Sunday, February 20, 2011

Alles Gute in Österreich!

So, already my 3rd day in Austria - where has the time gone? I thought I would have time to post a blog the day that I left Florida, or the day after, but noo... too much excitement=not enough time! Haha.

To fill you in:
    Lufthansa is not as great as everyone says, unless you have millions of dollars or thousands of sky-miles and can afford a $5,000-$10,000 ticekt for business or first class. Cramped seats, no foot space, no individual tvs. We Americans really are spoiled, this is true per our American airlines, they are the epitome of 'American-comfort'. But I will say, Lufthansa had better food.
    If you fly to Frankfurt for a connecting flight, make sure you have well over an hour, probably two between flights. There are 4 terminals, and to travel between them takes 2 or 3 security checkpoints as well as multiple staircases, a long underground tunnel, and sometimes a bus-service out to the plane.
    AND even though Lufthansa has a near-monopoly over service at the Frankfurt airport, they were not able to find a way to get my bags to my next plane, even though I found my way. Das ist schlecht.

Anyways, it is so good to be back in Austria! It really has become another home to me (along with Orlando and Jacksonville), the places and faces are very familiar, I could almost find my way around.
    To anyone who has never been to Austria, I really recommend it. But don't stay in the cities - just visit for the day, or maybe two, and then travel through the countryside. It is more beautiful & with more history. Also, the people are much more kind, though you may want to bring a German translation pocketbook with you, in the farmlands not everyone speaks such good English, unless it is a young(er) person. Every house you go to there is food - and lots of it. Fresh! From the gardens, or freshly baked, even in winter and every day.
    Slowly my German is getting better, on the weekends (wochenenden) everyone is at home so I have been visiting with a lot of family. The older family are helping me practice my German, whereas some of the younger ones either are too shy to speak with me at all or want to practice their English. In Austria, the German is a dialect that is much different than what you would here in Berlin, Hamburg, or even Frankfurt. It is most close to the Bavern, or Bavarian, dialect which is an old-farmers language. Spoken so quickly, I cannot unerstand anything. It has been a lesson in patience and confidence - to sit at a table and know nothing of what is being said. Or when there is an awkward silence because no one knows what to say and they are aware you are there. Ich weiß nicht (I don't know, or, I know not)... but, I am learning (without school), so this is good. :)
    It is not as cold as I thought it would be, there is only froyen patches of snow on the ground here in Unterschützen. However, on the way here from Vienna, we passed through the Steiermark, and everything was white! The hills & mountains & trees and it was so so gorgeous! I've never seen anything like this in my life except in photos or the movies. SO beautiful! I hope to actually go out in some place like this before it warms up or I leave!
    Ah, last note, and then I will stop babbling. In order for my bags to be in weight, I left out my pea-coat, or nice black coat because it is so heavy and yet not as warm as the ski jacket I borrowed from a friend. HOWEVER, it is really obvious that this is a ski jacket. And did I forget to mention that it is purple? Yes, lavendar and dark purple. Now, I love the color purple, and I truly appreciate the warmth, BUT the looks I got when I went to the bar with my cousins were... well, far from flattering. One might describe the scene as if seeing the Purple-People-Eater walk in and sit down for a drink. (I am not exagerrating.) This is no offense to that jacket, but merely to that fact that I made the choice to wear it out to a bar. Oy-yay....
So, until next time....

Monday, February 14, 2011

In the midst of it all...

