When you are preparing to study abroad, many people may advise you on the “culture shock” that you will feel when first arriving. They talk about how overwhelming it can be to find yourself amid a society completely different than your own, surroundings unlike anything you are used to, and a language you cannot understand. Some friends and family members have shared with me that at the beginning they felt so lost and lonely. I began my journey from the U.S. to Johannes Kepler Universität Linz Austria with uttermost excitement but was cautiously optimistic about how my first few weeks would go.
After just a few weeks, I am honestly shocked by the lack of “culture shock” I have experienced. I have been in constant awe by the beauty all around me. There are Gothic and Baroque palaces and churches mixed with new, modern buildings that lay within green and wooded rolling hills. The Danube splits Linz right through the city center and as if that wasn’t enough, there is also a lake located right by my dorm.
All the international students I’ve met have also added to my amazement. Coming from all over the world, each individual is so unique—yet we all share the same curiosity, adventurous spirit, and open mindedness. My new friends are brilliant.
Everyone can speak at least 2 languages, and most can speak 3 or 4. These people are cultured and up-to-date on what is going on in today’s world. We all share a drive to be the best that we can be and are not afraid to make it happen. International business/economics or computer science are the two majors that we have in common.
Talking about summer internships and future career plans with like-minded people is so rewarding. To see how everyone enjoys their studies in a slightly different way and how they plan to implement that passion in their future career is something I did not expect to find so fascinating.
Walking on the main street, Landstraße, on the first day literally brought tears to my eyes. The weather was perfect, I was with my newly acquainted friends, and there was a big market going on and it was crowded with locals. I was so happy to be in that moment and was filled with gratefulness that I get to call this place mine for a little while. A friend and I were waiting at a tram stop a few days later, and she explained how Linz just feels like home – as if she was reading my mind.
“I’ve known since I was young, I wouldn’t stay where I was from. Wouldn’t take the easy road, went ahead and made my own. Why walk when you can run?” This is the first verse from My Way Up by Molly Kate Kestner and this has been my song. I truly feel like I am on my way up and am exuberant and intrigued about what lies ahead.
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