Monday, October 27, 2008

"If I lived in Europe and had a son, he would be in the Vienna Boys Choir. Then he wouldn't turn into Eurotrash."

So this last week has been pretty intense. Although this week is the true midterm week, I had 2 presentations, 2 papers, one written test (in German), one oral exam, and one normal test within the last week. Which means that this week, I don't have very much to do. Plus, we have no regular classes. :)

This last weekend, Stephen was here in Vienna. We went to see the Vienna Philharmonic, which was very neat. They played modern music, so it was very interesting to listen to. Though we did encounter a very, very rule old Austrian man there. Big surprise. We also went to see the Vienna Boys Choir yesterday morning, bright and early. The VBC has been around since the Hapsburgs created it in the 1400s. It still performs every Sunday during mass in the Hapsburgkapelle. They were (needless to say) absolutely INCREDIBLE. They are all these adorable little boys who can sing higher (and louder) than your average soprano. It was a very cool experience.

This last week, I went with one of my classes to see the National Bibliothek (library), which was also founded by the Hapburgs. It was absolutely one of the most gorgeous buildings I have ever been in. And it's actually a functioning library! We also went and saw Karlskirche (beautiful example of Baroque architecture) and the Kaiserkript, where the bodies of the Hapburgs are (their hearts are elsewhere).

In other news, I almost broke like every bone in my body in trampoline this week. Specifically, my neck/face. I am really afraid of doing backflips, and we're learning how to do these sort of half backflip things. Anyway, I keep bailing out halfway through. My teacher assured me before my last try that we were right done the street from the hospital. And then I proceeded to land on my head. It was not good. I'm fine though. I was pretty sore for a few days, though. Don't worry, mom! I'm being safe! :)

This weekend, Stephen and I are going to visit Janne and Barbara in Hamburg. Should be a fun trip!

To see pictures of various things in this post, click here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Austrian vs. American Culture Week

Sorry that it's been awhile since I've updated. Nothing too exciting has happened, but I will tell you what has. This week has been an interesting mix of Austria and America.

On Monday, I went and saw Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute). This is an opera that was written by Mozart and premiered right here in Austria with Mozart as the conductor. I went to the Volksoper to see it. At this particular opera house, if you are a student they will sell you the best seats in the house that are left over for 10 Euros. So Polly, Natalie, and I got box seats right by the stage for 10 Euros! It was very cool.

Tuesday, we went to a TGI Friday's that we found a few blocks from school. I had a huge cheeseburger and fries and an order of fried mac & cheese. SO good! It was funny though. I was in an American restaurant with American food, so I felt like I should have a huge refillable Coke in front of me. But apparently that's not how it works in Austrian TGIF's. Anyway, I was actually sick to my stomach for the next two days. I think it's because my European-ized stomach can't handle all the fried food anymore. I will need to remedy this.

On Thursday, we found the Austrian version of a Chipolte. I know, I know. Incredible!

This weekend was pretty uneventful. I pretty much just bummed. I spent a few hours in a cafe on Friday, did absolutely nothing on Saturday, and studied all day Sunday. Again, pretty uneventful.

This coming up week, I have a bunch of tests, papers and presentations, thought the week after this is technically midterm week. During that week, I have no normal classes and only one exam, so I will get to do a lot of Vienna exploration. Stephen is coming this weekend, which I am way excited about. We are going to see the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna Boy's Choir, which will be awesome.

Also, I just discovered that I will get to go to a ball in November! Vienna is one of the last places in the world to still have balls. I'll be going to one on November 15th in the Hofburg palace, which is the palace where the Hapsburg royal family lived. I even get to wear a ball gown! I am super excited. If you click here and then click on the ballfotos '07 link, you can see pictures of it from last year.

Note to fellow travel bloggers: Update! On my list of people's blogs I read, the last person who updated did so 7 days ago. I want to know what's going on!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Of Sausage, Beer, and Castles

I just got back from a weekend in Munich, Germany with Stephen, Polly, and Natalie. Let me just tell you, Munich is one of the coolest cities I have ever been in. I'd never been to Bavaria (southern Germany) before, so this was new for me. Munich is a fascinating mix between the Northern Germany that I love so much and the Austria that I've been loving more recently. The food is absolutely incredible, even life changing. :) Then again, sausage and potato salad are two of my favorite foods.

