Located on the Danube, Vienna, Austria is in the center of Europe and is a hub of immense culture with a huge emphasis on the arts. This city is rich with different cultures and through the architecture and different parts of the city, one can see all of these cultures come together. It is the only capital city in Europe that makes wine. Traveling throughout the country and Europe is extremely easy to manage because of its central location.
From the moment I stepped off of the plane, IES Abroad staff members were there to greet me and take the rest of the students to orientation. They answered any possible questions we had and made sure we knew as much about the city as possible before we lived in it. They immerse you in the Austrian culture by first taking you to the countryside outside of Vienna. We were well informed about the public transportation, how to get to school, the culture that we would face, and how to live in this brand new city. The staff is this helpful for the entire semester and it is wonderful. The staff also organized 4 different field trips including a Germany trip, a ski trip (in the Austrian Alps!, and 2 trips around Austria).
There are a variety of classes from music, psychology, business, art, and, of course, German. The instructors know that traveling is a priority for students. They make an effort to immerse you in the Vienna culture while learning by going on field trips. There are also internship opportunities that can further immerse you in Vienna culture and help you connect with locals. The teachers are from a variety of backgrounds. Some are alumni of the program which is always a great connection to have. The academics are not too rigorous. You learn, but you have a lot of fun while doing it.
The IES staff will help anyone that encounters culture shock and makes it a requirement at the beginning, middle, and end, to discuss each phase of culture shock we would be facing. The city is extremely clean and safe. The housing that IES provides is fantastic. There are homestays and apartments. Most people stay in apartments with other IES students and are scattered throughout the city. I loved that my friends were all in different locations. I could explore the city while going to everyone's house. Vienna has multiple districts and each one is unique and has it's own history.
If you are looking for a culturally rich city that is easy to navigate and become accustomed to, then this is the right program for you. Even if you are not too into classical music or opera, you can still appreciate the lifestyle that these people lead. You will want to travel and discover more of Europe, but you will also want to stay for a lot of weekends to discover Vienna. There are lots of parks and fun places to go to for night life or museums and things to explore during the day.
Any difficulties I may have encountered I overcame during my stay. They were mostly related to the culture being different and that is something that everyone can relate to while traveling. I would recommend this program to anyone that asked. I made wonderful memories.