Sunday, February 26, 2012

Schlierbach and Steyr

       Last Saturday (19.02.2012) a group of about 40 students from my program went to visit the towns of Schierbach and Steyr. Each are about 45 minutes from Linz, so it was a nice day trip. Schlierbach was absolutely gorgeous. There we visited a Monastery that had not only a breathtaking sanctuary and library (complete with nearly 20,000 books!!!), but also a cheese making factory and a stained glass gallery/factory. We had a beautiful view of the Northern Alps, and we got to to taste delicious award winning cheese. While everything else was great, my favorite part of Schlierbach was the sanctuary, hands down. It didn't even look real it was so ornate. Practically every room had beautiful paintings on the ceilings, and I just loved everything about Schierbach.

Steyr was also nice. It was a rather typical European looking type of town. It has a history of ridiculous flooding and some fires. They used to be the second richest town in Austria next to Vienna. It was a pretty town, but I was not wowed by it like I was by the Monastery in Schlierbach. I think the religious aspect of everything in Schierbach just made it more impressive and special to me. I still loved the town though.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Greetings from Austria!

Hallo meine freunde!
    I am sorry it has taken me so long to update you all on my arrival. Unfortunately, my computer decided to be  smart and change all of the hyper links to German on a large number of my pages. Therefore it has taken me a while to make time to sit down and figure out which link does what. And now without further ado, my first  blog post from Österreich!
    Overall I had flawless travels, all of my flights left on time are arrived early. Other than the crying, screaming child two seats over from me and the woman with the constantly reclined seat immediately in front of me on the 8 hour flight across the ocean, I did not have anyone horribly obnoxious sitting near me. I did not get much sleep at all, and after 16 hours of travel I was pretty exhausted. I'm finally adjusted to the time difference (6 hours ahead of EST) I had no issues with customs at all, which is the one thing that I was the most worried about.
      Our orientation began Monday, and things have been pretty busy since then. I finally have the listing of classes that will be offered and all of their descriptions and meeting times. rather than meeting the same time multiple days of the week for the entire semester, each class only meets about 6 or 7 times the whole semester for a few hours each time. This means that some classes are completely done with by the middle of April, while others won't even start until May. It is not atypical for students here to take about 10 classes each semester. As you can imagine, this stresses me out big time. I am trying to map out the times of all the classes I can maybe get credit for back home, while making sure the meeting times don't overlap, while trying to make sure I have at least Fridays or Mondays off for some additional weekend travel. Hopefully I'll get my act together on that very soon. In the mean time, I have started my "survival German" class and am working on the basics.

     The party life here is alive all of the time. I have not even been here a full week and a team of students from the school and our mentoring program have taken us out to bars and clubs 3 times already. Yes you read that correctly, I've been here 5 days and I've been out 3 times. Those of you who are good friends with me know I don't go out much, so this is a lot for me. Did I mention there is a party today (and actually every Thursday) on campus that the school approves of and endorses, and another Brazilian Carnival themed one on Monday. And of course Friday and Saturday are party days. It will be a lot to get used to. I hope once the semester starts it will die down.
       This Saturday I get to go visit Steyr (shown above) and Schlierbach, then next week I get to go visit Mauthausen. I am really excited about both even though they are very different. On the first trip we should be touring a monastery and doing some cheese tasting among other things. The second is a concentration camp, so that should definitely be eye opening. So much history around here...
      I will probably have the next update sometime after my visit to Steyr and Schlierbach. Thanks so much for sticking through the entirety of this pretty lengthy post!

    Auf wiedersehen!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I Leave Tomorrow!

Time has gone by so incredibly  quickly! It is crazy to think that tomorrow I will be on an airplane, flying off to a different continent. Ive packed my bag, only to find it exceeds the weight limit. Later today I will have the joy of unpacking and repacking everything, as well as deciding on if I want to bring a second bag or not. As it turns out, it might actually be cheaper for me to check a second bag than it would be for me to pay the weight overage fee on my current bag. But that is something I'll tackle later.
I've called the bank and let them know not to freeze my cards when they're used in Europe, printed out every form of identification or insurance that was emailed to me that I thought I might need, and tried to take care of everything in the states that I can so it is not a bother to me while I am away. Some things will just have to wait until I get back (like the Drivers License that will expire while I am away), but overall I think I am about as ready to go as a can be.
I've found out that I will be living in a hotel room for the first few days because my room will not be ready. So it will actually be a few additional days before i'm truly settled in but I'm sure it will be fine. Also I can now announce my tentative spring  break plans... Paris, France - Marrakesh, Morocco - and Barcelona, Spain! Of course everyone will hear more about that as the first of April approaches.
I will write again in Europe!