Something has gone seriously wrong with my perception of time because even as I write this I don’t really believe that it has been almost 3 weeks since I arrived. Where all that time has gone, I have no idea. I still have an insanely long list of things that I am supposed to have done upon arrival in Vienna, but somehow the days have become one long blur of sightseeing trails (courtesy of my trusty Rough Guide), half-understood Proseminars and – of course – Erasmus nights.
Much to my parents’ relief, however, I have managed to tick off number one on that list: “Find a flat..!” Thinking about it now, my first week would have been so much easier had I simply applied for a room in a student residence as the Uni had suggested. Instead I spent months trawling the internet, sending quite literally hundreds of e-mails to potential roomies, with absolutely no luck whatsoever. So I arrived with no place to stay and a week of hotel-hopping ahead of me. Anyway, to cut a long story short, after visiting one rather dubious-looking alternative (and it’s equally dubious-looking owner), I did eventually get that perfect flat I was looking for: my room is huge and bright, there is a tram-stop right outside that goes straight to the University in 15mins, and I am living with two genuine, real-life Austrians. Just as soon as I can convince them not to speak to me in English, I’m sure my German will flourish…
With all that flat-hunting out of the way, I’ve had more time to revel in being abroad. Even though classes have started already, it still feels like I’m on holiday here. There are so many things to see and do around Vienna that I can already see one semester simply won’t do this place justice. Vienna itself is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited. Every building it so lavishly and intricately decorated that it really is difficult to tell where the palaces end and the
regular shops and houses begin. Even the Erasmus Welcome Party was held at Palais Eschenbach, which had the slightly surreal atmosphere of a nightclub within a stately home… Only in Vienna!
And out in the suburbs is the Wienerwald: a huge area of forest that stretches from the edge of the city into the lower part of the Alps. With temperatures almost hitting 30°C last week, I’ve been trying to make the most of what is left of summer. A group of us caught a bus to Kahlenberg – a nearby mountain in the Wienerwald with incredible views over the city (which, I only then discovered, is enormous). We also spent a lazy Sunday afternoon drifting through the Wiener Prater – a huge area of gardens, playing fields, and an amusement park – where the striking colours on the trees reminded us that autumn was well underway. Fittingly, the temperature has since plummeted, and we are forecast to have our first snow of the season by the end of the week. And, of course, the heating in my flat isn’t working. I won’t lie, I am freezing. But I can’t wait to see the Austrian Weihnachtszeit I signed up for!
Of course classes have started too, but looking at my timetable you’d hardly notice it. In the Germanistik department at least, you are given free rein to put together whatever combination of courses you like, which can be a rather confusing when the list of available classes is virtually endless. It has taken me forever (and I have had to sit through many wrong lectures in the process) but I think I might have finally nailed my selection. From what I’ve seen so far, the workload shouldn’t be too intense (though I’m sure I will regret those words come January assessments), and for the most part lectures are easy to follow. Still, it’s always reassuring to know that when you do miss something here, there are four words that can seemingly solve any given situation: “Entschuldigung, ich bin Erasmus…”