On Fernweh and Farewells

As a compulsive “Google-er” I once found myself searching for untranslatable German words on the internet. The results showed websites which repetitively listed top 15 German words that apparently do not have direct English counterparts. Upon skimming through the articles, I recognized the term “fernweh,” an old personal favorite word that I previously used as a title for my long-forgotten photography blog from centuries ago. Fernweh (/ˈfɛrnweː/) literally means “far-woe” or the longing to go to distant places. In essence, it is the opposite of the feeling of homesickness.

With everything that’s going on, I’m pretty sure that most of us are yearning for a perfect getaway to escape and take a break as soon as we’ve safely conquered this pandemic. Since we can’t grab our suitcases and set sail to Neverland at the moment, we will try to bid farewell to our fernweh feelings for the meantime by exploring the best of Vienna in this post. I hope you’ll have fun tagging along as much as I have enjoyed putting up my final entry for this blog. Los, auf!

faQ: WHERE IS VIENNA?

Map of Austria

Before we dive into our main agenda, let’s first address the number one FAQ that I get from most people (aka my fellow Asian friends). In the place where I’m from, not everyone is entirely familiar with Vienna (or Austria in general), as compared to its more famous neighboring European cities such as Paris, Barcelona, or Rome. Vienna is the capital city of Austria which is a pre-dominantly mountainous and land-locked country surrounded by Germany, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, and Switzerland. Aside from being the Wine Capital, it is globally known as the “City of Music.” Lots of renowned music virtuosos like Mozart, Beethoven, Straus, and even the Father of Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, have significantly lived and worked in Vienna for much of their careers.

Vienna as seen from the Schönbrunn Palace

ICONIC LANDMARKS

If you’ve seen Richard Linklater’s romantic-drama film, Before Sunrise (1995), then I guess you’re off to a good start. The entire movie was shot in Vienna, and it featured some of the most iconic landmarks of the city like the Viennese Prater.  Much like Céline and Jesse in the film, my MSc EF cohorts and I also adore taking strolls around many other famous spots in the city such as St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Hofburg Palace, and the Vienna State Opera, just to name a few.

Stephansplatz

Donauinsel / Danube River

Rathausplatz – Burgtheater

Maria-Theresien-Platz

Hietzing

MUSEUMS

If you’re a fellow museum buff, I bet you’ll easily fall in love with Vienna. When I moved here back in September 2020, the first advice that I received from my friends was to avail the Bundesmuseen-Card promo from the federal ministry. Interestingly, the Bundesmuseen-Card lets you visit eight major museums in Vienna for only 19 EUR instead of 60 EUR (not a paid ad lol!). Needless to say, I basically spent my first two weeks in the city by paying a visit to almost all of the best classic and contemporary museums and libraries in Austria. (Talk about a very cultured and classy way to welcome its visitors, am I right?)

Kunsthistorisches Museum

Albertina Museum

Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss at the Belvedere Palace

*Pro tip: Be sure not to miss out Albertina, Belvedere and the Leopold Museum if you’re a fan of Klimt, van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, and Schiele!

PARKS AND GREEN SPACES

Aside from the operas, cafés, and museums, one of the greatest things about Vienna is its abundance of green spaces and public parks. When we received our final task for the field course of the Programme, my batchmates and I happily went to most of the accessible forests, hiking areas, and gardens of the city and incorporated those mini adventures into our very own field assignments.

Lainzer Tiergarten

Schönbrunn Palace

From our experience, we can confidently say that spring is the best season to visit Vienna, considering the weather and more importantly, the views! Starting from late March, different species of colorful flowers and other ornamental plants can be seen blossoming in almost every corner of the city. It’s definitely something that one should never miss out #WhenInVienna.

Setagaya Park

Rathaus Park

As I wrap up this post (and similarly, as we cap off our 2-year Programme), I’ve come to a realization that from this point on, Vienna will forever be on the list of places that I would consistently long to visit again as soon as I’m back home and unable to shake off this feeling of fernweh. Truth be told, I never really understood all the fuss about this city when I first arrived here. I only learned to appreciate it when I finally got around the lyrics of Billy Joel’s Vienna and the story behind the song. Indeed, it is really all about slowing down (you crazy child…) and finding the stillness from within. So for now, maybe I won’t say, “Auf wiedersehen!” (Farewell!) to Vienna, but only and always, “Bis später,” or “Until then!” :’)


Aine Parlade is a forester from the Philippines. She is currently a second-year student at BOKU University in Vienna, Austria as part of MSc European Forestry Batch 2019-2021. Should you have any queries or comments about the post, you may reach her via aineparlade@gmail.com.

