by Belma Rastoder, Alumni Scholarship Recipient and MA student in the Department of International Relations
Hopping off the tram, matriculation form in one hand and my trusty phone with Google Maps in the other, I found myself standing in front of a shiny glass building that read “CEU”. One of the first things I noticed about it was the big lobby area, very modern and crisp, yet surprisingly inviting and homey.
Unfortunately, the building was still closed for students at the time due to COVID restrictions, so I decided to explore the neighbourhood a little bit and enjoy the colourfulness of Vienna’s 10th district. I didn’t know that over the next couple of weeks this place would become a home to me.
The first day of class I made it past the lobby and was immediately lost. The building seemed much bigger and more difficult to navigate around than I initially thought. It took some time to familiarize myself with the free-flow concept of the building and the fact that one could basically walk around in a circle on each floor several times before finding their classroom. Nevertheless, I explored the building more and more as days went by, and all the little corners and passages started to turn into colourful memories.
Kitchens and study lounges became my happy places where I’d meet my friends between classes for a warm cup of the tastiest, wallet-friendly lattes from the coffee machines, and the library desk next to the window became my second home. Whenever my eyes started to get tired from the readings, I’d look at the tram station across the street and observe the fast-paced Quellenstrasse residents go about their day.
The location of the campus, after all, is the best thing about it. Trams 6 and 11 stop right in front of the entrance, so you never have to worry about getting soaked in the autumn rain on your way to class. My South Slavic mom is happy with the fact that I can always find a good burek or kebab for lunch in this lively neighbourhood whenever I forget to prepare my meals in advance.
There are tons of little shops and cafes that you can visit whenever you want to relax after a long day of class, before you catch that tram back home. And if you get on the tram at the station across from CEU right before sunset, make sure you observe the windows become a work of art.