Letters from Vienna

In a nutshell, I am a sophomore at Oakland University who has decided to bank on the crazy notion of studying in Vienna, Austria for 87 days while living with my young aunt and her two Chihuahuas.

Reporting on a biweekly basis, I will dare to present the nonsugarcoated truth I have spent years building in an attempt to create a temporary one in a matter of three months.

In the center of Vienna, I sit facing a fountain simply letting my words flow like the illuminated water cascading down intricately detailed statues. Behind me are people watching an opera projected outside the Vienna Opera House.

This is what I had been expecting. Surrounded by the beauty of ancient architecture and the classical music that has proven to withstand the test of time itself, I find myself in the Vienna I had envisioned.

Expectations are rarely factual. Even though I refused to admit it, I had grandiose expectations of what it means to live in Vienna. I did not realize exactly what it is to leave all that is familiar in hopes of becoming immersed in a culture that is alien.

I loosely declared that studying abroad would be an adventure, ignoring the fact that the word itself implies danger, and perhaps even sacrifice.

I had always considered myself a cultured individual. Ironically, it was not until I first walked into a Viennese subway when I realized the true meaning of diversity. Irish, African and Asian factions spoke their national language and dressed according to their culture. I could not help but stare about me in fascination; I felt as if I had arrived in the center of the world.

A first impression of the Austrian people is comparable to those who populate the city of New York. It seems that everyone goes about their own business, inhabiting a world entirely their own. In fact, to look someone in the eye while passing him or her on the street is to develop a connection you did not have permission to develop, a rather small invasion of privacy.

A different facade of Vienna is the hopelessly romantic one. The castles and cobblestone streets give the sense of being in a fairy-tale. In fact, there is a couple that has been kissing on the nearby sidewalk for the past half hour. Get a room.

The luxury found in the wealthy city of Wien is overwhelming. Everything I have eaten so far tastes as if it is gourmet when, for example, it may have only been an inexpensive sandwich purchased from a local grocery store.

In all honesty, I feel as if I had seen enough of Vienna and would very much like to return home for the night, sleep in my bed, dance around the living room with my little sister and eat home-cooked meals. I miss my family and friends so much I could cry.

It is home  that is one’s castle and where an individual is a prince or princess.

Surrounded by people who love me, I needed to make no effort to define who I am or establish an image of how I wished to be perceived. I was loved for who I was. There truly is no place like home.

I have come to Vienna in search of adventure; I’ve come to learn more about myself, the world I live in and humanity. I am certain that come what may; I will be the better for it.