What Students Have to Say About the Maymester in Vienna
Ady Wetegrove (History)
With eyes aglow, I dove into Vienna hoping to gain a better understanding of the construction of historical memory, and of the city itself. That definitely happened in my course with Dr. Hoelscher, but something else occurred as well. My own personal and intellectual evolution progressed rapidly and was, in part, an unexpectedly rewarding product of my four-week stay at 18 Dürergasse—my apartment right in the middle of the city. Experiencing a city like Vienna from within, as an inhabitant of the city, I began to flirt with an idea that cannot be articulated from an external perspective. Professor Hoelscher’s Maymester in Vienna is unlike any other course I have taken. Through class discussions on the lawns of Vienna’s public green spaces, I re-conceptualized my idea of being a student, my view of the world, and my place in it. Aside from the gorgeous palace where we had daily German classes, the walls of the classroom dissolve, and the city itself becomes a stage in which the intellectual dialogue unfolds. At some point in the journey, the Vienna course ceases to be merely a class, and becomes a lifestyle. It provides a pattern for thinking which transcends your stay in the city, and a catalyst to get lost in something multifaceted and dynamic.
Kylie Bishop (American Studies)
From insightful and thought-provoking class discussions to wandering aimlessly around a beautiful city, the Vienna Maymester was one of the best experiences of my life. Never have I wanted to challenge myself as much I did on this eye-opening journey in Vienna. The city of Vienna has so much to offer and I will never forget the experiences I had there. The things I learned, the sights I saw and the friends I made will stay me forever. I highly recommend studying abroad, especially in Vienna with Dr. Hoelscher.
Ritika Gopal (Plan II Honor’s Program)
There are few things I love more than travelling: the sights, the smells, the notion of being in a perpetual state of transit; frontiers seem bigger, people seem deeper, and dreams seem closer. In the summer of 2011, I was enrolled in the course, Vienna: Memory and the City, and was fortunate enough to spend a month in Vienna, Austria – a city brimming with culture and a potent past. The course was primarily centered on exploring the many ways in which historical memory has sculpted the unique urban life of current Vienna. Aside from the awe-inspired sites, the gelato, the castles, the priceless friendships, and pure unmitigated authenticity, this class helped me realize something of momentous importance: history and its constructions of memory cannot be perceived as black and white, but rather as several shades of gray, assessed and reframed over and over again, so that one can truly understand a culture and its people. One of the most interesting aspects of this class was learning that the way memory is tailored and manipulated can be quite telling of a city’s urban attitude, its history, its collective emotions, leanings, etc. I gained insight that I could never have dreamt of and I fell in love with a city that now holds a nestled place in my heart, a city that has become a second home to me.
Joseph Lam (Urban Studies)
My time spent in Vienna with my fellow Maymester classmates and Dr. Hoelscher is truly unforgettable and unsurpassable. If there is one thing that I would most advocate to other college students, it is to study abroad, especially through "Memory and the City". Never have I become so quickly acclimated to a foreign city that I would be able to call it home within a few weeks. With the advice of Dr. Hoelscher, we acclimated to the city in no time. The course itself was phenomenal; each lecture, place, and memory site was specifically hand picked by Dr. Hoelscher to comprehensively teach us about the city of Vienna and the collective cultural memory of its inhabitants. There couldn't have been a better living arrangement for the students to foster life-long friendships as well as to promote urban exploration individually and together. Every single one of the excursions, ranging from nature trips to sites of urban developments, was unbelievably interesting. As a major metropolitan of Europe, Vienna was the perfect place for me to expand my Urban Studies knowledge. Being able to visit a physical site strongly reinforces the material that we learn through our readings and lectures both in Vienna and in Austin. From my one month abroad in Vienna, I feel as though I've exponentially developed in character as an aspiring scholar as well as a worldly person.
Vienna Morini (Philosophy)
I have always been asked if I had ever been to the city with which I share a name; I can finally say that I have and am ecstatic to do so. Both this Austrian city and this program's amazing professor, Dr. Hoelscher, were incredibly welcoming and with guest lecturers, field trips to a variety of places, and visits to many museums this program felt all encompassing and complete. The classical topics of history, art, government, and music, as well as less classical topics like urban development contributed to the depth and breadth of this course. The people, place, and experience together are something I wouldn't trade for any other.
