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Vienna Became Home for Student During Semester Study Abroad

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – September 24, 2012 – An ad in the school newspaper, The Collegian, in the fall of 2011 prompted English major Andres Orduña to pay a visit to the Office of Global Engagement at The University of Texas at Brownville and Texas Southmost College.

“As I was looking at the summer study abroad options, I thought, ‘If I’m going to go all that way, why don’t I stay longer and really get immersed in a totally new environment,’” Orduña said. “So I asked about a full-semester program.”

Andres OrdunaA 2005 Los Fresnos High School graduate, Orduña said he has always wanted to travel to Europe and has had a long-term interest in the German language. When the staff at Global Engagement told him about a school in Vienna, he knew that was the program for him.

But time was short – the school’s application deadline was the following day.

“We knew Andres was eager to go in the spring semester, so we were able to push the deadline a week,” said Dr. Alla Paroiatnikova, Executive Director for Global Engagement. “Our wonderful staff rallied to assist Andres in quickly completing all his paperwork.”

Orduña was enrolled at FHWien University of Applied Sciences of WKW. The university’s eight institutes became united in 2007 under one roof in a modern structure located in the heart of Vienna. Specializing in business management and communications, classes are offered in English and German.

“All of my classes were in English,” he said. “My assignments included a lot of writing about world affairs and the state of the Euro crisis. I enjoyed researching the Euro crisis since I didn’t know much about that.”

Fellow classmates included Austrians, other Europeans and non-Europeans, including a few from the United States. Orduña had only two American students in his marketing class – one from Washington and one from Hawaii.

Answering an ad for a roommate, Orduña found an affordable and convenient apartment with another student that was only a 12-15-minute rapid transit ride to the university.

“Public transportation in Vienna is fantastic,” he said. “I was able to get everywhere on the U-bahn – to the university, museums, operas and places of interest like the Schönbrunn Palace. If I wasn’t on the U-bahn, I would be walking. With all that walking and eating less snack food and fresher, healthy foods, I dropped 15 or 20 pounds.”

One of the highlights of his time in Vienna was a hiking excursion in the Austrian Alps. He and some fellow students rode a couple of hours by train, disembarked and walked about 40 minutes to a base camp. From that location, they set forth on their three-hour hike.

“It was spring by then and the snow was melting; I didn’t have hiking boots, but it was still a great day,” Orduña said.

Orduña said he would like to study abroad again if the opportunity arises, although financing is an obstacle. He was able to finance last semester with financial aid, scholarships, including one from South Texas Academic Rising Scholars [STARS], student loans and personal savings.

“I know a lot of people are scared about study abroad because they don’t want to take a risk – that they might get somewhere and not like it,” Orduña said. “Money is hard to come by; it’s a huge investment, but my experience was really worth it.”

Scheduled to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in English in May 2014, Orduña hopes to hone his writing skills and do more traveling in the future.

“Andres took every advantage of his experience and returned to Brownville a more sociable and confident young man than when he left,” Paroniatnikova said. “He now has friends all over the world and is confident he can succeed in the multicultural global environment. I am very glad our students now have great opportunities to study abroad at 16 partner universities in 10 countries so that they can become citizens of the world.”

For more information on study abroad, contact the Office of Global Engagement at 956-882-7092 or global.engagement@utb.edu


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