By: Amanda Phillips, Capilano University, winner of the Spring 2023 BC Study Abroad: Stories from Abroad Scholarship

Study Abroad Destination: Austria

Saying, “I’m studying abroad in Vienna” was one thing. Physically being abroad was another. Now, sitting back home in my childhood bedroom in Vancouver is unbelievable. No amount of planning and dreaming about Vienna would have prepared me for the experience I had. Going home was a strange bittersweet mix of emotions. Of course I was excited to see family and friends, but I was also surprisingly upset at the realization that my European adventures are over. Since returning home, I cannot fathom all that I experienced.

Austria is a country that shares eight land boarders allowing me to visit multiple countries with ease. I would take in as much of the local culture as possible, witnessing their traditions and tasting authentic foods at each destination. I developed an innate hunger to explore, experience, and see more of the world. I have met incredible people who have inspired me to continue learning and expand my own knowledge of the world.

Studying abroad has been life-altering. I didn’t notice the subtle changes that occurred while I was away. I have more confidence in new situations, look forward to meeting strangers, and better appreciate the beauty of Vancouver. Creating a life on my own in a foreign country made me understand myself better. I now know that I can have fun on a solo trip and kind of enjoy being alone. Even silly little things, such as being able to cook for myself. Going on exchange has both positively changed me and gave me the space to learn about myself.

At the end of my exchange, I took 10 additional days to visit Ireland. I loved the landscape, and couldn’t help but think it was similar to Vancouver. This was also the first time I had been in a country where the primary language was English since January. What surprised me was how foreign it felt to read English on street-signs and menus. By the end of my exchange, I felt ready to come home to Canada but also heartbroken to leave the life I built in Europe behind. I cannot say studying abroad was perfect, but it was filled with countless highs and a few lows that helped me grow and figure out what I want out of my life. I encourage with every fibre of my being – take the chance, go abroad, you won’t regret it.

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