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Friday, February 26, 2010

Day 8 and 9-Universität für Bodenkultur Wien, will you be my friend? February 24 and 25

Day 8
After a day of just sitting around in our room, not spending any money, it was time to go to our university for the welcome days for the international students. We went into the main lecture room, which was the size of a small room at Purdue, and had the heads of each divisions talk to us, and got some general information. Pretty much a waste of time, but the good thing was the breaks in between. There I met many new people, including a group of Australians, a guy from Atlanta, a guy from Prague, and a guy from Croatia. We took a tour of the campus and then afterwards decided to go out with the guys I met today later on that night at Loco Club. So I went back took a shower and got ready for a GREAT night. Addison, Ben(the guy from Atlanta), and I went to Loco. The Australians and Croatian weren't there yet so we got a couple of drinks and waited. After a while the group showed up+ a couple of Australian girls. We drank, sang karaoke(terribly I might add), and had the best night I have had since being in Vienna. I really bonded with everyone in the group. After the bar got incredibly crowded we decided to go to Flex, a bar on the other side of town. After taking a few trains and passing some sketchy drug dealers outside of the bar we finally make it, but it was empty. Addison, Ben, Petar ( go from Croatia), and I decide to go home, while the Aussies want to keep drinking. The problem with going home, was we really didn't know where we were, and in which direction home was. After some useless directions form a british guy, we find some girls from Munich, who point us in the right direction. We find the train that will take us back, but it stopped running at 12:30. So we find a taxi and make it home. Again, it was an amazing night, with people I had just met. It was really cool to be with people form all over the world, and for it to be like you have known each other your whole life. Quite an experience, one crazy night.

Day 9

So we missed the tour of downtown, which wasn't that big of a deal, since Addison and I had already seen it many times. The most important thing was to get to the wine and dinner party for the incoming international students. Addison and I get ready and head for the bus. It doesn't come. So we have to find another way to this place. 45 minutes later riding on 4 trains and 2 buses we finally make it there. Of course all of the seats where taken so Addison and I had to pull a kids table up next to a table of girls whom we had never met. After a couple of wine spritzers and a DELICIOUS traditional dinner and dessert, we make many friends at the table. A girl from Verona, Italy, one from Brno, Czech Republic, 2 from Poland, and one girl from Toulouse, France. It is just really cool how many people form all around the world I am meeting and feeling very comfortable with. This is really the experience of a life time. It is something that will never be outdone in my life no matter what it is. It is such a growing experience. Anyway, after the meal the whole group goes to a bar, which was full of smoke and not that entertaining. So a group of Canadians, and a girl from West Virginia, Addison, and I try to make our way back home. TRY. Once again it is passed 12:30 and the buses/trains we usually take aren't running. After walking for about a a half an hour we got on one bus, that took us maybe a half a mile and got off. Then after walking another 45 minutes to an hour we make it home. I have really got to figure out this night bus situation all of this late night walking is killing me. I am going to Salzburg with Thomas and staying at his family's farm. I am really looking forward to this. So until then.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 6- The Sky Feb. 22

