Hej! I’m back with another blog post and this time I’m covering travel week one, which was actually two weeks ago now. It was our first major break from DIS and gave around half of the students a chance to get away from classes, or Sweden altogether, and that’s what I did!
I was lucky enough to be visited by my girlfriend before travel week, and that meant an opportunity to explore a new European city- we chose Vienna, hoping to catch a little more warmth inland. It was really nice to escape Stockholm (still home!) for just a few days and indulge in a whole new culture, if one that I had been familiar with somewhat through my study of German. Many students will tell you that part of the experience of studying abroad is visiting not just your new country of study but also, especially in Europe, trekking all over the continent. Coming abroad from abroad, it was never my priority as much but I was excited to chalk off another Schengen country while my passport still allowed easy travel (Brexit, here’s looking at you).
I found Vienna very different to Stockholm, both architecturally and culturally. Set around the famous Ringstraße, the city definitely has more of a center hub feeling that Sweden’s capital, although that meant we never really explored far from that center. Nonetheless, in just a few short days we crammed in a whole lot of experiences. No trip to the City of Music would be complete without an orchestra, so we spent our first night listening to Mozart and Strauss live, enjoying accompanying local ballet and opera performers near the city center. Though not much of a classical fan, I really enjoyed basking in the Viennese musical culture.
On the next, remarkably warm Saturday we had plenty of time for sightseeing, spending lunch at the Naschmarkt and enjoying various Viennese cuisines, from Wiener schnitzel to Sacher torte. The city offered a break from Sweden’s more seafood dominated food circuit, and there was plenty of choice at the traditional marketplace. We decided to spend the cooling evening in the Rathauspark, where an incredible, multi-storey ice skating rink had been set up before the Austrian government building and Vienna town hall. It was the perfect way to draw the trip towards its conclusion, even though my ice skating abilities were seriously dubious! We flew in the afternoon on Sunday, but enjoyed the early part of the day for more sightseeing, stopping by the famous Spanische Hofreitschule en route.
All in all, the weekend- and whole week- was a great success. Sharing the sights of Stockholm with my girlfriend, as well as Vienna (and Copenhagen, too!) gave me a chance to learn the city better myself, and I confirmed that in just a short two months here, I already feel comfortable enough in Stockholm to be the tour guide. Monday signalled a return to classes, but in just a week I’ll be heading to Berlin for my long study tour with European Security Dilemmas– so stayed tuned for that!
New place, new flag! And this time, a break from the blue and yellow ever present on Swedish flags- sorry, Sweden. Vienna’s flag turns out to be a little boring and almost identical to Monaco’s, so I thought I’d feature the state flag of Austria instead. With the classic red and white triband pattern, this flag features the coat of arms, consisting of a single black eagle, and has been in use since 1919.