*Art and images are owned by the author.

My European Forestry Adventure Calendar

Hello, reader! If you’re new here, I’d like to welcome you to the MSc European Forestry (MScEF) blog. I’m Aine Parlade from the Philippines, currently a second year MScEF student at the Universität für Bodenkultur (BOKU) in Vienna, Austria.

In the previous posts, my colleagues have recounted their unique experiences and memories from studying in the university and from working in various forestry organizations for the internship period. This time, I’d like to walk you through our 2-year programme schedule, or what I’d personally like to call my MScEF Adventure Calendar from August 2019 to present (February 2020).

Shall we begin?

august 2019

Our 2-year mobile programme kicks off every August, a month earlier from the official onset of the autumn semester in the University of Eastern Finland. This month is specially dedicated for the Programme orientation and the month-long Trends in European Forestry course. “Trends” is an introductory course to European Forestry which takes MScEF students to various learning excursions in Finnish forests, parks, museums, and related forestry facilities.

SEPTEMBER – NOVEMBER 2019

In UEF, the autumn semester officially runs from September until the first few weeks of December. Since the courses in the university have different durations and do not begin simultaneously, the busyness of a student’s schedule may very depending on their selection of subjects.

(The courses I decided to take did not really begin early at that time, so I had some spare days to squeeze in some weekend travel plans!)

DECEMBER 2019

Capping off the year also meant the conclusion of our first semester in UEF. Around this time, students are either traveling or coming home for the holidays.

JANUARY 2020

We begin another round of semester for January. During this month, everyone of us was also busy drafting application letters for the internship period and motivation statements for the selection of the university for our second year studies. For the applied period, various forest organizations and companies have partnered with the Programme to offer internship opportunities in Canada, Brazil, China and Europe.

Exciting times ahead!

FEBRUARY – APRIL 2020

Our spring semester continues in UEF!

MAY 2020

If we followed the original MScEF Programme calendar, we’d most likely be exploring the forests in Spain, France, Romania, Austria and Germany for the entire month of May. Unfortunately, for 2020, we had to do our field course assignments online and extend our stay in Finland. Luckily, Joensuu is a wonderful place to stay in spring… and early summer! The weather during these times of the year is very nice and perfect for a quick swim in the lake!

(Aside from biking in Joensuu’s forests, I’d say that one of the highlights of my stay here is getting the chance to go for lake swimming!)

JUNE – AUGUST 2020

Our internship period runs from June to August (or sometimes September) depending on the arrangements set between the students and partner forest organizations. Since I got accepted to do my Applied Period (AP) in the European Forest Institute in Spain, I moved to Barcelona by the month of July.

For a brief period in August, I was also able to spend my birthday with my family. Not sure how we managed to squeeze all these activities in a week!

SEPTEMBER 2020

September marked the end of our internship period and the beginning of my month-long break before we start our winter semester at BOKU University. During this month, I had enough time to register for my second year studies and officially move to Vienna. My free time has also allowed me to visit museums and nearby cities of Austria.

OCTOBER – NOVEMBER 2020

We started our semester at BOKU University with a Field Camp course in the mountain forests of Austria. My dear colleague and batchmate Amina, splendidly wrote about our adventure time for this week-long trip. In case you missed it, you can revisit our story here!

DECEMBER 2020

December is quite a hectic time for students at BOKU as we are nearing the conclusion of our winter semester. Same as last year, I took a short holiday break to reunite with my family.

JANUARY – FEBRUARY 2021

Our winter semester continues and so I shall be closing this post with some of the photos I took for the first two months of 2021. (Sadly, we’re down to the last 5 months before the end of our 2-year programme!)

 

You’ve reached the final part of this adventure calendar. Hope you had fun getting a glimpse of what it’s like being an MScEF student! Will we see you here next year?

*Art and images are owned by the author.

 


Aine Parlade is a forester from the Philippines. She is currently a second year student at BOKU University in Vienna, Austria as part of MSc European Forestry Batch 2019-2021. Should you have any queries or comments, you may reach her via aineparlade@gmail.com.