When in Wien: 60 years of Vienna Summer School

Imagine spending hours in world-class art museums, hiking with Dr. Stephen Hemenway and considering gelato its own food group. These are just a few things one might encounter during the Vienna Summer School.

Hope College Vienna Summer School celebrated its 60th year this past summer. Dr. Hemenway of the English Department has led this program for 41 consecutive years. Associates include Dr. David Cunningham and Dr. Janice Gibbs. Students attended a session in May, a session in June or both sessions. The program kicked off with a trip to Mörbish, Austria, where students enjoyed a boat cruise and could walk across the border to Hungary. Then there was a weekend of tours and cultural events in Vienna (Wien in German) as students met their host families. Trips to Salzburg, Prague, Budapest, Bratislava and the Austrian Alps took place on the weekends. If students attended both sessions, they had a free weekend to travel or explore Vienna on their own while the new students arrived. Many events were held throughout the week to celebrate the program as well as the Austro-American Institute of Education where Hope classes were taught, whose 90th anniversary occurred this summer.

The 60th year of the program impressed many students. “My favorite part of the program was living with a host family and gaining a better understanding of the culture,” Brittany Evans (’18) said. “The trip to the Alps was the coolest experience. It was a challenging weekend but it was worth it. I don’t think I would have done this kind of trip otherwise, so I’m very glad it was part of our experience,” Samantha Stevenson (’17) said.



BEAUTIFUL BELVEDERE— Today the Belvedere palaces serve as museums, with collections of Austrian art such as Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss. (Photo by Sarah Downing)

For students who have never traveled abroad, having Hope professors leading the group can provide a safety net in tough situations. Help is only a phone call away. If you are hesitant to travel abroad or you’re unsure if Vienna is a good fit, remember that Vienna was voted the most livable city in the world for seven consecutive years by Mercer (an international consulting firm). Mercer compares medical care, public transportation and cultural events, as well as the social and political climates of cities around the world. Vienna lives up to this title with activities to suit many interests. Classes end at noon and students are free to spend their days where they choose.

Dining is an integral part of Viennese culture. Fantastic coffee shops provided a great studying atmosphere. Not only does Vienna have its famous wiener schnitzel, it has fantastic food from all over the world. The Naschmarkt contains everything from falafel to strudel to fine cheese. For inexpensive and eclectic restaurants, students are encouraged to travel outside the city center. For example, Der Wiener Deewan is a buffet close to the University of Vienna that serves Indian and Pakistani cuisine. And price is negotiable as long as each customer pays something. Ask around the restaurant and locals encourage paying 6 euro or more, depending on the number of trips to the buffet line. And with free water (a rarity in the city), this price is more than reasonable.



HUNDERTWASSER HOUSE — Apartment building in Vienna constructed between 1983 and 1985. (Photo by Sarah Downing)

Students get an even better deal when it comes to the arts. The State Opera plays shows on a projection screen outside the building where anyone can watch for free. Remember to always ask about student ticket prices. At museums like the Albertina (for Monet’s The Water Lily Pond) and the Belvedere (containing an exceptional Gustav Klimt gallery), students receive a discounted rate. The Volksoper offers standing- room tickets and student tickets. Though it translates to the “people’s theater”, the shows here are anything but commonplace. Productions of “The Sound of Music” and “Fiddler on the Roof” ran during the program, each displaying quality to rival American theater.

The 61st Vienna Summer School program will surely be as successful as last year. Contact Dr. Hemenway or be on the lookout for posters about the program. Applying early is encouraged for this truly exceptional Hope experience.

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