By Ty Malcolm
Well... this is it! Last blog post! In about a week, I'll be returning to the States. Via Berlin and Chicago, I'll make it to Kansas City after around 15 hours in-transit. YIKES! I'll spend a week at home with the family before jetting off to Washington for the spring semester. I'm not too sad about leaving, because I plan to return for graduate school. Since this experience was such a success for me, I thought it would be good to sum up my experience in Vienna for anyone who's reading this on the GW Study Abroad website, trying to get an idea of what to expect.
For me, Vienna was the perfect mix of study vs free time. In my coursework, I got to visit the HQ of Siemens, and study under the Head of Finance for an international oil company. I picked up a lot of new skills in financial statistics, I improved my German, and I made a ton of new friends. We visited the touristy stuff, the trendy stuff, the "my friend's friend can get us on the list" stuff - from the farthest metro stop East to the farthest metro stop West. The support system for exchange students at the Vienna University of Business and Economics is huge, and students with no German ability can still navigate university life just fine. You receive a lot of pre-departure information from both abroad offices. That said... there are some things that you find out by trial and error! Here were some of mine:
Some things are a simple YES or NO...
EBN Buddy: No
Orientation Program: Yes
Pre-Semester German Course: Yes
Austrian Bank Account: Yes
Whereas other things are a bit more specific...
...continue reading "Summing It All Up"
By Ty Malcolm
It's Sunday evening, and I'm back from our 4-day trip to Zell am See, a huge alpine tourist destination in central Austria. Nestled between Lake Zell and several 2000m peaks, this small town serves as a major base-camp for skiing and snowboarding, with taxis, shuttle buses, and cable-cars bringing visitors to their destinations.
Our hotel had a great location - around the corner from the bank, the grocery store, the bus stop, and a few bars.There was also sauna and a rental shop for ski equipment on-site, making our weekend very easy. Breakfast and dinner were included in the price of the trip, and the meals were served for 3 hours each, leaving us free to plan our days how we wanted. 3 people to a room kept things fun, and didn't feel cramped.
...continue reading "Ski Trip to Zell am See"
By Ty Malcolm
That's right -- I'm talking about the Austrian one! In the Spring of 2016, Austrians attempted to elect their new Bundespräsident, without success. Here's how it happened:
April 2016: First Round
- Social Democratic Party SPÖ - Rudolf Hundstorfer*
- Austrian People's Party ÖVP - Andreas Khol*
- Freedom Party FPÖ - Norbert Hofer
- Independent - Alexander Van der Bellen
- Independent - Irmgard Griss
- Independent - Richard Lugner
I've marked the first two candidates with *, because they were the members of the two major parties currently in government in Austria. It makes sense that if your party is already in government, there's a good chance that people will vote for you. But here's how the results broke down:
- Hofer (35%)
- Van der Bellen (21%)
- Griss (19%)
Neither of the * candidates made it past the first round! So already, the election was shaping up to be interesting. The Austrian people simply weren't interested in continuing with the same parties they had, leading to a historic upset. Since no candidate got a majority, they had to do a run-off vote between the Top 2.
...continue reading "The OTHER 2016 Presidential Election"
By Ty Malcolm
Last weekend, I made a quick jaunt to Berlin! It's a city filled with historical and cultural museums, and I managed to see quite a few while I was there. Here are some of my favorites:
The Museum of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik , or communist East Germany, is a colorful collection of objects and interactive games showing life on the other side of the wall. This museum certainly packs a lot into a small space! There are endless drawers, panels, and levers to pull, turn, and flip to learn more about the section you're in. They've even squeezed an old car and a full-size model of an East German apartment. While you're there, try to manage a communist economy, watch a propaganda film, or type a letter on an old East German typewriter. But don't renounce capitalism and fall in love with the glory of socialism so fast - as soon as you walk outside, the bustling shops along the Spree will remind you which side won. Descriptions in German and English.
The Stasi Museum is a good follow-up to the DDR Museum, because it's the museum for the East German secret police (Staatssicherheit), located in their HQ building located far from the city center. I almost walked past the museum, because its old socialist architecture matched most of the buildings in the area. A warning: this museum won't help your love for the DDR. It details the overarching power of the Stasi - the informants, the home break-ins, the arrests, the executions. The exhibitions are even more interesting because many of the rooms in the building are largely unchanged from when they were in use. Although it is the farthest-removed museum on the list, I still think it's worth seeing! Descriptions in German and English.
...continue reading "Must-See Museums in Berlin"
By Ty Malcolm
When people ask me my favorite period in history, I usually choose the interwar years, around 1920-1930. This time period brought about a radical shift in a wide range of fields - politics, economics, art, music, literature. In European capitals, artists and writers hopped between endless bars and cafés, exchanging ideas and styles they would use to describe and shape their age.
