The IES program in Vienna created the best semester abroad I could've ever asked for. I felt welcomed right away by the staff who were extremely attentive and very experienced in helping in various situations. They really created a home base for their students. One of my favorite parts were the incredible trips they organized, such as the ski trip on a glacier in the Austrian Alps (many people learned to ski for the first time on this trip), a journey through the beautiful mountain villages in the west up to Prague, and a weekend trip to the Wachau Valley for hiking and wine tasting. Pretty much all students lived in apartments. I lived in the 5th district of the city with an easy 20 minute commute to school (Vienna’s public transportation system is so easy to master). Classes take place in an old palace in the city center between the Opera house and St. Stephen’s cathedral. For many classes I got to tour museums during class period and really learn hands-on about art, history, architecture and psychology. The central location of the school enabled me to explore the ins-and-outs of Vienna on a daily basis after or between classes. The IES program helps make things happen for its students. They make known events from the film festival at the Rathaus to how to join a gym or sports club team. They help create incredible experiences, such as providing discounted tickets to attend an infamous Vienna ball and dancing lessons to prepare. I was able to see the dress rehearsal for a world premiere at the State opera house. We were able to have a big Thanksgiving dinner in a traditional countryside tavern. And they helped people get involved with locals through setting up local German language buddies and helping students get internships. The program at IES Vienna creates a community and enables its students to explore and soak up every possible second of the most incredible semester imaginable. I would give anything to be back in Vienna right now.
What would you improve about this program?
This program could be improved by encouraging its students further to get involved with the locals in Vienna and around other parts of Austria. It does a great job helping students immerse into the culture, but not necessarily by interacting with locals. They help set up German language buddy pairs, but I wish I had realized the importance of putting myself out there with the people in Vienna while I was there.
Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would