Kristin Fields (UTeach Liberal Arts, Government)
Studying abroad in Vienna, Austria, this past summer was by far one of the most memorable experiences of my college career. I applied to the program not knowing a single person and left Vienna after making 17 unforgettable friendships that I continue to cherish everyday. Upon leaving for Austria, I was rather hesitant about what would lie ahead for me. This was my first time traveling overseas and I was going to a foreign country not knowing anyone. One thing I found especially rewarding while studying abroad was that I developed a new sense of independence. By the end of the course, I was riding the U Bahn (subway) alone to class, stopping every afternoon at my favorite coffee shop to drink my mélange (Austrian coffee), and ordering gelato in German. I think one of the greatest aspects about this course was how close our class became in the span of just four weeks. The time I spent in Vienna this past summer was more than just a study abroad course; it was truly a life-changing experience.
Christine Manthuruthil (Plan II Honors Program, Biology Premed)
The study of cultural memory provides a crucial link between bygone eras and life as we know it, and nowhere does this hold more true than Vienna. From Mozart to Freud, from the revolutionary swell of the Napoleonic Wars to the horrors of the Holocaust, the city has borne witness to ideas and events that have defined much of the world as it is today. The fingerprints of the past—as embodied in buildings and monuments, artwork and story, tradition and customs—continue to shape, and be shaped by the peoples that claim a historical narrative as their own. The Maymester takes you on a whirlwind tour of a city steeped in the past, asking that you order information form a variety of media into a cohesive understanding of a modern city and grasp the complexities o social integration: the ways in which individual associations give rise to institutions that then act upon them, the divides that separate individual and social realities, perceptions, and memories. Dr. Hoelscher is an ideal guide, facilitating lively class discussions and supplementing the phantasmagoria of sights, sounds, and smells with historical context and perspective. I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.
Cassie Crump-Toulet (Biology, Premed)
This course was the most educational, and the best overall experience of my life. When you learn in an environment like this, strong bonds are formed—note only with the people with whom you share memories, but with the city of Vienna as well. Lectures were held out in the city; we did not only read about the city but we walked, tasted, saw, and lived the city. Your homework is to be an active observer of Vienna, as well as an active participant in the social drama that occurs everywhere and everyday. Daily journal entries allow you to put your thoughts, observations, and memories in a place that they will not fade away, and can be reflected on later. I still go back and read mine to relive an experience, or to revisit a feeling or a thought. Not only do you learn from experience, but also you learn by talking to your peers and to Steve (Dr. Hoelscher) in class discussions, which are usually held in grassy areas near a site of historical memory. Everyone in the group comes from somewhere different, everyone is unique with a unique perspective, and the open and welcoming teaching environment allows for all these unique thoughts to flow freely. You would be hard-pressed to find a better professor than Steve. He is obviously extremely intelligent, but more importantly he encourages students to explore their thoughts and ideas; his openness makes it easier for students to express themselves, which fosters their learning. The program is not only educational, but also exceedingly fun. There is a lot of free time in the schedule and there is always something happening in Vienna. You will also live in an amazing location that I miss dearly. There are many fun activities planned by Steve that take place in and out of Vienna. This program teaches you about so much more than just “Memory and the City”: it teaches you about the world and how we interact with it, and it teaches you about yourself and how much there is for you to learn and to experience. One thing that I remember thinking constantly during the program is, “This is how people should be living; and it is sad that many people will not have the opportunity to do this.” If you are reading this, you need take this opportunity. This could be one of the best decisions of your life; I know it was mine.
Victoria Hurley (American Studies)
Studying abroad in Vienna was a life-changing experience that I will never forget. I have never learned so much, about a culture, my peers, or myself. The Maymester was a perfect amount of time to feel accustomed to living among the Viennese. Don't be nervous if you don't know German; picking up key phrases was fun and easy in the daily German classes. Wandering around the city and finding something new, historical, beautiful, and exciting around every corner was the most memorable experience. Everyone we had contact with went beyond being helpful to make us feel at home and I will never forget their hospitality. As lead by Dr. Hoelscher, it was a great way to meet people of all majors and come together to share this wonderful time together. Each day I spent in Austria is a day I will forever cherish and I can't wait until I can go back to Vienna some day and take on the city with confidence.
