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Postcard from Vienna from Emma Frothingham'17

November 24, 2015

Name: Emma Frothingham

Hometown: Corvallis, Oregon

Graduation year: 2017

Majors/Minor: History and Music Majors, German Minor    

Postcard from Vienna 1 Nov.2015Above: The author at Schloss Schönbrunn.

As cliché as it sounds, Vienna really is a city of music! There are multiple concerts and operas performed every night and they are very affordable for students. There are numerous concert halls throughout the city and a number of museums about music, including the amazing Haus der Musik, which is an interactive music museum. Many of the houses where famous composers lived are now museums holding original scores and instruments.  So far many of my favorite moments abroad have been going to the opera and seeing world famous musicians. Therefore, it only seemed right to send a postcard about the music of Vienna!

Where are you studying abroad/why did you chose this country/program?

I am studying abroad in Vienna, Austria, with IES Abroad. I chose Vienna because I am studying music, history, and German. Vienna seemed like the perfect city to combine all three. My primary interest with history is modern European history, so where better than the former seat of the Habsburg empire? I also wanted to go somewhere with a lot of musical opportunities. So many famous musicians passed through Vienna and the Viennese are crazy about their musicians! It’s difficult to walk down a street and not find some plaque recognizing Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Mahler or some other famous musician. I choose IES Abroad because the program offered a variety of courses in the fields I was interested in. Through the program I’ve been able to explore my interests in music, take classes in German, and do hands-on work in an archive of Habsburg papers.

Postcard from Vienna 3 Nov.2015Above: One of the Emma's favorite coffee houses, Cafe Sperl.

Describe some of the daily routines/rituals that you’ve observed while abroad.

Coffee houses are a huge part of the Viennese lifestyle. Every neighborhood has at least one and many times there will be a number of them all within the same block. Every coffee house likes to advertise which famous composer or artist or writer used to come. All of the coffee houses serve cake, coffee, and other small dishes. It is perfectly normal and expected that you come in, sit order, and then stay for at least an hour or so. People read newspapers, write letters, do some work and of course enjoy their coffee and cake. They also will stay for hours and hours. It’s very different than in the US, where people go in, order their coffee, drink it, and leave.

What is your favorite place in your host city/country?

The Hofburg! Lying in the heart of the inner city, the Hofburg has so many functions. It’s home to a number of wonderful museums, such as the Habsburg Treasury, the Habsburg apartments, the Armory, the Musical Instrument collection, and an art museum. There’s also the Spanish Riding School, where the Lipizzaner horses perform. There is a café in the old Palm house, which also holds the Schmetterlinghaus, or the Butterfly house. Numerous government offices are also housed, as well as the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, or the library, which is home to one of the most gorgeous reading rooms I’ve ever seen.

Below: The roof of St. Stephan’s Cathedral with the double-headed eagle of the Habsburg family.

Postcard from Vienna 4 Nov.205


What has been your proudest/most exciting moment abroad?

I was on a delayed plane, returning from a weekend trip and started talking to the Austrian couple next to me in German. After talking for a few minutes, the husband told me that he did actually speak English, but that my German was better than his English. I was so proud that I had been able to keep up a conversation in German and that he hadn’t felt the need to switch into English!

What will you bring home as a souvenir?

I’m bringing back programs from all of the operas and concerts I’ve gone to. I’m also bringing back a bunch of books in German, from Harry Potter to Grimm’s Fairy Tales to actual German literature. Of course, I will also be bringing back a ton of chocolate!


Postcard from Vienna 2 Nov.2015Above: The Staatsoper