Every spring quarter, Germanics is sending a group of students to Vienna to learn and improve their German, study Austrian history, culture, and art, and appreciate the Viennese way of life.
This year’s group was particularly large (17 students) and, at the same time, particularly well functioning. They all live in a private hostel near the main train station, attend intensive language courses at their individual level of proficiency at a language school every morning, and meet with a local instructor and a UW faculty member who leads the group abroad in the afternoons.
The language school, the Internationales Kulturinstitut (IKI), just celebrated its 35th birthday. You can explore what they have to offer by surfing their website here:
IKI is a great partner for our program as they are very experienced, offer diverse language learning experienced for students from all kinds of backgrounds including recent migrants from war-torn regions who came to Vienna to study and find peace and security, and are located in the heart of Vienna, just across from the Opera.
Our local instructor, Dr. Forst-Battaglia, is absolutely wonderful. She is a trained art historian who works for the local art museum (the Kunsthistorisches Museum) where she leads tours through their stunning collection. Dr. Forst-Battaglia takes the group to the most important historical sites in Vienna ranging from museums to churches and memorial sites providing fantastic information for the students in her lively lectures interpreting the sites.
During the month of May, a UW faculty is joining the group for an additional course on Austrian culture and I was privileged to be this year’s group leader.
This year’s topics ranged from a visit to the Freud Museum, a discussion of Schiele’s paintings in the Leopoldmuseum, a visit to the movies to watch “The Third Man” followed by a trip to the famous Riesenrad, a visit to the Wittgensteinhaus and the Hundertwasserhaus, a guided walk through Vienna’s waterways along the Wienfluß, and a visit to an experimental performance that was wart of the art and culture Vienna Festival, the Wiener Festwochen, that takes place during May and June every year. Students keep a journal and work on critical and creative projects in teams.
For their final projects, the students worked in teams researching aspects of their experiences in Vienna and surroundings including public art in the metro stations, modern coffee houses, Viennese street food, and the wine varietals of the region.
The final weekend was spent in Salzburg where the group explored the Mozart cult, saw the “Magic Flute” in the famous Marionette Theater that was featured in “The Sound of Music,” visited famous sites such as the cathedral and the fortress, and cruised the river on a boat.
A picture gallery and a few student testimonials give a sense of what this program is all about and how transformative it can be for our students. Not only do they return to Seattle with a boost in their ability to speak German, they also grow as individuals in so many ways including emotional and intellectual maturity, the ability to work in teams, and a much greater sense of what the world has to offer if you keep an open mind and are ready to learn from others.
For more pictures and student projects, check our social media and departmental web page.
And here are some student testimonials:
Aaron Mau (electrical engineering major): “This program has been a marvelous opportunity to dip my feet into European art, culture, and nature. With a reasonable balance between schoolwork and free time, I've found myself with the freedom to explore and experiment on my own accord; all the while immersing myself into the German language as I interact with others and my surroundings.”
Kendall Yamamoto (Foster School of Business): “Spring in Vienna has surely been one of, if not, the best experience I've had the opportunity to enjoy, during my time at UW. There's so much offered. We had an incredible space to learn German with an amazing school. Vienna has so much to offer in terms of history, music, and culture overall. A perfect location to explore either Vienna, Austria, or nearby countries. We were provided with valuable lessons of the culture and history of Vienna's many facets. My time in Vienna has been comprehensive, filled with variety, structured, along with independent time for self discovery. A truly perfect mix. Couldn't recommend this study abroad anymore highly. This will forever be a moment in my life I cherish, and know I learned and gained so much from. Thank you to all who made it possible and made it what it was.”