2 months to go in Austria
Nicoline, one of our scholarship winners is on exchange in Austria. She sent us another update on how her exchange is going with only 2 months left before she returns home.
"Here comes email update number two! Since last writing, it feels like both an age and no time at all have passed by.
I cannot believe that my exchange is coming to an end! The last two months have been, so to say, the „flesh“ of my time here in Vienna, Austria, and now I definitely feel more at home here in Vienna than I did before. I think my relationship with my host family has improved quite a lot as we‘ve all figured out how this works and have done lots of new things together. My language improvement is pretty unbelievable- I can now speak with people without them realising I‘m an exchange student or asking me where I come from. As I make closer friends here, I‘ve been able to do on more exciting excursions with them and feel more supported. Additionally, I‘ve been lucky enough to catch up with some old friends also living in Europe with was great!
This year was my first cold christmas! Whilst I naturally missed my Australian family a bit, there‘s no way I couldn‘t be distracted by the beauty of Vienna in Christmas mode. As you walk through the city, there are “punsch“ stands on every corner, gorgeous christmas markets down almost every street and the most incredible lights hanging up above your head. My favourites make the street look like a ballroom: they are enormous, glowing chandeliers. My host family tried extra hard to make sure I felt included as the holiday season approached- we baked cookies together (Austrian and Australian), went on massive Christmas market explorations and visited all the extensive family. Nevertheless, I can‘t truthfully say that I really had christmas on exchange. Instead, I managed to split them in my head into ‚Christmas‘ and ‚Weihnachten‘. Swapping traditions between the two was a really lovely way to learn more about the culture and present the ‚Australian way‘.
Unlike back home where Christmas is the end of the school year, in Europe they are only halfway through. I had tests running all the way up to the week before Christmas! Whilst that obviously wasn‘t the highlight of the last two months, doing tests here did give me a little boost of confidence. Now I feel more ready for school back home- if I can do it on the other side of the world in a different language and still go alright, I can definitely do it back home (if I put my mind to it).
New Years was also an adventure for me. I‘ve fallen in love with the new Austrian „Silvester“ rituals and will surely be bringing some home with me! Here there is a parade through the streets all afternoon and night, setting you into the party mood. We all practised our Viennese Waltz in wait of the evening. Lucky charms were exchanged, fortunes were told and laughs were had. At midnight came the highlight:The blue danube waltz started playing on all radio stations and we waltzed on the rooftop terrace surrounded by fireworks until we got too cold and came inside to warm up with a midnight goulash!!
I am currently on my last day of holidays. I‘ve really enjoyed the free time to celebrate, relax and do lots of things with friends. I‘ve also had a bit of a chance to reflect on 2019. I can see already how much I’ve grown and developed, mostly because of exchange. I‘ve become more independent, more confident, more reliable and more considerate. As my last month stands ahead of me, I‘m excited to see what will come.
Wishing you a great start to 2020,