long study tour: bratislava and vienna

OKAY so I guess I’ll start by apologizing? It’s currently November 18, which is a full 17 days after the study tour ended. I haven’t made a post in a long time. Writers block? Assignments? Living out my last days in Copes (less than a month left, by the way)? Laziness? It’s a lot of things, but here I am now.

My core course Globalization and European Economies B (to be formal) went to Bratislava, Slovakia and Vienna, Austria for our study tour.

As a general guide, I’m going to make a baby spreadsheet of the itinerary:

Day PlaceActivities™ 
1 BratislavaTravel to Bratislava + Walking tour
2 BratislavaNational Bank of Slovakia + Volkswagen plant
3ViennaTravel to Vienna + Castle Lichtenstein on the way + ICMPD International Center for Migration Policy Development in Vienna
4Vienna Austrian Chamber of Commerce (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich) + Walking tour
5ViennaOPEC + Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra
6ViennaOptional visit to Leopold Museum + depart to CPH

Overall, I had a great experience on the study tour. They spaced the time and activities out pretty well, the visits were interesting, the food was good, Holger (our professor) and Alex (DIS program coordinator and co-chaperone) were wonderful and on top of everything. We also got plenty of time in the evenings and afternoons to explore and decompress a bit, which was nice since we had so many academic visits.

I wasn’t planning to visit either Bratislava or Vienna when I first decided to come to Europe for study abroad. When I found out our travel week was switched from Moscow and St. Petersburg, I wasn’t necessarily disappointed but I was less acutely excited. I took Russian in college and I wanted to actually try it out and experience the culture I had learned about. I got more excited to go to Bratislava, actually, because one of my coworkers at a cafe I volunteer at (note: I need to write about that! I’ll get on that!) is from Slovakia, and I was excited to talk to her about it afterwards (which I did). I’ll admit I didn’t really think about Vienna that much. I know it sounds insane because at the very least, Vienna!! but basically, I didn’t know much about either place and I wasn’t expecting anything specific. Bratislava was pretty small and I really enjoyed the old city district. I thought it was cool how so much activity in Slovakia happens in the city because it really is the busiest area. And Vienna is obnoxiously beautiful, so many of the buildings could be a central landmark in any other city or country but they’re just casually strewn about the city.

I think my favorite academic visits were OPEC and the Volkswagen plant. OPEC is an organization we hear a lot about, thanks to the news and also our man Mankiw (+other economics textbook authors) who write, almost without fail, “A cartel is a group of firms acting in unison. An example of a cartel is OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) , which limits the production of oil.” I thought it was funny that the one of the first points our speaker made was “OPEC is not a cartel”. Hearing from an official representative of OPEC was very interesting, since it’s true that they aren’t necessarily the first people I look to for information. I took many of their publications and left knowing a little more about how the organization officially functions.

The Volkswagen plant tour was a LONNNNG tour, but the length was actually one of the things that made it so interesting: the Bratislava plant is basically a little city. People ride around on bicycles to get from building to building, and to get from A to B even within the building. I visited a Ford plant in Detroit a few years back, and there was a solid contrast between plants and also with the role of workers and the role of automation. I don’t know if it was the part of the factory we were able to visit or the 5-6 year gap, but the set up in general seemed very different.

Photo-wise, to be honest, I did a terrible job remembering to take pictures. I also didn’t really want to take pictures, especially during the visits. Anyways.

First up, Bratislava–

I took even fewer pictures in Vienna-

Bonus: Lichtenstein Castle

Additional things:

  • Go to the museums! The Leopold was optional, but I spent the entire time we had free on the last day there.
  • A friend and I went to a half alive (that’s the band) concert in Vienna during our free time, which was a blast and very worth the time + money. True cultural immersion is being surrounded by Austrian youths enthusiastically yelling (presumably) “encore!” in German at a band from California.

That’s all, I’ll probably (edit: am low-key obligated to) make a post about one of these things soon:

  • my switzerland trip
  • volunteering
  • my housing sitch
  • my friend from earlier who went back to japan is back in cph (!)
  • VERY exciting person coming to visit next week (!!)

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