It is now 4(!) days out from departure. AH!
    Friday, I got to catch up with an amazing old friend who I couldnt be more proud of, and then I had a few awesomely wonderful friends drive all the way down from Jax just to spend a couple of hours hangin and dancin at Cowboys even though it was totally dead! I couldn't believe it, but it was actually really fun (Cowboys always is, this just proves it!) the rest of the crowd that night was a hoot to be around. I am really lucky to have such great friends.
    Things are coming together, but with every item checked off the list, there seems to be another one appearing. However, in the midst of it all, I seem to be keeping a level head. It's been crazy, don't get me wrong, and when I think about it for too long the anxiety and nervous-excitement definitely build, BUT I'm not worried. Maybe a little stressed, but not worried. I'm confident I'll be packed in time (within the weight limit) and have (most) of my paperwork in order... so hears to hoping!
    For those of you who know of my recent adventures with packing... I did get talked into bringing my backpack. So if anyone knows anyone else traveling in the Orlando, Frankfurt, or Vienna airports, or riding the DeutscheBahn in the next 1-2 weeks, they might tell you that they saw the most hilarious thing: "I saw this thing pulling 2 suitcases with another bag under it's arm, it was moving rather slow hunched over with a big hump on the back - I swear that it was a Turtle! Looked just like it - Imagine! A turtle carrying luggage through the airport (on a train)!"
UGH. Backpacks.
No offense to anyone that has a backpack, but I am just [obviously] not a fan.
    Now, besides that. I believe I have just spent 2.5 hours with my sister's tech-savvy boyfriend getting my phone set up to work in Europe. I'm not exactly sure how it works... all of the paperwork and prompts are in German! Haha, but soon enough I will know it by myself, no translation needed! Thanks again to my Amazing friends, Simeon & Julia, for thinking ahead for me :).
    Next on the checklist: [Lightweight, waterproof, non-slip, breathable boots = Check. You have no idea how hard these are to find.] Wake up reeeallly early (not today) and go get my 21-yr-old license =). Then get my International Driver's License. Then, back up (NOT move) files on external hard-drive, for safe keeping. And Email, Email, Pack, Email, Pack, Pack, Email, And Pack some more.
    I can't decide whether I am bringing too much, or not enough. As it is, I'll be buying quite a few things over there, but I'm beginning to think I need to downsize my items again (despite the 6 times I've already done it), juuuust in case. Maybe I'll post pictures of the before and after.

Goodness, where has the time gone.

    Please, pray/ask for patience and some extra-amazing organization skills for me. Or some sort of epiphany that I should go with only the clothes on my back! 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sweet Caroline/Don't Stop Believin/Heal the World/Forever & Ever Amen

      Oldies = Goodies, in the way of: Old friends, classic rock, original country, first pet, first car, etc. I have been reunited with a few of these during my time at home, or at least had instances which remind me of them. It really goes to show, that although some things you can't get back, as long as you maintain and update the things you still have, they stick around for a long time. :) (Reminds me of the song "Shoebox" by Chris Young. Check it out.) Catching up with friends, I once again realize how lucky I am to know such people that are motivated, genuinely happy, and well in a few cases, genius.
       During this past week at home I have come to enjoy walking to the store to pick things up for my parents, including other errands like the bank and pharmacy. I guess its good practice for Germany :). I've also gone for a couple of runs and a bike ride, and spent some much-needed time playing with the dogs. I envy how excited they get over the simplest of things. I am going to miss having them keep me warm.. but I won't miss the 6:37a.m. daily wake-up call that they so lovingly utilize in order to trick me out of bed space. Needless to say, I love the mutts (term of endearment).
      There have been some hurdles to jump over while being home, and more than anything, my patience has been tested. When I am in school and working, I can focus on exactly what needs to be worked on, and what I need to work on personally, be it patience or what. But, at home, with so many distractions it has been more difficult to keep in mind my daily practices of patience and mindfulness. And it's most obvious when my parents... well, when they act like my parents (questioning and bossy). They have every right to do so, but needless to say, I am working harder than ever on patience vs. reaction. And one day, just like countless other things in my life, I will appreciate my parents for their [inadvertent] "training."
       And to be honest, it's been a bit of a challenge to keep myself prioritized. Each day is different rather than being on a set schedule, so there has been much more free-time, and much less obligations. I don't know what to do with it! I'm much more organized when busy, haha. Regardless, there has been so much to do to get ready to leave. And even more to do once I get there. No one tells you about all the fine print associated with each little step (Then again, when have they ever?); insurance, scholarships, paying tuition after credit conversion, exchange rates, visa, residency, housing, passport, flight, luggage, luggage restrictions, train timetables, class approval, credit conversion, phone numbers, bank accounts, and lets not forget trying to fit everything u could possibly need for 6 months into 2 bags. However daunting this seems though, it cannot cap the sheer excitement of actually being able to do this. I can't wait! (At the very least, to finish packing!)