It’s been a week since I arrived in Vienna for a semester to study at the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU). Before I arrived in Vienna though, I was most worried about making friends with an entirely new group of people. I had back-up plans for other things: cooking failed? Go out and buy something. Got home sick? FaceTime. Got lost on the streets? Ask someone. There didn’t seem a viable alternative to not making friends, other than “independence” (not to be confused with “loneliness”).
My fears were short-lived, and of course, totally unwarranted. I won’t lie – I had some help. My buddy picked me up from the airport, and after a few days of settling in, I contacted a friend who is also studying in Vienna. And although I only knew two people in Vienna, it doesn’t matter. Because those people know people who know people.
The fantastic thing about exchange is that everybody is in the same boat as you. Everybody is flustered at the thought of buying things in German (a language most exchange students can barely speak), everybody is running around sorting out paperwork (conveniently all in German) and struggling through getting groceries (you don’t realise how much you value pictures until it’s not English). You are not alone. It’s actually super easy to make friends – and often, the best friendships come from the most serendipitous circumstances.
Within my first week I’ve swum in the Danube, gone on a rollercoaster, explored a palace and cathedrals, met people from Bulgaria to Brisbane to North America, been to the closing night of the Vienna Film Festival, explored Rathaus (the town hall), and the list continues.
I’ve only just scratched the surface and I can’t wait to see what the next 23 weeks hold in store!