Fulbright & Fencing
Living in Vienna was a fantastic experience. The Austrian-American Educational Commission (Fulbright Austria) gave me the unique opportunity to work abroad and teach English at two Bundesgymnasien (high schools). My students were very eager to learn about American culture and practice for their English oral section of the Matura (graduating exam). There was not a single boring day during my time in Vienna. I truly looked forward to coming to work since the commute itself was an adventure, to creating presentations on American culture, and to fencing afterwards!
Fencing is a serious hobby of mine that I brought from the USA. During my college career, I trained on The College of William and Mary Fencing Team and at The Virginia Academy of Fencing and decided to try out for the Puerto Rican National Fencing Team in 2018—which was a success! Earning my place on the Puerto Rican team opened a lot of doors for me, as I was able to compete in The Pan-American Championships in Havana, Cuba, and train with Olympians in Orleans, France! I felt blessed having the chance to live in Central Europe and fence with a couple Austrian fencing clubs: Fecht-Union-Mödling (FUM) and Wiener Sport Club (WSC). It was very interesting to see the different bladework and footwork techniques and to acquire new German vocabulary!
Thanks to my main Austrian fencing club, FUM, I was able to compete all around Europe and learn about various sabre fencing styles. My very first tournament during my tenure with Fulbright Austria took place in Brno, Czech Republic, where I represented Austria. The Czech tournament was called “The Sokol Cup,” and there were competitors from the Czech Republic, Austria, and Slovenia. In addition, I competed in Munich, Germany, which was perhaps the largest tournament I participated in since there were over 10 different nationalities of saberists. The Munich tournament was a fun trip, but a bit far. In contrast, the tournament in Vienna was nice because it was in my hometown. My final and best tournament was in Villach, Austria. There I earned third place, taking home a wonderful souvenir—a bronze medal!
Applying to Fulbright Austria was certainly one of the best decisions I made in college. I learned so much from different cultures and made lifelong friends and great memories! If given the chance, I would recommend visiting Austria. Stellung, bereit, los!
Gabriella Carney studied Russian and post-Soviet studies at the College of William and Mary. She was a US teaching assistant during the 2018–19 school year. Photos courtesy of Gabriella Carney.