Kristin Thompson (Civil Engineering)
As a civil engineering student, I found American Studies to be directly applicable to my field of studies. It was remarkable to be able to compare urban development and transportation infrastructure in a foreign country and assess the resulting social structure. The more my classmates and I became acquainted with Vienna’s unique culture, the more we sought ways to bring back small elements of it to the United States. This is one of the priceless aspects of studying abroad: the access to several different cultures that can be creatively fused with your own personal experiences. This opportunity allows for us to grow in ways that are not possible with a solely domestic education. The diversity of my American Studies classmates, in addition to our assimilation into our new international surroundings, shed new light on everything I took for granted. Of all the things that I learned while oversees, the most important lesson is this: openness and willingness to understand an unfamiliar culture will allow you to grow personally, emotionally, and intellectually.
Grant Glenewinkel (American Studies)
Vienna: a perplexing and gorgeous venue on the world's stage, where the past brushes shoulders with the modern. It’s a city that is captivating, beautiful, eclectic, creative, and proud. There has been no single experience as meaningful to my time spent at the University of Texas than that of the Vienna Maymester. Professor Steven Hoelscher is a master of his craft and will truly challenge every student in this study abroad class. Dr. Hoelscher demands confrontations with Vienna’s striking past and what is revealed can lead to a truly life-altering experience. My friends and colleagues of my travels (who were incredibly diverse) continually bounced ideas off each other; the class is true intellectual freedom. Take the chance, confront the past.
Emily Neinast (UTeach Liberal Arts, History)
The Vienna Maymester program was my first study abroad program, and I can confidently say that it will always be my favorite, no matter what the future holds. Living in gorgeous apartments a block away from the Naschmarkt and a two-minute U-Bahn ride away from the heart of the city could not have been more ideal. My fellow students and I were fully immersed in the richness of Viennese culture, which was ever-present in the architecture, the music, the cafes, and the people. Our daily adventures to museums and castles, to restaurants and cafes, to the Wienerwald, and to the Donau were not only terrifically enjoyable experiences, but also extremely intellectual ones. Steve absolutely knows what he is talking about, and he radiates passion for the city and for teaching its colorful history. Some of my favorite memories were made while in Austria – the Viennese Heurigen, rafting the Donau, exploring Schönbrunn, and Salzburg’s Hellbrunn – and I am so thankful that I was given the opportunity to participate in this program. Also, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the incredible food, especially the gelato! It was both a learning and personally-growing adventure, and I’m quite positive that no other study abroad program will give you the same life-changing experience.
Katherine Morrow (Communication Sciences and Disorders)
I never thought Vienna, Austria would be my first destination in Europe, but it was and I absolutely loved it. This course was by far one of the most amazing experiences of my life. From meeting and living with a wonderful group of UT students, to having the opportunity to learn from one of the most genuine and intelligent professors, Dr. Hoelscher, every day was unique and incredible. The course makes you realize how memory can affect the past and the present, and so much more…and who can’t relate to that? There is no better place to study this than in the historically rich and complicated city of Vienna. You will find something or someplace new and interesting all the time, as there is not one day with nothing to do in this beautiful city. Our fieldtrips within Austria were some of my most favorite weekends as you find yourself in places you would never expect and that take your breath away. Living in Vienna for four weeks allows you to experience a way of life much different than I was used to and that you can only wish to bring back with you. A love for this place will grow inside of you that is incomparable and that you cannot describe. This course, month, and experience exceeded my expectations and I couldn’t have imagined studying abroad any other way.
Taylor Stockett (International Relations and Global Studies)
Studying abroad in Vienna, Austria, certainly ranks among the highlights of my year! I soaked in the sites of the most beautiful city in the world, sampled a most delicious Viennese cuisine, thoroughly enjoyed my coursework and colleagues, and gained insight into my own person and set of priorities. I learned much about Europe, but even more about my own political, educational, spiritual, and moral priorities. Being displaced from my usual environment for a month allowed me to take the time to learn about something new and exciting, while simultaneously studying myself. I would recommend such an eye-opening experience to anyone as I will treasure and draw from my time in Vienna for the rest of my life.
