Hey guys, Erika here.
Before I get started on my experience with preparing to study abroad, I’d like to give you guys a bit of my background. I am a 4th year marketing major from Boca Raton and so far I’ve been to around 50 different countries throughout my life and I’ve actually already studied abroad last summer in Vienna, Austria for 6 weeks. My trip last summer was one of the main reasons I decided not to graduate early in December even though I technically have all the credits necessary and to go back to Vienna for the full exchange experience. There was just something telling me that there’s more out there, more to learn and more connections to make before I start working. And Although I have had plenty experience abroad, nothing fully prepares you for being on your own in another country especially since each experience is vastly different. Sure things get easier and you get more comfortable traveling around, but this is the first time I’m leaving my home state and family for over 4 months.
Preparing to study abroad has been like waiting in line for rollercoaster ride of emotions; You know to expect that there will be up’s, downs, twists, and turns and everything will move so fast. You’ll probably wish someone would just pull the brakes because you feel your seatbelts not on tight enough and you’re going to fall out flat on your face. Waiting in line and getting through the initial jitters of “should I really do this?” can be almost as scary as the ride itself because you know that once you’re on its almost impossible to get off. But what I’ve learned from past experiences abroad, I think it’s best to relax, breathe, and just go for it. So this time I am going hold on tight and try enjoy every part of this whirlwind, especially the scary parts because there’s a lot to learn. When I initially applied to study abroad, I was 100% sure of myself and extremely excited to go but as my flight has been approaching I keep questioning whether I am making the right choice for me and have been ten times more nervous than I was when getting ready to leave for my 6-week summer program. It only hit me now that I’d be away from loved ones for over 4 months and I won’t get a chance to just come home over the weekend like I did when living in Gainesville. This has probably been one of the most nerve wrecking experiences of my life but I’m sure once I’m settled in, I won’t want to leave.
I have just a few days before my first classes start at Vienna University of Economics and Business and I am looking forward to meeting new people and experiencing what Europe has to offer. Fortunately, I did meet a few people while in Vienna on my summer program last year, but every single person that was a student the summer abroad program was an international student so I didn’t have much of a chance to befriend many locals besides those working on the program and a few I met at concerts. So it’s nice I have a couple of familiar faces to look forward to seeing but I’m also ready to make new connections with more locals as well as the new exchange students on this program. Even though I don’t speak German, hopefully I’ll be able to pick up a bit while I’m here and if not, I’ll probably be helping others practice their English. A good thing about Austria is many students speak English and Austria is also located on the border of Hungary and Slovakia, which is where my parents are originally from, so I’ll have a chance to practice my Hungarian and Slovak speaking skills while traveling on weekends and will have family to visit if I am ever feeling like I need a break.
Well, I should probably finish up this post because I have a lot of packing and planning to do. I mean how am I supposed to fit my life into two suitcases and a carry on, especially, when going to a place that requires warm clothing? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see til next week when my bags are filled up and weighed.
Until next time, thanks for reading!