Vienna is so beautiful! Living here is unlike anything I have ever experienced before and getting adjusted was definitely something that took time. The everyday culture here is extremely different from what I am used to in life in Pittsburgh. For starters, most businesses and all grocery stores are closed on Sundays. Sunday is a day of no work, and Vienna is one of the cities that still practices this belief and therefore nearly everywhere, even restaurants, are mostly closed on Sundays with few exceptions. In addition, I would say the second largest cultural difference has been style both in terms of streetwear and the social norm in general. Vienna, and Austria in general, practice a business casual dress code. Particularly, Vienna University of Economics and business, where I am studying. It is extremely common to see people in slacks and button downs. You will never see anyone in sweatpants or loungewear, unless they are going to or from the gym. It is the social norm to dress “smart casual” for everyday life. Luckily, I learned this before coming and packed several nice sweaters and pants. However this was definitely an adjustment. Sweatshirts and sweatpants are seen as not the norm, and learning to dress business casual while being comfortable was an adjustment.
On a more personal level, this opportunity has been extremely educational for a number of reasons. I have learned more about new and different cultures as well as having the privilege to experience them firsthand. I have never lived anywhere else besides the United States, and life in Europe is much different on an everyday scale. From larger aspects like public transportation, to even smaller scale parts of the culture such as the coffee culture, vary greatly. As someone who consumes coffee and caffeine very regularly, one adjustment that was new to me, was that coffee here is meant to be enjoyed. I say this in the sense that there are not nearly as many “to go” coffee shops or even coffee shops that have “to go” options. Instead, it is far more common to sit down at a cafe and drink ones coffee with a snack, and then finish and proceed on with ones day. While there are still the occasional Starbucks, sitting and enjoying the coffee is much more common. Another adjustment was public transportation. Particularly in Vienna, it is extremely easy to use. There are the subways, trams (which are above ground trains that ride on the street), and buses. All of which can easily be navigated with google maps or any other mapping service. Overall however, I have to say that while yes, Europe and Vienna in particular were an adjustment, I have grown tremendously as a person in such a short amount of time, and I accredit a large portion of this to the overall gift it has been to experience new culture and opportunity.