Sara Cain (Computer Science)
Vienna is without a doubt a beautiful and historic city, but it is also incredibly diverse and unique culturally. Vienna has an unexpected atmosphere and way of life that intrigued me to explore it, and fall in love with it in my four weeks. The class with Dr. Hoelscher gave me a great platform to finding hidden places I would have never come across on my own, and encouragement to investigate them intellectually in a way that not only gave me a better understanding of the city and its history, but also made the people and culture more captivating. My time in Vienna was something amazing that I will never forget, and my only wish is that I could do it again!
Sarah Johnson (American Studies)
“Never before have I so learned or so loved a city as after my Maymester in Vienna. From the get-go I experienced this capital of culture as more than a tourist, as an inhabitant, led through its streets and history by a variety of experts in a gamut of fields, not to mention the knowledgeable and insightful Dr. Hoelscher himself. By approaching Viennese memory through many different disciplines alongside students from an array of majors, I feel my understanding of Austrian society, its past and its present, to be all the more thorough. Outside of class time, we students couldn’t have asked for better living arrangements or a schedule more accommodating to individual exploration. My month in Austria is hands-down the most memorable of my life, and it is an experience I recommend to anyone, regardless of their field of study or previous travel experience.”
Valerie Meeks (Urban Studies)
“My experience in Vienna was one of the most fulfilling and rewarding journeys I have taken. The city is stunning and historical, traditional and modern, boasting an urban landscape that most definitely sits at the top of the world. Our beautiful apartment in the center of the city allowed us to walk and take the U-bahn (subway) everywhere. Our academic days consisted of German class every morning in an old palace, and from there Dr. Hoelscher would take us on field trips to places that were historical and lively at the same time. Every day was different and exciting, never stifled in a classroom, as we took our class discussions to picturesque city parks and to famous Viennese cafés. My perspective of how culture remembers, values, preserves, and sometimes fiercely changes blossomed in this inspirational place. I am counting the days until I can one day return!”
Abby Howell (Psychology)
“Studying abroad in Vienna, Austria was an experience of a lifetime. Since I wasn't able to go abroad for a year or a semester, Maymester was perfect. For a month I was completely immersed in a dynamic culture and beautiful city, fortunate enough to share such a unique adventure with many fast friends. If you have the opportunity to study abroad you should by all means go, you definitely won't regret such an amazing experience."
Kevin Olson (Urban Studies)
“Vienna is such an amazing city with a rich culture of music, history and people! The Maymester program is a fantastic way to live in a European city and break your comfort zone. This experience is irreplaceable and I will forever hold it in my heart. The topics and discussions are interesting and unlike any class I’ve ever taken! Don't be discouraged by not knowing German, it will help but the people are very helpful and accommodating. There is so much that this program has to offer, it's hard to put down in words. If I had to pick, my favorite part was the cuisine and the amazing public activities. This is a chance to really live in Europe and not just visit!"
Elizabeth Garrett (American Studies and Anthropology)
“Vienna is one of many alluring European cities rich with culture and beauty. What makes Vienna unique, however, is its drastic transformation throughout history. This dynamic place harbors vast collections of art, awe-inspiring architecture that is representative of the city’s entire historical spectrum, and a complex society that places equal importance on tradition and progress. My summer in Vienna with Dr. Hoelscher and our entire crew not only inspired me to think more critically of our modern world, but also allowed me to make priceless memories and friendships that I will cherish for the rest of my life. In four-and-a-half weeks, I fell in love with the city of Vienna…and I can’t wait to go back!"
Micah Stroup (Urban Studies)
“For me, Vienna was about a willingness to explore. Openness to losing yourself on an unfamiliar streetcar route; roaming around the Innerstadt until you stumble upon the ideal spot for lunch; even adapting to the fact that your weekend train never stopped where you had first intended, and eagerly examining the map to see where best to spend the day. If you let it, adventure will become the theme of your time in Austria’s influential city."
