Living on different Webster campuses can offer diverse experiences. The moment you leave your home country with the study abroad program, huge piles of information and feelings cross your mind about what you will experience. Going from Webster Vienna to Geneva and meeting people from Cha-Am, you can easily feel the differences caused by cultural features, traditions and general mentality of nations. One cultural aspect worthy to talk about among all others is mentality.
It is important to keep in mind that something different is not necessarily something bad — you just have to be ready to face both the pros and cons of each cultural experience.
Despite being an American university, Webster Vienna has absorbed a particular Austrian spirit. Framed by silent work and rigorous requirements, the general life on campus is calm and hasteless, while the students remain relaxed. Walking down the corridor can always give you a chance to hear conversations about expensive cars and shoes curiously mixed with discussions about homework and exams. If you know the language, of course. Coming to Webster Vienna you should be ready to meet many Eastern Europeans, especially students from Serbia.
Geneva represents the spirit of bourgeoisie — abundant lunches with culinary delights and chocolate donuts. You are more likely to feel a curious glance, but a multicultural melting pot will always greet you with open smiles. Despite the diversity, be ready for extravagant French traditions such as triple-cheek kisses. If you’re lucky, however, the melting pot is causing that custom to fade.
If you get the chance to spend time with peers from Thailand, you will definitely have a wonderful experience and see how the culture influences one’s attitude toward life. There is a liberated spirit that is inclusive of everyone — no matter who they are, their political and religious views, or their gender identity and sexual orientation. Remember that Cha-Am is not Bangkok — modernization is slow and it is easier to discover the traditions of Thai people, including their respectful attitude toward someone’s home. Keep your shoes off, please!
Story by Matvei Klimov
Klimov is a contributing writer from the Webster Vienna campus.