Anyway, we got in late Friday night, so we just bummed around our hostel, which is the nicest hostel I've been in yet. On Saturday, we got up and went on our own walking tour of Munich, including the Rathaus, Frauenkirche, and a bunch of cool churches. That afternoon/evening we spent in the Hofbräuhaus, which is the main and most famous brewery restaurant thing in Munich. It was so incredible! The food was traditional Bavarian food, the beer was their famous brew served in 1 liter steins, the music was live by a traditional Bavarian band, and the wait staff wore lederhosen and dirndels. I stole one of the "masses" which are the gigantic steins, which I am very excited about.

The next day, we decided to take an unplanned day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle on the German/Austrian border which is about 2 hours from Munich. Neuschwanstein is one of the most visited attractions in all of Europe, with over 6,000 visitors per day. This castle is the huge white one on a cliff that you see in all the ads for Germany. It's the one that Disney based Cinderella's castle off of, and the one that's in their logo. It was a pretty long, steep walk to the top, but it was truly breathtaking. Like the Grand Canyon or Machu Picchu, this is one of those things that pictures really can't capture.

In short, I would recommend visiting Munich. I went a little postcard happy while I was there, so many of you will be receiving one. To see pictures click here.

I miss you people. I really do.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I want IHOP...

As I write this post, I am on my way back to Vienna from Klagenfurt. It was a good weekend, with the highlights being a pub crawl with all the international students, watching Edward Scissorhands, and an American breakfast. A couple of Stephen’s friends whipped up some eggs, bacon, and American style pancakes. All with syrup that an American brought from home last semester and left. Delicious.

So I had my first trampoline class on Wednesday. It was GREAT. Polly and I are taking it together. We’re in the beginner’s class, so we’re starting with the basics but with the proper technique. So far, I can jump really high, land on my butt, and tuck, pike, and puck. It’s great because it’s in German, and the instructor told me that, since I wanted to learn German he would speak no English the whole class. Which is amusing, because Polly doesn’t speak German, so I sit there and translate what I can while she’s jumping on a trampoline. It’s really quite entertaining. It’s also cool because the class is made up of all Austrian college students, so we’ve met some cool natives.

I also went on an outing with my Cultural Heritage of Austria class on Wednesday. We went and saw the Roman ruins of Vindabona, the Roman fort here before Vienna. I also saw the oldest church in Austria, the second oldest painting in Austria, and a lot of pretty buildings. I’m really excited to be going to see all of this stuff!

I’ve pretty much gotten my travel plans for the rest of the semester figured out. I will going to Munich (this weekend), Hamburg (to visit Janne and Barbara), Zurich (to visit Ben), Salzburg (yay Sound of Music tour!), and, god willing, Istanbul over Thanksgiving break. And Stephen and Em will both be visiting. And maybe Veronica. I’ve got a crazy schedule, but I love it!

Random thoughts for the week:

-Youth in Austria (and all of Europe for that matter) are for the most part obnoxious punks. It’s seriously a whole culture here that breeds little jerks. They start drinking at 14 or 15, yell cusswords and insults at strangers, spit on old and/or homeless people, and are all around irritating. I can’t stand them.

-My roommates and I have gone through 4 of the commercial size jugs of Nutella so far. I am such an addict.

-I am becoming slightly obsessed with Baroque architecture. It’s absolutely everywhere here in Vienna.

-Polly added it up, and she, Natalie, and I have spent about 17 hours in Viennese cafes thus far. Our goal is make it add up to a week. :)

-I really love reading other people’s travel blogs. I get to experience Nairobi, Cairo, Australia Paris, Klagenfurt, Copenhagen, etc. without having to leave my bedroom!

-When you take students from America (drinking age 21) and put them in Europe (drinking age 16), people turn into major alcoholics. And go clubbing and drinking like every night of the week. It’s really, really irritating. I feel so abnormal when I want to stay home or go somewhere non-alcohol related. Fortunately, I’ve found some people that will do that with me. But the whole culture of American students drinking all the time is really frustrating.

-Tina Fey is hot. Especially when she’s making fun of Palin.

That’s all for now! Sorry it’s so long!

To see pictures click here!