How do I begin to explain how impactful this experience of a lifetime was?! It's changed so many parts of my life that I didn't expect it to, and it amazes me all the time. Now back in Vancouver, I am so much more appreciative of all the unbelievable things that I have here. The lifelong friends, amazing family, fantastic views, and not to mention the absolutely perfect drinking water. A lot of the little things seem to be the most shocking, in terms of what I didn't appreciate to it's full glory before I left, such as drinking perfect water from the tap. Going into a grocery store and not being herded through it like a maze of food - priceless. Going to school and the lack of existence of smoking rooms - refreshing. The lack of smoke everywhere, to be frank - even more refreshing. There are quite a few things I miss like the amazing transit system that can get you anywhere you want to go whenever you want to go (especially when the skytrain has been breaking down and the compass system has still not come to use). I find myself craving a lot of products that just don't exist in Canada and being saddened by the amount of tempting treats that are here that just aren't as "in your face" in Austria. If you want a treat, you go specifically to that aisle, whereas in North America it seems like they are constantly trying to shove it down your throat.
Like I've mentioned, this experience changed so many aspects of myself. I feel so much more confident than when I left having known all the amazing things I conquered on my own. Traveling alone was a huge confidence boost as you truly see how well you can do on your own and how tall you can stand as an individual. There were so many times along this journey where I stopped and thought about how proud I was of myself. I had a lot of time for reflection and truly feel as if I have a greater love for myself as well as respect for everything that I have been able to achieve in my 20 years. This experience has definitely shown me that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to and will help me in the future with keeping motivated. I truly find it impossible to summarize all this experience meant to me, especially now being back in Vancouver where it feels like I never left. But I will always hold this experience in a special place in my heart, one that I will encourage everyone to experience. Travel is truly the best growing experience that you can be involved in and I'm so glad I had this past 6 months full of it!
Honestly! Just go! Forget about your real life for awhile and experience something out of your comfort zone! Your life will be there when you get back, practically exactly the same as when you left it. #datruth
Read Katy's full report(.pdf) on her semester abroad at FHWien University of Applied Sciences in Vienna, Austria.