So Addison and I decided to keep going past the town of Grinsing and see what else we could find. After traveling on a winding brick road a while we come to a look out point. A look out point over the entire city. We get off the bus, walk to the edge and take some pictures over a vineyard. We then look to our left and see something else even farther up the mountain. After exploring the little town a little, which consisted of a couple of restaurants and a couple more buildings, we jump back on the bus keep climbing the mountain. We come up to a university, old church, hotel, and an even more amazing view of the city. WE took some pictures, and decided to explore this area a little bit. WE saw a trail going into the woods with a sing saying Hutte something 8 minutes. While looking off the point we saw what looked like a small castle built into the hill, so we thought this trail might lead to it. We started running down the hill through this trail, then came to a large opening, which in the spring would be a large grass field. At the top of this grassy hill was a little picturesque building with a small that made me hungrier than I have been in a while, we look around at it from the outside, promising that we would come back, and then started looking for a bus stop to go to the castle. We found one and started waiting, when a man walking back from the direction of the bus, started saying something to us in German. Sprechen sie Englisch? Yes, the bus does not come here. I have been waiting too, but it only comes in holiday seasons. WE asked him if there was a castle in the direction he came from, he said yes he just walked from there, but it is too far to get to before dark. So we walk back with this man through the wooded trail and back to the lookout point. I ask him where are some other great spots outside of the city to go to. He tells me about two other really good trails, one through a vineyard, and one through some large forests south west of the city. I am really looking forward to going to these places soon. Also I asked him where some great restaurants are. He pointed back to the hut at the top of the grassy hill that had the tantalizing smells surrounding it, begging for you to come in. He says, that is the best restaurant around. So, I am DEFINITELY going back to this spot. After riding the bus back down the hill to Vienna, with our new friend showing us the trails he described earlier on the map, Addison and I thank him and get on our train to go home. Addison and I are REALLY getting good at getting lost and finding AMAZING places. I have found SO many places I want to take Whitney and my parents when they come. I can't wait to share my treasures. I don;t think I am going to do much tomorrow, I am tired of paying for 24 hour passes for the trains/buses. So I am going to wait till I get my 4 month pass to do some more exploring. So I probably won't write anything for a couple of days. BUT maybe Salzburg, skiing, and a mountainous farm this weekend. I really hope we do that this weekend. I'll write later.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 5- SUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Feb. 21

WOW what an AMAZING day. I woke up with the sun SHINING in my face. I LOVED IT. So I took a shower, made breakfast and hit the trains. Addison and I went to Stephans Platz where all of the museums and old churches are. We went into the Biggest church right in the square and it was mind blowing. I know I said this with the palace, but the time, care, knowledge, artistic ability, everything is just unbelievable. It truly is amazing that these were built so long ago. What are we building now? Nothing compared to what they built before they had machinery to do so. Why is that? It makes no sense to me, it is like we are going backwards almost. Everything is focused on technology and science now. What about true art, in what ever form it may be? Anyway I got some good pictures of that place, Then we went into another large church a little off the beaten path and went inside, and we were the only two in it. It was really a special moment. It was like stepping back in time. Think of what I have seen already, and to blown away by these when I go in them. Now think of when they were first built. People from the country side that had never seen more than a few huts, to come into the city and walk into that church. I can't imagine how overwhelming it was for them. It makes sense though. Make them look God like, to make common people believe. Anyway I just thought it was cool. We came back and ate lunch then decided to travel to the outskirts of town. We found our new favorite part of town. It is called Grisling. It is what I pictured a small Austrian town to be. It was beautiful. It had little restaurants everywhere, with beer gardens for the spring. There where wine taverns with large wine vineyards behind it. It was just perfect. I think we will be going there a lot. After we got back we met up with our "Buddy", Thomas. He had been in Paris since we got there, but he just got back. We met him at a little restaurant/brewery. He helped us find our classes, which I will get to in a minute, and told us a TON about traveling. He has been to almost every country in Europe. PERFECT match for us. He is going to take us to Salzburg this weekend to go skiing and to see his family farm. Which by the way you can stay at if you would like. Anyway I think we are driving in his car to his house, skiing for one day and going to salzburg for a while. He has so much information about traveling it is GREAT. I am really looking forward to spending more time with him. SO about classes, I am really excited and really nervous at the same time. Here is the deal I am going to be taking 8-10 classes. Sounds like a lot right? Well my longest class is only 2 weeks Monday through thursday for three hours each day. Some classes are a week. Some are just 2 days. It sounds amazing and Thomas said that we should not have any problem with classes. He is getting his masters here and has been here for 6 years. So he should know. I am still not convinced yet, because it sounds to good to be true. The way I am looking at my schedule some weeks I will have nothing, some weeks I will have a couple of classes that entire week. At the most I will have we will say eight classes for the entire week. Nothing on Friday. I am not sure how it all works, but everybody tells me it is REALLY easy. Another thing is that the Austrian government pays for your education. Austrians only have to pay 20 Euros plus 40-50 Euros for books. If I was to transfer to the school I would have to pay 300 Euros plus 40-50 for books. THAT IS CRAZY!!!!!! We spend thousands every semester and they pay nothing. Why can't our government do that? Why are we so stressed and unhappy with our lives? I really think we have what we are doing backwards. I am really considering coming here for a masters. FInancially it would not make sense to got to an American school. I have to check with people back in the states to see how it transfers, but if it does, then I don't know why not. Anyway we will see. I am really getting my eyes opened to a lot of things here. I can't wait to find out how everything really works here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 5- Royalty Time Feb. 21