Sonia Rangel (History)
“Studying aboard in Vienna has been one of the best experiences I have had the opportunity to do at UT. On most days class consisted of learning basic German and then taking off into the city and immersing into the Vienna history and culture led by an amazing professor. It felt like an adventure every day, hopping into the U-bahn, walking down the Ringstrasse or going to various museums. The excursions to the other cities in Austria like Salzburg were also incredible. I will definitely return to Vienna one day, as I find it to be my home in Europe."
Denise Lopez (Education)
“I learned so much this summer. I am so glad that I decided to spend that month in Vienna. It was something completely different than what I am accustomed to. I met a group of awesome people and learned a lot about Vienna and especially about myself. I can't wait to go back!"
Sascha Rips (American Studies)
“The Vienna Maymester was definitely the high-point of my college experience. The course was designed so that we were able to learn about every facet of Viennese culture; from the language and the arts to the natural environment and the stunning architecture. As an American Studies major, the Vienna Maymester offered me the unique opportunity to view the U.S. from the outside-in. I was also able to apply the skills I had learned in American Studies classes to my study of Viennese culture, which made the experience even more fulfilling. I truly enjoyed my month in Vienna and I encourage anyone who wants to discover a new and exciting place full of magnificent beauty and rich history to consider the Vienna Maymester. It is an experience not to be missed!”
Tyler Harris (Georgraphy)
“The Vienna Maymester: Memory and the City offers a uniquely authentic and enriching study abroad experience. Few cities can match Vienna’s cultural and historical significance, not to mention its high quality of life. Over the course of this brilliantly designed program, you will come to know Vienna through the eyes of the people who shaped it over a long and turbulent history. Given its interdisciplinary nature, this Maymester in particular is a spectacular opportunity to become familiar with the many facets that form Viennese and Austrian identity. Whether your interests lie in history, geography, culture, architecture, or the fine arts, Vienna offers something for everyone."
Jeremy Atkinson (Urban Studies)
“Going to Vienna fulfilled a nearly life-long wish of mine to step outside the U.S. and see the world. The Vienna Maymester Program also brought me in contact with countless individuals, from fellow UT students to our instructors at IES and guides all over Austria (including the director of the Fulbright Program in Austria), which has contributed greatly towards my education. The best part about the program is the flexibility and freedom to explore built into it. You can do all of the requisite things such as attending the Opera and sipping coffee in cafes, or you can look for the unexpectedly modern parts of this city, like the MuseumsQuartier or rocking out at Donauinselfest (the largest music festival in Europe). In the end, the experiences I had and friends I made in Austria will last me for a lifetime."
Alisha Cloud (American Studies)
"I just cannot say enough good things about my experiences in the Maymester program in Vienna. The city stole my heart, our classes were fascinating, and I couldn't believe all of the things that were included in our program fee! IES, our host organization, took care of everything from transportation passes to fantastic outings and events. The Maymester trip is structured to suit everyone, whether they are experienced in foreign travel or not. We learned, laughed, grew, explored, and I think that each one of us came back changed for the better. Vienna is a place that must be experienced first hand, and the Maymester is a great way to go."
Annabel Lee (Plan II Honors Program and Russian Language and Culture)
“Without a doubt, this past June spent with Professor Hoelscher in Vienna was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Classes consisted of, among other things, strolling down the Ringstrasse, sipping kleiner brauners in cafes, rafting down the Danube with esteemed scientists, exploring world class history and art museums, attending symphonies and operas, experiencing authentic Austrian culture at Heurigens in the depths of the Austrian woods, all led by a brilliant professor who helps bring to life the history and culture of this incredibly rich, captivating city. It was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime experience: one that will leave you utterly captivated and internally changed.”
Thank you once more!
Steven Boening (Radio-Television-Film and Government)
“By far the most important college experience I've ever had! No where else have I been able to meet such an eclectic group of people and learn so much from one of the greatest professors I've ever had... I got more out of the trip then I ever expected.”
