As I'm finalizing my plans for this summer, I'm realizing just how difficult all my options are going to be for dealing with celiacs. If I don't get a fellowship I applied to (I'll know in a couple weeks) then I'm scheduled to go to Austria for half of summer, ironically to study psychology of health. And I am definitely going to Russia for summer 2014 as part of my scholarship study program in Russian.
So does anyone have any experience studying abroad and making things work? For Austria I have a couple options for living spaces: apartment, dorm and home stay, but in Russia I will have to be in a homestay as part of the program. Any tips/experience would be really helpful. Once I know for sure if I'll be in Vienna, I'll start calling and interrogating program directors about allergy sensitivity and such but having some guiding questions could help so I don't bug them more than I already have.
I was not gluten free at the time, but I did my study abroad in Austria several years ago, so maybe I can help a bit with that part of things. If you're in Vienna, you may be able to find some restaurants that can accomodate you - but celiac is not very well known in Austria, so I wouldn't count on it too much. Austrian cuisine is not very gluten-free friendly: breads, pastries, sauces thickened with flour, etc. Indian or Thai food is available and might be a good option. Also, any restaurant with 'bio' in the name tend towards things like organic, vegetarian, etc. and may be able to do gluten free. You should be able to find Schar products at the grocery store, too, and many products will have labels in English as well as German.
When I was there, I lived in a dormitory, but we did our own cooking. Each floor in the dorm had a kitchen, and we had cupboards that you could lock where we kept our food, pans, and other cooking utensils. Each dorm room had it's own fridge - not a huge one, but big enough. You would want to check with your program director, but most dormitories in Austria are set up this way and are generally separate from the universities, unlike in the U.S. At any rate, I think an option where you could do your own cooking would be best, rather than a family stay.
Many Austrians speak English, but I would take along restaurant cards that explain celiac, and maybe learn the basic phrases and vocabulary on celiac in German. I think there is an Austrian celiac society, so you might reach out to them for assistance.