Paris attracted American expats from the "Lost Generation," like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, and Earnest Hemingway. Hemingway would go on to write A Moveable Feast about this period in his life, detailing his interactions with the Well-Knowns and Unknowns of 1920s Paris. Armed with my copy of Ein Fest fürs Leben (the German-language title for A Moveable Feast), I set out for my second visit to Paris. No longer tied to the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, I could shape the trip into whatever I wanted!
While Hemingway and his family would have needed an entire day on the train to reach Vienna, for me flying was the clear choice. My preference for morning flights (and my financial limitations) conspired to leave me with a 6AM flight, arriving in Paris just after 8AM. The neighborhood of my hotel, located just outside the Luxembourg Gardens, was a very popular area during this time period. It was really interesting to walk down streets and boulevards that I had already read about. I visited the Institute of the Arab World, a multi-level museum off the beaten path. The art was beautiful... I just wish I spoke French so I could read the descriptions!
...continue reading "A Historical Walk Through Paris"
By Ty Malcolm
"Oh, you're going abroad in the fall! So... you're going to miss the election?"
Last spring, when I got confirmation that I would be going to Vienna through FOFAC, this was a response I kept getting. Not an unusual question to receive from GW students - we live blocks from the White House, we walk the monuments, we work on the Hill. For students as politically active as those at GW, an election year is special. I didn't have really have an answer ready.
"Well...yeah, I guess?"
My original entry point for the EU was actually Germany, where I had a short layover before Vienna. The expandable hallway from the plane to the airport terminal had a TV, and I don't think I will ever forget: the first thing I saw upon entering Europe for my semester abroad was a scowling Donald Trump on a flatscreen TV. This was just the beginning of my expat American election experience, and with the Europeans' fascination for it.
...continue reading "My Election Experience Abroad"
By Ty Malcolm
When you ask people for the business capital of the world, several answers are very popular: New York, London, maybe Tokyo... Vienna is not usually on the list. But there are several large multinational corporations that (despite less-than-ideal tax conditions) call Austria home. One of the largest is an international oil and gas company named OMV. In one way or another, OMV sponsors almost everything in Vienna - even the famous Vienna Philharmonic. (Thanks to OMV, opera-enthusiasts can stream performances live.) OMV also has several literature collections, lecture halls, and workrooms on our campus. One of my courses, International Energy Strategies, is taught by a professor working in the financial office of OMV. Because of this tight connection with Vienna and the University of Economics, I thought it was worth giving an overview of the company, and the course they offer on campus.
...continue reading "Only at WU: An Energy Education"
By Ty Malcolm
No traveling this weekend! I have to stay in town and work on a midterm presentation. Hoping to head to Paris in 2 weeks, then Berlin the weekend after! In the meantime... Here are some of the apps and websites I've found most useful while abroad:
This is the app that the Viennese love to hate! It's the dedicated app for Vienna's U-Bahn (subway) and Straßenbahn (tram) systems. (Google Maps won't cut it here in Vienna!) The tram system is where it is especially useful - while many people know the subway by heart, few take the time to remember the tram routes criss-crossing the city. Often, you can accomplish with one tram the same journey that might take 2 or 3 different subway transfers. It has all the timetables integrated, so you'll rarely spend time waiting on a train. My only complaint is that it's not the easiest app to use as a novice. If you like to walk, or if you know your destination, don't use it... but if you're going someplace new, it's worth a look to see if a tram will cut your commute in half.
Enough. No more trying to text someone with your new Austrian number. "Stop resisting!" and go download WhatsApp. It's better than iMessage, it's better than Facebook Messenger. Seriously, I'm dreading the thought of going back to the United States and someone texting me... YIKES. Drake uses WhatsApp when he's abroad, be like Drake. Your UK tings will appreciate it.
...continue reading "Life Pro-Tip: Download the App"
By Ty Malcolm
With its central location in Europe, the city of Vienna serves as a gateway to Eastern Europe, a region which is becoming more and more popular for tourists on holiday. Countries like Slovakia, Croatia, and Hungary are all within easy reach from Vienna, and they offer beautiful views for lower prices than Western Europe. My friends and I signed up for the EBN trip to Budapest, in order to experience more of the East for ourselves!
...continue reading "Trip to Budapest"
By Ty Malcolm
Unlike some cities (Paris, I'm looking at you!) that have a major architectural style, Vienna is much more varied. Maybe it's less pretty, maybe it's more navigable, that's for everyone to decide for themselves. While I can't include everything, Vienna has several standout architectural pieces that I thought would be good, to show the variety of architecture in the city:
1. Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien (University of Economics)
This is where I go!! It has such beautiful architecture, it really looks like each building is a modern art museum. The library, or "LC," was designed by Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi-born British architect who also designed opera houses in China and Olympic stadiums in the United Kingdom. The building emphasizes natural light, accessibility for the disabled, and connectivity for modern lectures and working groups. Although she recently passed away last spring, her creations continue to win awards around the world.
...continue reading "Cool Buildings around Vienna"