Marcela Gallo (Urban Studies)
“The Vienna Maymester Program was a wonderful and unforgettable experience for me. It was my first trip to Europe so the excitement was double. When I arrived in Vienna, I felt I was in another world from the moment I saw Stephansdom; I was excited to know I was going to enjoy sights like that for a whole month. This excitement grew when we saw our apartments... comfortable spacious, and cozy. Although the month went by so quickly, I made wonderful friends and had amazing experiences, including a visit to Innsbruck and the beautiful Alps, Salzburg, Mauthausen memorial, etc. The course had some requirements, like reading and we learned a lot by going to the places and meeting very interesting people, which I will never forget. I am very thankful for this opportunity; it left me with the desire of going back to Vienna one day and enjoy the exquisite coffees and wines, admire the architecture, dance the Waltz, go to the daily Operas, and so much more. Last, but not least, Dr. Hoelscher is a great lecturer; he loves Vienna and knows how to make you love it as well. His meticulous planning was part of the reason of why this trip was so successful.”
Jenny Paul (History)
“Going to Vienna was fun while I was there, and even more amazing in retrospect. Actually getting to say that I lived there, studied there, and became a part of the city through the course I was taking is something very special that only the other students who were with me can truly understand. With enough structured programs to be worth the tuition costs, but enough freedom to be WELL worth the vacation time, this course was something I'd love to take advantage of again some day—school doesn't get much better than that!”
Javier Perez-Afanador (American Studies)
“This course facilitated a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me in quite possibly the greatest city in the world. Without the cultural immersion and the in depth study, I wouldn't have known much of anything about Vienna beyond that of a tourist. Memory and the City unfurled Vienna so that I could savor its greatness and I couldn't have asked for anything more.”
Katie Leary (History and German)
“This trip truly changed my perspective about the world. I had traveled to many other places before, but my experience in Vienna was definitely unique. Living in a beautiful apartment in the center of the city I got to experience day-to-day life in the city just as any Viennese person living there would. Although I was only there for a month, my experience in Vienna is something I will always remember, and the city will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Kacie Gonzalez (American Studies and Spanish [Hispanic Linguistics])
“Vienna is perhaps the most underrated city in Europe and I couldn't think of a better way to experience it. Nothing compares to going to this wonderful place with a group of students and getting to know each other and ultimately yourself. Trust me, you'll never hear Billy Joel's Vienna the same way again.”
Chelsea Harmon (American Studies)
“My summer in Vienna has forever changed how I view the world. There are no words to adequately describe what we experienced and discovered living at 18 Dürergasse. I frequently look back at photographs and can remember each day; yet, it feels like a dream. Out of all of the cities I traveled to while in Europe, Vienna is the only city that I would move back to in a heart beat. Not only is the city amazing but the people are exceptionally helpful and I miss the food everyday. I believe that my connection with Vienna is strengthened because of what we learned in Professor Hoelscher’s class. I have a greater appreciation for what I see and what it means to the Viennese because of our excursions and discussions. We must have walked the entire city, and while tiring, it created memorable paths of culture and history. Professor Hoelscher and the IES staff went out of their way to present us with the Wienexperience and also take care of us and guide us the entire way. Learning about a far away land while in the middle of it piques a curiosity unreachable while sitting in a Texas classroom. I cannot wait to return one day and be able to explain and re-live everything that I have learned about the wonderful city.”
Vlad Codrea (Dean's Scholars Honors in Biochemistry)
“Vienna is steeped in history, music and natural beauty: medieval buildings and richly-endowed museums are just minutes away by foot from the majestic Danube, terraced heurigen and boar-inhabited forests. The lectures taught by Professor Hoelscher were given at the actual locations that we were studying, bringing about a meaningful connection with the events that took place there. Among the most memorable experiences outside of Vienna were visiting the Mauthausen concentration camp and the Hohensalzburg fortress in Salzburg. The program coordinators took great care to immerse students in the authentic aspects of Austrian culture, and I truly felt as if I was living in Vienna and not just visiting it.”
Hilary Lane (American Studies)
“Traveling to Vienna was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The city begs you to learn about its interesting history and experience the rich Viennese culture. I recommend this Maymester to anyone looking to travel to someplace that they might not have thought of before.”
Emma Dishner (Biology, Pre-Med)
“I truly loved this trip! Vienna is an amazing place full of culture, beauty, and great Austrian food. In this course I learned how this small country keeps its rich history, and in turn learned how we all choose what we want to remember.”