As midterm tests are now over and the weather begins to cool down considerably, I am reminded that my semester here in Austria is about halfway over.
So far, it feels like I have been here forever.
I can hardly imagine coming home “soon”… or ever, at this point. It just seems so far away! My weeks are so long and my weekends are so busy that I can hardly imagine that my time is halfway gone.
Frau B. asked me yesterday if I was ready to go home yet, and I responded with an enthusiastic “No way!!” (in German, of course)
Here are some glimpses of Austrian life for me in the middle of the semester:
Cooking– yes, I still find time to cook for myself and try out new Austrian recipes!
Here I attempted a classic Austrian ragout, and of course I added double the amount of vegetables called for. Gotta get those nutrients!
Making the ragout was actually very complicated and took a very long time. I ended up using nearly every dish in the kitchen, which made for a REALLY fun cleanup (without a dishwasher).
And, like always, I burned the rice.
I burned the rice so badly this time that it was stuck to the bottom in a layer of gross crusty mess.
The part that wasn’t burned made a very good addition to the ragout. :)
A little while ago, I took a weekend trip to the southern Austrian student town of Graz.
Graz is a gorgeous little place completely devoid of tourist activity… which is wonderful for people like me who can’t stand packs of tourists, but also stinks for people like me who are traveling alone.
The bottom line is, there’s just not much to do in Graz!
After wandering the streets for hours aimlessly looking for things to do, I ended up asking for help from a couple of incredibly nice students who invited me to accompany them for their entire evening.
We went for dinner at a cheap and delicious student restaurant, met up with five other amazing friends, went “Sturmtrinken” (my absolute favorite alcoholic beverage… Sturm is a super-sweet young wine that’s very sweet and usually sparkling), and climbed up to the clocktower to view the city lights at night.
Graz alone was a complete bore, but Graz with friends was a joy!
I have officially learned two lessons about traveling on your own: Always have plenty planned just in case you get bored. And, every city really is what you make of it.
Side note: I officially tried “Maroni” (roasted chestnuts) for the first time! They are sold at these little stands all over Austria in the fall. They weren’t my favorite thing to eat and I gave most of them away, but it was so worth it to stroll down the main drag eating my chestnuts and humming Christmas carols to myself.
Anybody who knows me knows that I am obsessed with music boxes… and bells of all kinds!
That same weekend I took a morning to tour the music box of Salzburg: the Glockenspiel on Residenzplatz!
I absolutely loved viewing the huge clockwork-innards of the music box, learning about its history, and hearing its songs ring out from the top of the bell tower. Plus, the view from up there was amazing!
Speaking of views…
Here in Austria, I’ve had my share of mountaintop experiences: some literal, and some emotional.
I have had my highs and lows. I have felt lonely, anxious, restless, and scared. But I have also felt elated, ecstatic, content, and in love.
Traveling is a big mixed bag of surprises and adventures.
I am so lucky to be here, and I am so excited that I still have a month and a half left to go!
“You are, at this moment, standing right in the middle of your own “acres of diamonds.”
– Earl Nightingale