1. Everyone in Europe speaks English
Every night in the international dorm I speak with people from Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, South Korea, and Portugal. The thing that unites us all is that we all speak English! They grow up at a young age learning English as their primary second language. In addition, despite living in a German speaking country for the next 5 months, hardly any of us speaks German. So if you don’t speak another language well, just know you can still communicate with others through English.
2. Traveling anxiety is very real
I don’t know if everyone experiences this, but I struggled making it to Austria. I had to fly from St. Louis to Chicago and then to Vienna. From the Vienna airport I had to take a train to the main train station. From there I had a four hour train ride to Klagenfurt, the city I now call home. Even though I am an experienced traveler and had no problem navigating my way through these cities, it was the first time that I realized that I was truly alone. I knew no one at my school, or anyone in the country. It was terrifying to say the least. Just know that if you experience this, you are not alone in this feeling and you have an amazing adventure ahead of you!
3. JET LAG
The first few days that I have been here, my sleep schedule has been very wrong. Some nights I can’t fall asleep until 4 am. Waking up at 9 am is a struggle because my body still feels like it is back in America which would be 2 am. I have a 7 hour time difference and that took me a week to get used to. Wherever you end up in the world, try your hardest to go to bed at a normal time in that time zone. It will make the jet lag process a lot less painful.
4. Everything is cheaper
Food, drinks, bedding, kitchen supplies; you name it, I promise you that it is cheaper. While the Euro is more expensive than the USD, I am able to buy a phone plan that lasts for a couple of months for only 20 euros. McDonald’s’ most expensive meal is four euros in Austria compared to the eight or nine USD back home.
5. The two things I miss the most are my car and Walmart
The public transportation in Europe is infinitely better than the United States, however, we still have to walk everywhere or bike if it is less than a mile walk. This means I have to carry all of my groceries and other items in a reusable bag all the way across the town. It can be very heavy but it is my only option since I don’t have a car. In addition, the markets and stores are a lot smaller here which means I have to go to four different stores to get my kitchen supplies, cosmetics, food, and bedding. If only we had a Walmart here and I could get everything all in one place.