So after waking up Addison and I decided to go to the Royal Palace. We hopped on the bus and arrived at the Schloss Schonbrunn. We walked around the grounds for a while, which were AMAZING. It was truly amazing what people had back in the day. The thought and care that went in to making this was impeccable. We took a tour went through some parts of the palace. A few facts: When Edison invented the lightbulb, the emperor had him come over and it took edison's company 9 years to install lights in the entire palace. They had a square mile as there back yard gardens. Well a half a square mile was gardens, the other was a hunting grounds. The palace's main dining hall can be rented out for anyone who is interested. For a low price of 20,000 Euros you can have it all to yourself. Plus food and Drinks. It is pretty amazing though with 5 frescoes and giant mirrors through the whole room. Anyway after the tour we went to the backyard, and walked around which is actually pretty neat, because it is just a park now that you can get into for free. AFter that we came back and walked down a street near us to find places to buy things. We found LIBRO, where we can buy school supplies. BILLA which is a much nicer grocery store than Hofer, the Aldi's, and we also fond the post office. Quite a productive day of exploring. I am really starting to get worried that the sun won't come out here. I haven't seen a glimpse of the sun since I got here. I never realized how much it affected my mood, but it really does. I hope I can see it soon. Anyway I am going to bed. Good night and Good day.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 4- Once Again, Where Are We? February 18

So, today was the day that we were to go to our University, Universitat fur Bodenkultur. Addison and I get up at 9:15, make breakfast, and got on the train to go to the school. After riding the train for about 15 minutes, Addison and I realize we are not where we thought we were. WE WENT THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE WAY! The train got to the end of its line and stopped for a bit before it turned around. We got out and had a little chat with the driver, who told us to stay on, go back 6 stops, get off, and get on a bus. WE NEEDED A BUS NOT A TRAIN!! Just when I thought we were figuring this thing out we go and do something like that. Anyway after some backtracking and switching to a bus we make it to BOKU. I actually really like the campus. There is a large park next to it that will be beautiful in the spring, with its waterfall and pond. There are many old buildings that make up the campus. It has an enrollment of around 8,000 with 200 of them being international students. We met up with Max, the man we had been communicating with for the last few months, and he did not look like I was expecting him to. I was expecting a skinny, frail man, very quite and kind. Instead Max was a large, hardy man. With a hardy laugh and a firm handshake. He had a great personality and was a very nice man. He spent three years in Georgia to finish he masters, and new a lot about the U.S. After going through registry, and talking about many things it was time for us to go. So Addison and I walked around campus for awhile, just to look around, then hopped back on the bus. We got home and took a nap, we still are not completely adapted to the time difference. We then wake up make dinner and go back to the downtown area to look around some more. After taking some pictures we head back to our flat to see what Mauro is doing tonight. He was busy doing other things, so Addison and I stayed in for the night. I CAN'T GO TO SLEEP!!! After talking to Whitney on Skype, which is an amazing invention, I don't know what I would do without it..... I miss her already. This is going to be a long 4 1/2 months. Anyway, I am not going to get into that yet. After our talk I watched some TV and finally got to bed around 1:30. I can't take a nap tomorrow, that is what is screwing me up. OK Good Night to me, good day to you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 3- Where are we? Feb. 18

