I have been living in Austria for the last 10 months, since I got the wonderful opportunity to study at the prestigious University of Vienna. I was very nervous to leave home back in September, as I had never been away from my family and friends for so long, but I was also incredibly excited. My mum flew over with me to help settle me in, but unfortunately she had to leave much earlier than planned. Because this was so unexpected, it was even harder to say goodbye and was, of course, extremely daunting to have to organise everything by myself. However, I was able to meet some lovely people almost immediately, and I soon felt very at home in Vienna.
The city itself is beautiful in all seasons and has so much to offer for everyone. It took me a while to get to grips with the city, since I had never lived in such a big place, but there was something about Vienna that always made me feel very comfortable. In fact, I was never as overwhelmed as I thought I would be.
Looking back, I realise that I was fortunate enough to visit all the key places that Vienna has to offer; Schönbrunn Palace, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Karlskirche and Belvedere Palace are just a few examples. I say
‘fortunate’ because I was living in Vienna in the midst of the pandemic, so a lot of places were closed for numerous months. It was certainly difficult to fully immerse myself given the restrictions and the lack of opportunities to interact with locals and other students. However, studying at the University of Vienna still helped me expand my language which was very important to me. I found the modules engaging and I was able to learn a lot about Austria and the German language itself.
The highlight of my year was being able to visit cities such as Salzburg and Budapest, which would not have been possible without the support of the John Speak Trust. Their financial generosity enabled me to explore the most famous parts of Vienna, other popular places in Austria, and a city with a completely different culture and atmosphere.
My time in Vienna was incredible and I will always cherish the memories I made there. I met some life-long friends who made the experience particularly special; in fact, we have made a pact to go back to Vienna together one day and re-live some of our favourite moments there.