In seven hours I will be getting into my taxi to take me to the Vienna Airport to begin my return journey to the States.  It wouldn’t be accurate to say that the last four months has gone by strikingly quickly- it definitely feels like I’ve been in Vienna for quite some time and that it has truly become one of my many homes.  Likewise, it feels like the initial orientation in Mariazell, the IES 10 day trip, and my gallivanting off to Oktoberfest all took places ages ago.  I’ve grow so much since then, both personally and in world perspective.

But at the same time, it’s hard to say goodbye to a place that I have fallen in love with.  One of the hardest things for me, surprisingly, is actually saying goodbye to my favorite buildings in Vienna.  Partly from my Art and Architecture class, and partly from simply living here, I’ve grown attached personally to buildings like Stephansdom, the Staatsoper, the Karlskirche, the Belvedere etc.  All of Vienna’s most iconic buildings, as well as the ones that mean something personally to me. Even my overcrowded apartment and my roommates, I will miss.

Something else that I honestly hadn’t anticipated was making many truly great friends here.  Coming to Vienna, I anticipated that the music scene would be phenomenal- which it has been- but I wasn’t sure what kind of people I would meet here.  It’s a kind of goodbye that’s rather different than many goodbyes I have had to say in the past.  Saying goodbye to college friends at the end of a school year isn’t really saying goodbye forever, just for 3 months or so.  It’s likely, however, that I am saying goodbye to many people here possibly forever: My German professor, Frau Summesberger, the IES faculty, many Austrians I have met, and some of the students who have come from all across America to study here in Vienna for the semester.  I’m proud, however, to say that I believe I have made many friends here that I think will be life-long friends.  I look forward to seeing them again State-side.

One of the former IES presidents of Vienna told students that, “The first half or institutional part of your study abroad experience ends as soon as you finish finals.  The ‘second half’ of the experience is going home.  This is what helps start putting the experience you have had abroad into perspective.”

I’m anticipating for myself that the re-entry into America is not going to be as easy as it was coming to Austria four months ago.  I’m not looking forward to the reverse culture-shock.  However, it will be interesting to see how this experience has affected me once I’m away from Vienna.  It’s hard to anticipate what exactly I will be feeling 18 hours from now.  I’m confident that the personal growth I have felt I have made as a person will not diminish once I arrive in the states, however.

Here is my final goodbye to Wien, for now.  I know I will return, it would be impossible not to.  Although when exactly life will take me back to this city is uncertain at the moment.  All I can hope for is that it is sooner than later.  Ich liebe dich Wien, und Auf Wiedersehn…!