So Addison and I decided to wander today and find our way around town. We woke up, made some breakfast, and started walking. We walked past a couple of high schools getting out. Found a few churches, some old libraries, and my outdoor supple store that I will be frequenting(Northland Professional). We found our way around town a little more, but more importantly= I realized that I am terrible at german. I feel like I know more than I think I do. I can read it, and when I am watching TV I can make out quite a bit, but when I get to conversing with an Austrian, I just freeze. It is terrible. I am really going to work on my German a lot here. I want to be able to be really helpful when my parents and Whitney come over in June. I have to just relax and listen, to what phrases they mostly say and then go from there. Anyway, we went to Aldi's and got some food for dinner and lunch. I got some chips, ham, pork chops, soup, salt and pepper, orange juice, and potatoes. I think it will hold me off for a week or two. We came back, took a shower, and got ready to go out with Mauro, our roommate. So I was ready, but Addison was waiting for his bag to get here. It finally did and we started to leave. When we were leaving we met one of our neighbors, who turns out to be Canadian. She seems really nice, I am glad I am meeting so many people. It's nice. Anyway by the time we rode three different trains we were late to meet Mauro, but the good thing was that where were going to meet him was the downtown part of Vienna, which Addison and I had not been yet. So we strolled around and found some more beautiful buildings. The ritzy stores like Burberry, Gucci, Vera Bradly, Rolex and such. A lot of cool bars and restaurants, and the occasional show club. But really though, it was gorgeous. This is how I pictured Vienna. I can't wait to go back to this part. Anyway tomorrow we are going to go find our school, BOKU, and register for classes. Auf Wierdersehen.

Day 2- Willkommen Feb. 17

So after a lazy morning staying in bed Addison and I pack up and head back to the airport. It was amazing how nice the airport looked in the daylight. The night before it looked dark and dingy. Not a place I would want to stay in for very long. Today it looked bright and inviting. I think the fact that I was dead tired, hungry, and frustrated with the fact that nothing was going right might have had an influence on my dark and dreary disposition. Anyway we had lunch at Potbellies in the airport and waited for 4 hours for our plane. After an uneventful 9 hour plane flight over the Atlantic, watching one somewhat boring movie, and getting maybe two hours of terrible sleep, we arrive in Austria. FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE get off and go get our bags. I get both of my bags, Addison gets one. Imagine that. So we go to the baggage claim and figure out if it came or what was up. Good news-they know where it is. Bad news- it's in America. They say it will show up tomorrow. SO we leave wondering how it is that we are gonna get to where we are staying, when we really don't know where it is. Luckily our new friend Shaiya, who is from Yemen, and knew Jessica, the last purdue student to come to Vienna, is there to show the way. He takes us to a bus, then to a train, then to another train, then we walk a few blocks and go down an alley and into a courtyard, then into the office. NEVER would have found that without him. NEVER.... Then we get back on a train and walk to our apartment. After some confusion of which room was ours, we finally find the right room, and go in. By this time it is around noon in Vienna, and we wake up our new Italian roommate who goes directly to get coffee. It looked like he had a fun night last night, lets just say that. We talk to him for about 10 minutes about where we are form and where he is from, then he hops in the shower and is off to school. Shaiya takes us to the supermarket, which turns out to be an Aldi's, we get some essentials, then go back and sleep for a couple of hours. I wake up, unpack and take a shower. Addison and I venture out to an ATM, grab some cash. Well I grab some cash. Addison's card doesn't work. He is not having the best of luck. Anyway we go and get some food at a pizzeria, it is the only thing around and we didn't feel sure enough to get lost already. So we come back and eat our food, then Shaiya comes and takes us out to the Ride Club. We meet up with two of his friends, and go to the club. It was a pretty sweet club. There weren't that many people there, but it was a Wednesday night. Everybody kept telling us that on Monday night this place is amazing. Anyway after a few biers and a little singing and dancing with my new Yemenis friends, I am ready to go to bed. Addison and I say our goodbyes and give our thanks and head out on our first solo Vienna train ride. Big Stuff. We make to the first train and some girl comes up to me asking things in German. I couldn't understand anything, so i asked her if she spoke english. She said, o thank god, I am form New York. We started a conversation and found out that one of the guys she was with was from Purdue. YAY we made some more friends. Friends that we could speak with. We talked a while on the train, then we got off and waited for another train. I got a delicious lamb sandwich from a street food vendor and got on our second train. We got off and made it to our place. We actually got back without getting lost. After a fun talk with Whitney and her roommate Elaina, I was off to bed. I am really looking forward to wandering around tomorrow and trying to find my way around the city. I really want to feel at home here. It is coming, can feel it, but it is gonna take some time. So I will tell you how it goes. Good night.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 1- Hell Frozen Over Feb.15

