Three years ago at this very moment I was in a night train being schlepped from everything I was comfortable with in the German speaking world in Berlin to a strange, new place where “people spoke funny” called Vienna.
I’ll never forget the moment that Gisela, our program director and my college advisor, ran up to all of us at Westbahnhof and gave us hugs upon our arrival. She led the group, half asleep and rather groggy, up the elevator at Herrengasse U-Bahn station and around the corner for what Alice and I still refer to as “the great reveal”. Before us, in all its glory, stood Heldenplatz, Vienna’s most famous square. The statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy on his horse stood triumphantly in front of the Neue Burg. A 360 revealed that we were flanked by the Burg Theater, the Rathaus (City Hall), Austrian Parlament, and both the Art History and Natural History museums. In comparison to Berlin, the entire scene seemed to declare that we were now in a place where old ways lingered, where tradition held fast, and where part of an older order would never die.
And three years later, there’s nowhere I’d rather be.