A Letter to My Pre-Departure Self

As my time abroad comes to an end, I’ve been fortunate enough to reflect on all the different ways that I’ve grown within the last few months. Studying in Vienna has provided an immense amount of opportunities that I will look back on fondly.

  • Experiencing a different education style has broadened my perspective with a variety of learning and teaching techniques. As WU is primarily presentation and group work-focused, I’ve learned a substantial amount related to public speaking and spacing out a course’s workload. Being an international student has exposed me to professors, homework/assignments/tests, and an education system unlike my time at Pitt. I’ve also grown as a student by learning to balance a healthy school and social life that has allowed me to explore around Austria while still finding time to complete my schoolwork.
  • Understanding different forms of communication, both spoken and non-verbal, has helped me to grow as an individual by becoming more self-aware. In other countries, Austria included, social cues tend to vary quite drastically. Many of my classmates (from other countries within the EU) had a variety of communication preferences that went far beyond just their native language. I found myself gaining a better understanding of different cultures and norms while learning how to absorb information in a more diverse way.

Before the program began, I was hesitate about how easily I would be able to transition into a foreign lifestyle that I previously had no experience in. While only coming to Vienna with a few prior connections, I wish I had reminded myself that everyone going abroad experiences the same feelings of nervousness, homesickness, and potential discomfort with a new situation; fortunately, these feelings fade quickly as you become more adapted to everyday life.

I was most surprised by my level of adaptation. While it definitely took a fair amount of time to get settled to a new (and completely different) way of living, I was impressed with my ability to deal with change and make the best of the surrounding unfamiliarity. I feel as if I immersed well into the culture and norms of Austrian life — I found myself really enjoying the challenges / unexpected encounters that came along with living abroad. Despite knowing that I’ll be back in America in a little under a month, studying at WU has re-affirmed my desire to spend a small part of my post-graduation life working abroad.