than anything else 90s/00s music. I felt this connection with almost everyone I met while abroad, seeing how similar we are as humans, despite cultural differences.
Some of my most memorable moments in Austria came from the family dinners we had. Our apartment building had a sense of community that I have never experienced before. Doors were almost always left open and new people popped in for dinner every night. Everyone brought something to share, from strudels and salads to cakes and bottles of champagne for my birthday. I let my host mom know very soon after I moved in that I enjoy cooking, asking if she would take me under her wing in the kitchen. Five weeks and fifteen pounds later, I felt as though I could open my own Austrian restaurant. She taught me how to make Wiener Schnitzel, my favorite traditional Austrian dish, German potato salad, strudels, and much more. I returned the favor by hosting an “American” dinner, featuring, you guessed it, cheeseburgers.
As a lifelong fan of the beautiful game, a professional fußball (soccer) match was a must for me. Unfortunately, I was saddened to find out it was the Austrian Bundesliga’s off-season during my time there. League games wouldn’t continue until a few days after I departed for the US. I thought I was just out of luck However, during my last week, I saw an ad flash on a screen in a subway station. My budding German skills were nothing to brag about at the time, but the message read loud and clear: Rapid Wien would be playing a tournament game on my last day in Vienna. The day finally came and I packed beforehand, knowing I would be leaving to the airport right after the game. I donned my iconic green Rapid jersey and left for the stadium. The fans were incredible: a parade took place before the game, flares and flags flew during the games, and chants and songs were sung nonstop. These were all contributing factors to a dominating 3-0 performance by Vienna’s best team, Rapid. On the subway ride home, fans made up a sea of green in every car and continued singing into the night. I went home grabbed my bags and left for the airport, the Weststadion chant still ringing in my ears.
— Bradley Bayuga
AU Liberal Arts – Summer Program in Vienna, Austria