Making the decision to go to Vienna was a highly personal one - I wanted to be immersed in a musical culture and environment that my school could not offer me, to be interacting with fellow musicians and improving my own skills daily.
This program met and exceeded my expectations, and also settled the worries I had about my living situation and adjustment to the new culture.
I lived in the 5th district with 5 other girls, and the program did a fantastic job with placement according to interests and personalities - I can say that I finally found the group of solid college girl friends I had been looking for ever since freshman year.
The adjustment process was definitely tougher than I imagined, but the kindness of the staff and the teachers on the program eased the process greatly. One day I was feeling very emotionally overwhelmed due to a family situation and my own personal struggles against the pressure to do well on the program and just left class. I emailed my teacher afterwards and he was nothing but understanding. I appreciated that student well being was a top priority for IES.
It was a struggle trying to balance rehearsal time, personal practice time, private lessons, and concert/opera attendance. I ended the semester more frazzled than I would have liked to be, but I still would take this overload of music training and experience to a less challenging experience. For me the highlight was my private lessons and the weekly accompaniment sessions that IES offered to music students. I gained invaluable experience from my accompanist and my teacher regarding expression and performance technique. Of course, being able to go to the Musikverein for 5 euros and listen to things like Mahler 1 and Schubert's 9th didn't hurt the whole experience either.
Overall, if you are a musician looking for an environment where you can have fun and thrive, you should definitely consider this program.