I should probably begin by explaining the title of this review so you're not left wondering, "What the heck does he mean by 'Squeeze the Juice'?" During the orientation for my program, one of the program directors gave a presentation on getting the most out of your time abroad. He called this "Squeezing the Juice." Ridiculous as the phrase might have been, the phrase really caught on. It's hard to put such a life changing experience as studying abroad into words, and a reasonable amount of words at that, but here's a couple ways in which my program helped me squeeze the juice while I was abroad.
To begin with, my program had incredible faculty connections. I went to study music there, and was able to take private lessons from the retired 3rd horn of the Vienna Philharmonic, take composition classes from one of Austria's leading modern composers, and learn about acoustics from a leading sound engineer (who also happened to be a fantastic composer himself and jazz pianist). I had no idea I would be studying with such renowned faculty with my program, and got so much knowledge passed down from them.
Living wise, my program also made incredible accommodation as the apartment complex I lived in included a state of the art practice facility in the apartment! Only a few apartments in the complex were occupied by the program, and the rest were occupied by local tenants, so to have a private space to practice (horn) without disturbing the neighbors was unbelievable. Furthermore, within my apartment, I became very good friends with my apartment mates, and I am very happy my program provided us with this living opportunity.
Furthermore, the program provided us with excellently planned trips, including trips through class in Vienna and separate excursions with the program outside of Vienna. The excursions allowed for great opportunities to explore Austria without the hassle of having to organize your own trip. The program planned housing, transportation, activities, and several meals in these excursions. For example, one excursion I was able to visit the city of Graz during Austria's free museum night where I was able to visit several museums; my favorite being a key and lock museum I spent several hours in looking at locks and also trying to solve puzzle locks (emphasis on "trying"). Class trips allowed for hands on learning experiences and were funded by the program. I even got to go to my first Viennese ball thanks to my program, that was a blast!
The staff in the program were also extremely helpful. The 3 receptionists were very friendly and very accessible for help. I am also a soccer player, and with a few of the staff, I was able to join their local soccer team. I also had to go to the hospital at one point to get an MRI for a problem I was having with my elbow and a staff member kindly accompanied me to help me navigate the hospital. It was nice to have someone to talk to while waiting and someone who spoke fluent German with me. Also, as a side note, I was able to afford this MRI because my program had great insurance that covered any medical costs after the first 100 euros, so my insurance covered the entire MRI.
Finally, Vienna is an incredible place to study abroad. The public transportation is on point, with a fantastic Subway, bus, tram, and train system (that the program provides you with student discount cards for). Music is very affordable thanks to standing room ticket opportunities, and the music is obviously incredible. A few highlights for me were being able to see a new opera premier, see the Vienna Phil, see a Hans Zimmer concert (AND HANS ZIMMER WAS THERE), and seeing the Czech Philharmonic. I was also abroad in Fall and got to experience the adorable Viennese Christmas market. These pleasant markets were a fun place to be social but keep toasty out in the cold. I enjoyed these with my friends from the program and my language buddy (my program had a great language buddy program to help us be immersed in the culture, improve our German, and make friends). As a Californian it was fun to experience real winter there!
It is hard to put into words the amazing experience I had in Vienna between the Musical experience and the friends I made there, but none of those experience would have been possible without the help of my program in helping me squeeze the juice and teaching me how to.