Sarah studied in Austria on the IES: Vienna Program
What specific factors influenced your decision to go abroad?
There was a family friend who went abroad when she was at Penn State, and her stories of easy and affordable travel inspired me. Travel has always been an important part of my life, and studying abroad is one of the easiest ways to be exposed to a lot of different cultures. I knew since high school that I wanted to live in a foreign country for a period of time, and the most realistic way of achieving that goal is to live somewhere as a student.
If you could go abroad again, what would you do differently?
If I could do abroad differently, I would have taken more advantage of my free museum pass that I had with my art classes. I also would not have waited as long as I did to get close to the faculty at IES Vienna. They are all amazing and kind people, and I wish I would have had the chance to become friends with them sooner.
What advice would you give to outbound study abroad students to help them make the most out of their study abroad experiences?
Do not be afraid to talk to other students. Do not be afraid to strike conversation about literally anything. Everyone is in the same boat as you- nobody knows quite what to expect and are probably just as intimidated and as afraid as you are. You will meet amazing people with so many interests and values in common. Want to go to Spain for a weekend? Tell your friends! Invite them! Don’t be afraid to take control in planning weekend trips and inviting people along. Don’t be afraid of people telling you no to travel or to go somewhere in your host city after class, most people will say yes because they also want to make the most of their time abroad.