Saturday, September 13, 2008

The first week

Wow, so much has happened in the past few days and I haven’t had any time. I’m looking forward slightly for the normal routine to kick in because I am exhausted.

On Wednesday night we moved into our host family’s apartment. Alex and her son came to pick us up. I am so happy she was so determined to fit all our bags and all of us into her tiny European car. It was cramped but we made it. Her apartment is on the 3rd floor and like most places here, does not have an elevator. They’re actually in the middle of putting one in right now. After Marinda and I struggled to get our heavy bags up most of the way, the nice elevator-worker-guys came to the rescue and had our suitcases up in no time.

This is the sign that greeted us on the door to our room.

We unpacked a bit and then took a walk with Alex, Issak and Cyra(the dog). We went to pick up her daughter, Marie-Louis and then went grocery shopping for dinner. Dinner was good….very Austrian: Bread, Meats, Cheese, Tomatoes. I found in the following days that that is pretty much the day-to-day food here, no matter the meal and there are lots of places to get it. Our host family is great. Alex served a mission in Temple Square so she is fluent in English. Actually, she speaks English all the time, whether it’s with us or teaching her kids. It’s maybe not so good for us. We’re trying to break that habit before it’s too late. There is another student here from Utah. She is not with our program, she just always wanted to go abroad and now she is taking German classes at a school here. She’s been here 2 weeks and doesn’t speak any German. She’s really nice, but we’re worried that we are going to be speaking too much English.

Thursday was the first day of classes. We just had our cultural class with Prof. Brewer and then we had German. Our German class is combined with 201. We have different work and the lessons plans are switching the levels every other day. Thursday was a 201 day and it was a bit boring but a really good review.

After school, Marinda and I came back and hung out with our host mom. She is so nice and has become a good friend. Then we got to meet her Dad, who speaks more German to us, so we like when he is around. Then Marinda and I decided to go get eis from Schweden Platz. Oh man was it good! We’ll definitely be going back.

We saw these awesome street performers infront of the ice cream shop.

Then we decided to wander around. We found our way to Stephansdom and we didn’t even use a map and we didn’t get lost! We had a lot of fun exploring the city.


Friday morning we got up super early to meet our group to go to Bratislava. If you didn’t know, Bratislava is about an hour away from Vienna by train and is the capitol of Slovakia. We a tour guide named Ivanna and she showed us all around the Oldtown of Bratislava and we got to learn all about its history and legends. Bratislava is unique. It’s very old, and you can see it. Some of the buildings didn’t look very well kept and then others you can tell had been refinished. I loved learning about the buildings and the old city called Perbern. While I loved the city, I think my favorite part was hearing Ivanna’s feelings on the way the US and other countries treat Slovaks. She has lived through socialism and communism and the way the US screens her if she wishes to get a visa reminds her of how she was treated during that time. She doesn’t understand why people are so afraid of her. It was an eye opening experience for all of us students.

Marinda and I at St. Michaels Gate in Bratislava

Even though we aren’t speaking all that much German at home, I know my German is getting somewhat better. On our trip to Bratislava, I was with a lot of students who were trying to speak all German. There are certain phrases that just naturally come out in German. I even almost started writing this auf Deustch!

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