Erika is a senior studying Psychology at Indiana University. Some of her favorite things include going places she has never been and doing things she has never done.
Why did you choose this program?
Skimming through programs that my school had to offer, I made a list of what I was looking for.
I had a few friends in countries throughout the world, so I wanted to try and travel to one of those countries. I wanted to find a psychology program with opportunities for learning as well as leisure since it was my first time traveling out of the country. And finally, I wanted to study abroad during the summer term. Other than that, I was pretty wide open.
After searching through programs, I found the IES Abroad Summer Psychology Program in Vienna, Austria. This program checked all the boxes, so I filled out an application!
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
Indiana University and IES Abroad were extremely helpful in the entire process. The only things I was responsible for were my flight and transportation from the airport to the IES Abroad Center.
They placed me for housing, helped me schedule my classes, and assisted in all pre-departure steps.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I would say create some sort of budget and when you do, remember to factor in some costs that you wouldn't necessarily consider.
For example, I wasn't completely sure how much public transportation would cost, so I under-budgeted that. I also forgot to factor in transportation to and from the airport because that is separate from public transportation.
I would say do your research beforehand to get a better idea of how much these things will cost.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
I had class Monday - Thursday. I would start out my day in a two and a half hour German language class. After that, I had about at 30-minute break for lunch, so I would go to a cafe or restaurant close to the IES Abroad Center.
After lunch, I had a psychology class. This class would consist of either a lecture or a field trip to a local clinic. After this class, I had the rest of the afternoon to myself. With my time I would usually check out a local restaurant, go to a museum, or spend hours sitting at a coffee shop or park, enjoying living the life of an Austrian.
Friday - Sunday we were free to do anything we wanted. Some weekends I traveled to other countries for the entire weekend, but some weekends I would take a day trip out of Austria and spend the rest of the time exploring Vienna. There were all kinds of festivals and events happening during my time in Vienna, so I tried to make the most of that.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I had a couple of fears going into my time abroad.
First of all, I had never flown internationally or on my own. That was something that was difficult for me, especially because I had to read signs that were not necessarily going to be in English, so that worried me. Speaking of English, English is the only language I speak and I was traveling to a country where the native language was German. That was extremely nerve-wracking as well.
I overcame these fears by facing them head-on. I was not going to let such trivial things take away from my experiences, so I just took challenges as they came.
Upon arrival at the airport, I realized I did not need to read the signs because there were pictures, plus most people in Austria spoke English and were willing to help me with my German. That definitely helped calm the nerves and I was much better after that.
What are three of the most important things to pack?
First, pack your student ID! A lot of theaters, museums, and other places give you HUGE student discounts. This saved me a ton of money during my time abroad.
Another important thing to pack is multiple converters for the outlets. I packed one and thought I was extremely prepared until my phone and laptop were both dead and I needed to dry my hair. Luckily my roommates shared, but it might be worth it to pack a couple extra.
Finally, a journal. I journaled every night and to this day I like to pick random journal entries to read over. Even if it is a super short list of the things you did that day, you'll want to remember these experiences for the rest of your life and what better way to do that than to journal about it!
Bonus tip! Pack a few books. They will keep you busy on the plane, but also, Europe is a very relaxed place. People sit at coffee shops and in parks for hours. I spent one Friday laying on the grass in a park for seven hours, just reading and people watching. Try to take some time to live as the Europeans do.