Servus Alles 🙂
Ich bin daheim, is the Austrian way of saying “zu Hause” in German. It’s true, I’m finally home in Arkansas after my 6-ish month adventure living in Graz and discovering Europe. I’ve had time to sit back and resettle, and now I’m here to deliver my final thoughts, remarks, advice and tips. 🙂
If I’m being honest, being back home has been tough on me, and it’s been intensified more because I’m also graduating in August, and so I’m back at the drawing board for my future plans. Many that know me are aware I have plan A, B, C, D, E, F, and even a plan G. Right now I’m in a transitional stage in life where I’m not sure where I’m going, I just know where I’d like to be. I’ve been happy to be with my loved ones, but being home has also felt like a very hard reality check. I’m no longer on random buses or trains to unknown destinations, rather I’m at my desk researching opportunities like the wind and checking emails. Even though I don’t know what will officially come next, so ist das Leben und alles wird “okay” sein. Our lives our journeys, and at 22 years super-young/semi-experienced/amateur at most things, I’ve got a lot to learn and the globe as my classroom.
Although, I’m not going to discredit how happy I am about the free bathrooms, free refills on drinks, driving my car, eating authentic Lao food, taco bell, non-limited WiFi, and air conditioning. Coming home after a trip abroad is always a process, and I’ve learned this from traveling before, whether you’re gone for a weekend, a week, a month, or couple of months, it all takes time to get back into the swing of things.
I realized the differences between the US and Austria very quickly, and now that I’m coming home I’m finding that I’m reliving some culture shock, but this time it’s reversed. When I came home I felt weird overhearing English instead of German. I had to make sure I didn’t accidentally slip out any German phrases, and it felt very strange speaking in English to people in restaurants or information booths while I was at the airport. I may or may not have muttered an “entschuldigung” while walking around people, but soon the words “excuse me” started to come out. I really miss speaking German and having more abundant opportunities to speak German and learn through informal ways, but I’m working on trying to keep up as much German as I can at home. Other things that have been reverse-culture shock to me is how we handle our trash in the US, and the way things are packaged here that produce so much unnecessary waste. I made a call after getting back about getting recycling cans for my house (High five to those in the US that already do this) and now I feel better about the waste that I create. I know it shouldn’t have taken me going all the way to Austria to care more, but it was easy to throw everything into “restmüll”. I’ve also been more aware of how much I don’t walk around in the US, mostly because of the unforgiving heat. I’ve started taking up more walks, and that has helped with missing the ability to walk to stores and parks. All in all, I’ve learned things from Austrian culture that I wish to take back with me, and I’ve learned how to create more happy-mediums with the culture differences.
My advice for study abroad? Just go. I know when people are preparing to study abroad it’s scary. They don’t know if they’ll get accepted, be able to communicate, have enough money, have the skills to make it on their own, but these are all things that you find out about yourself when you force yourself to try. Traveling has always been an exciting pull for me and it’s been a great catalyst for my own personal growth. I would be more than happy to share all of my knowledge about going to Karl-Franzens University, Graz, and adjusting to a new country to anyone who considers studying abroad. Future students, this is my open invitation to you for personalized help/advice/etc. Just contact Frau Haulmark, the study abroad facilitator at Tech, for my contact information. 🙂
I’ve left you all with some thoughts, remarks, advice, and now just a couple of random tips!
- Make every day count, learn a new word, visit a new place, make a new friend, or discover a new idea. Take one important thing away from each day and it will never be wasted.
- The best kebabs in Graz is Antalyas, make sure you get it with Käse and chili. Trust me.
- Email your professors early in case your issues are time sensitive, if they don’t answer show up at their office (but check their office times, because it’s usually just one day for a couple of hours.)
- Multiple trips to the Uhrturm are a must, and take the stairs!
- Don’t feed the pigeons, they’ll follow you. Although, if you want you can “pigeon someone” in which you throw some food near someone’s feet and they get “pigeoned” when a swarm gathers. It’s pretty funny to watch, but they might get mad at you. (I’m sorry everyone)
- Sign up for a Tandem speaking partner! You’ll practice a lot of spoken German and you’ll make a friend.
- The answer to “do you want a kebab?” is always yes.
- Never pay a 8 euro and above cover charge.
- If you don’t know where you should meet someone, just say “Jakominiplatz”.
- Enjoy your time there, laugh at your mistakes, travel to somewhere new, meet friends from all over the world, be nice, and you’ll do just fine. 🙂
I guess the only thing left to say is Tschüss! Bis zum nächsten Mal! & thanks for listening/reading/and following me on my Journey! 🙂