The last time I was in Vienna I was wrangling two enormous suitcases and a duffel through Mariahilferstrasse. While trying to get on and off the U-Bahn, my bags got stuck in the gap between the subway and the platform twice. Neither of those times did anyone help me. I remember feeling so incredibly frustrated with the people around me (Austrians like most Europeans subscribe to the belief that no one should EVER make eye contact on the subway) I was angry with myself for bringing so much stuff, but most of all I was angry with this city that would not let me leave without a fight. My last trip through Vienna was a great metaphor for what my study abroad program had been. Annoying, beautiful, sweaty, and a feeling that swiveled between wanting to cry and wanting to eat a warm croissant. I left this city with the enthusiasm of someone who knew they would never return, and yet…here I am.
Somehow I’ve managed to find myself back in Vienna, this time as a Fulbright grantee. When I had initially applied for the Fulbright, my friends didn’t understand why I wanted to return. They had, after all, been the ones who were forced to listen to my endless complaints about my study abroad experience. I tried explaining that my complaints were never about the city itself, only about the way I was introduced to it. This city that had perplexed me with its endless museums and flea markets, had managed to lure me back. Recently while I was organizing my files, I came across journal entries from my first time in Vienna. On May 24th, 2014 I wrote, “this city makes me feel small, and I am just so tired”. I don’t know what this year will bring but I do know that I am back in Vienna not despite my previous experience, but because of it.