Study, Work, and Travel in Ama Kontor's Style

Lot of people asked me, how do you manage to do all things together? Study, work and travel at the same time? Sounds crazy! But rest assured, in this post, my classmate, Ama, will tell you how to do those three altogether.

Please introduce yourself. Who are you? 

My name is Amanda, but you can call me Ama. I’m a 22-year-old first-generation American living in Europe. I like to think of myself as a refugee fleeing from Trump, but I’m mainly just pursuing my master’s degree in Communication Science at the University of Vienna.

Why Vienna?

Vienna is not a first-choice destination for most Americans (this might be because many don’t know where it is), so people are always surprised to find out I’m here. While traveling Europe 4 years ago, I had the chance to visit Vienna for the first time and immediately fell in love with the city’s charm. That charm included its apple strudels and, probably to the joy of the city’s tourism department, its enchanting Christmas markets. When I returned home, I always felt like I left a piece of myself in Vienna that I desperately missed. So, after I graduated and found out about the new master’s program at the University of Vienna, I was only an acceptance letter away from dropping everything and moving here.

Vienna´s landmark

Where is your favorite spot in Vienna? 

Regardless of season, I could spend all day in the MQ courtyard. In the wintertime, you can drink mulled wine in these cozy outdoor capsules whose interior designs look like they came out of some funky modern art catalogue. In the warmer months, you can surround yourself with the colorful flowers and play minigolf. What I really love here though is walking through the differently themed connecting tunnels—like the Literatur, Typografie, and Street Art passages, just to name a few. They feature some really beautiful artwork and decoration, but more importantly, vending machines that dispense art. In general, the MQ courtyard is such a fun and creative space, and hanging out there always has me itching to get back to my sketchpad or canvas. 

What is your favorite restaurant/café/bar in Vienna? 

Since Vienna is so famous for its coffeehouse culture, it would just be wrong not to have a favorite café here. The city makes it difficult to choose just one, but I think the best is Kleines Café, which is tucked away in a little corner of the first district. Anyone who speaks a lick of German won’t be surprised to find out that it’s exactly what its name suggests—a small café. Its cute size is one thing, but what makes it different from the others is its nostalgic atmosphere. The tufted leather couches, newspaper rods, and waiters seem to have stepped out of a time machine from the 1920’s. Everything about the place makes it so romantic to sit there, with one hand grasping the ear of your cappuccino cup and the other resting in your lover’s palm. 

What is your job? Why did you choose this job? 

I work in a clothing store on Mariahilferstrasse, but getting the position was sheer luck. I had spent weeks looking for work when I first arrived in Vienna, but nothing came up with my limited German. One morning, I got this weird gut feeling to call the clothing store, which had just recently opened, and ask for a job. It turned out I had called during a meeting where the main discussion point was how to hire more employees—and English was mandatory because the manager didn’t speak German. So, choosing this job was really a no-brainer for me!

How do you manage your time between study and work, and also still doing your hobbies? What are your tips and tricks? 

Managing time between study, work, and leisure can feel impossible sometimes, but it’s definitely doable. It’s important not to let school and work consume you to the point where your friends wonder if you went back home. As for some tips and tricks, telling you to plan ahead is a bit hypocritical coming from a notorious procrastinator, but you should if you can. To not feel too stressed, I like to schedule my week so I only have either a shift at work or classes to go to in a day, but not both. This way I have time during the day to breathe, complete homework, run errands, hang out with friends, or do my hobbies. If you have to pull all-nighters for schoolwork like I tend to, surround yourself with snacks, put on some music, and separate your tasks into smaller, less overwhelming chunks. But most importantly, never underestimate the restorative power of a power nap!

After you finish your studies in Vienna, what is your plan?

I don’t have any concrete plans after I graduate, but I hope it involves something in the creative/cultural industries. Whether that happens back home in the US, here in Europe, or a completely new place altogether is still TBD.

Do you like traveling? Why?

Yes, I love traveling! I get bored of routines and my surroundings pretty quickly, so I have a constant urge to discover what kind of personality a different city has to offer through its locals, architecture, experiences, and more. Other than that, I really stand by the saying that travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer. I never regret paying for a trip because the new friendships I make, the novelties I experience, and the stories I bring home are really priceless.

In Dresden

Which city do you like the most?

It’s really difficult to choose which city I like the most. Not counting Vienna, I’m currently in a love triangle (or love square?) between Chicago, Paris, and any city on the coast of Croatia. On the one hand, Chicago is such a cool, clean (compared to the Manhattan I’m used to), and versatile place. I love its mixture of old wooden revolving doors, towering steel skyscrapers, and beaches along the crystal blue giant of Lake Michigan. When it comes to Paris, I resisted any participation in its worldwide admiration for the longest time, but completely gave in when I visited one summer and instantly fell victim to the kind of historical nostalgia experienced by Gil in “Midnight in Paris.” And walking through the streets of Zadar, Split, and Dubrovnik in the summer always had me feeling like I was living some hazy, sun-drenched dream.



Describe your traveling style in 3 words.

Relaxed, curious, hungry. And I mean that last one literally!

What are the 3 things that you must bring while traveling? 

The first must-bring is a good camera. I used to be lazy and think that living in the moment without a camera during a trip was enough for me, but then I had no photos to show for it and forgot most of the cool things I experienced because of it. Now I’m really into photography, and taking nice pictures is actually one of my favorite parts about traveling.

Second, I always bring some earbuds to listen to a song or album over and over again during a trip. Cementing it as the soundtrack has immediate and long-term payoffs. You have some good tunes to serve as background music for your trip, but you can recall the sights, smells, sounds, and emotions related to the place you visited when you listen to that song/album months later.
The third and probably most important must-bring is John! He’s an amazing travel companion who brings me and my wallet back down from the clouds, but he’s also a calm head who answers all the worried texts from my mom asking if I’m still alive. (note by B: I just can't stand to not laugh on this statement)

Ama & John


So those are some stories from Ama and she proves that study, work and travel are very doable if people are really willing to do that! ;) If you have some other tips & trick about how to study, work, and travel you can also put some comments below!

And if you want to see more stories of Ama, you can follow her Instagram (@a.k.stylebook) and she also wrote an article for Metropole ! :)

See you in the next post!

Vienna, November 20th, 2017

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