High School - Austria, High School Abroad

My First Impressions of Vienna

by Sarah Gourevitch, High School Abroad Participant in Austria

I’ve had a great first two weeks in Vienna… Here are thoughts on my first impressions of my life in Austria while I study abroad.

Host family and home:

My host family is wonderful. I live with Evelyn, my host mom, and Tim, my host brother, but I’ve also met most of the rest of the family: Evelyn’s partner, Eva, one of Evelyn’s sisters, Margite, both of Evelyn’s parents, and my host sister, Teresa. Everyone has been so warm and welcoming, and I feel very at home. We live in a beautiful old flat in Vienna. My room is decorated with many paintings and plants (and my music scattered over a table!).

Here are my host moms and me ice skating:

2013-02-09 15.30.53bedroom host moms


I began school the day after I arrived (it was nice to jump right into the swing of things!), but we have this week off for the semester break. School is bit different than in the USA– I’m with one group of students for every class. We have a home-base classroom of sorts, where we can leave our stuff and where most of our classes are taught. Teachers, instead of students, move from class to class. I take 10 classes, which don’t meet every day. On Mondays, I start at 10am 🙂 The school day usually ends at 1 or 2pm, earlier than the rest of the schools in Vienna, to make time for students’ music.

Many of my classmates have been very welcoming and excited– a few of them translate teachers for me, so I can get the gist of the class, which is very appreciated!

I auditioned into the school orchestra, which I’m really excited about joining next week! We’re playing Mozart’s Requiem and Schubert’s 7th symphony. I had my first bass lesson this week, which went well. I’m also playing cello in a trio with one of my classmates. Music in Vienna has yet to disappoint.


The food’s been wonderful! Just a few of the dishes I’ve had so far…

2013-02-07 16.31.03

–      Stefaniebraten: a sort of meatloaf with and egg in the middle, served with yummy gravy and potatoes

–       Kaiserschmarren: Similar to pancake batter, but cooked in a deeper pan, and scrambled; served with a plum sauce

–       Grießnockerlsuppe: Just like matzo ball soup!

–       Germknödel (Bohemian): Like a giant, very thick dumpling with plum filling and sugar and  ground poppy seeds on top

–       Schnitzel: Thin pieces of chicken (or other meat) dipped in egg and spices, floured and breaded and cooked in oil. Yum.

–       Maroni: Maroni is the German word for chestnut, but also is the name of this yummy chocolate covered chestnut puree

–       Paprikahuhn (Hungarian): Pepper and pieces of chicken and lots of spices all mixed together

…And lots of coffee, too, of course! There’s a vending machine at school with ten or so different types of coffees and hot chocolates and teas for only 50 cents or a euro 😀


I’ve explored the city a bit since I’ve arrived, and am starting to figure out how to get around on my own—the public transportation is really great (and clean!). Since I’ve arrived, I’ve…

2013-02-09 15.20.06 2013-02-18 14.45.55 295080_4846056000565_925070967_n 602969_4846054200520_719433787_n

–       Visited the Albertina art gallery for a Max Ernst exhibition with Eva

–       Attended “Fool of Love” at the Burgstheater, which put Shakespeare sonnets to song. There was also a puppet.

–       Gone inside Stephansplatz Cathedral

–       Visited Schönbrunn palace with my host-grandmother

–       Taken a tour of the Ringstrasse, the perimeter of the 1st district

–       Watched the Opernball on TV. The Opernnall the biggest ball of the year, taking place in the Opera House


I’m starting to understand more bits and pieces of conversation, I think! I write down words I hear, and usually have a dictionary with me, so that’s helped as well. I’ll start German classes next week, though! My new favorite word is “Ohrwurm”, which directly translates to “ear worm” but means a catchy song, or one that’s stuck in your head, as in “Ich habe ein Ohrwurm” (I have an ear worm) or “Das ist ein Ohrwurm” (That is an ear worm). It’s also surprisingly difficult to pronounce, but I’m working on it! J

Bis Später!

About Greenheart Travel

CCI Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We achieve this by partnering with organizations and governments overseas that empower their local communities through experiential learning and practical development. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.


2 thoughts on “My First Impressions of Vienna

  1. YOU’RE FANTABULOUS, lovin this blog girl ❤

    Posted by Anastasia | February 21, 2013, 5:43 pm
  2. Sarah, I love your blog…look forward to more…you are so wonderful to immerse yourself so completely in the beautiful culture…the best way to make the most of everything. Love to you, Mimi

    Posted by Betty Van Buren | February 20, 2013, 7:30 pm

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