Of course I started to pack at 6:00 pm the night before my 6 month trip to Europe. After downsizing switching suitcases, downsizing, switching suitcases, my wonderful girlfriend Whitney, whom I have been dating for close to 4 years, coming up with clever ways to pack things, and then switching suitcases once more, i finally got done at 3 in the morning. Just a little side note, Every 20 minutes or so Whitney and I would take a kiss break and give each other a kiss. I think we were both dreading the thought of not being able to touch for 4 and a half months. So that also hindered my packing process. Anyway with two checked bags at about 45lbs. and one carry on at about 30lbs. After getting 3 hours of sleep I had to get up and do chores, since my dad had shoulder surgery a little over a month ago. After working in the hog barns and in the heavy snow for a couple of hours, it was time to come in and get ready to go to the airport. I took a shower, woke Whitney up, made breakfast for the two of us and my dad, and finished all of the last minute things I needed to do. We got the bags in the car and headed to the airport, in the snow. Stopped by Walgreens and got my last minute H1N1 shot with my Dad, who stripped down and was walking around the walgreens with his shirt unbuttoned until he got his shot. After driving about an hour we got to the airport. Addison, my buddy through this adventure walked in right behind me as if we had left Walgreens at the same time. We meet the family, normal small talk, and get our 4 bags checked. We have about an hour to waste so we decide to have dinner with our families. We ate and then went to the security checkpoint, where I tried to steal as many kisses from Whitney at the last second as I could. Whitney slipped me a book that I had wanted to read that she had put some memories of us in. She told me not to lose it. After saying my goodbyes to my parents, and me getting as many kisses in as I could at the last minute, Addison and I took off through security and started walking to the plane, only to hear Addison’s name being called, we were late. We made it to the gate, and got on the plane, but all of the overhead bins were full, so we had to gate check our bags. I forgot about the book in the rush and left it in the bag. Nevertheless we got on the plane and got in our seats. Did I mention it had been snowing all morning? Because of this our plane had to be deiced. So after about 25-30 minutes of a man, whom I am guessing was being paid by the hour, spraying the plane with a water hose we were off. Right?, wrong. Washington, which we were flying through, was at a ground stop because of the snow. So we would get another update in 40 minutes. 40 minutes later we were getting off of the plane, because it had been extended for 1 hour and 45minutes. So we waited, I tried to get us booked on another connecting flight, but of course there was only one person working at the gate and I waited in line for the hour and a half we were out there. Meanwhile, my parents, Addison’s parents, and Whitney, were waiting in the airport to see if they would have to take us home while a fire alarm went off, causing them to evacuate into the freezing cold snowy winter day. They got back in from the snow and we started to board again. After another lazy deicing we were off down the runway. It was hard to see anything out the window through the snow, but what we did see was a 747 stopped in the middle of the runway with its stairs down. REALLY reassuring. We take off. WOOOOHOOOO. We land and have to walk outside to the airport. FREEZING. After walking to the other end of the airport, what seemed to be like 10 miles, we come to realize that we missed our connecting flight. Imagine that. SOOOOO we turn around and start walking back to where we came from. We got in line at a costumer service desk, waited about 30 minutes, then were told we needed to go to the other end of the airport. We have stared walking with three 40some year old army guys from Camp Atterbury. None of them looked like army guys, but they were nice. So after another hike across the airport and a quick train ride to another terminal we make it to the right costumer service desk. GIANT LINE. After about an hour waiting in that line I am about ready to drop of exhaustion. Remember I am running on 3 hours of sleep and have hiked what seemed to be the entire AT, indoors. Anyway we get to the desk and find out we are staying in Washington over night, and we weren’t going to get our accommodations paid for. We were offered a free room with one of our older army friends, but I am pretty sure a trip to the strip club was involved in the event from the way he was acting in the airport. I was too tired to even look at boobs that night. So I called my good friend and brother-in-law, Cody, who works at Marriot to see if we can get a deal at a Marriot nearby. He hooks us up and it is time to try to find the spot that the bus picks us up to go to the hotel. We get outside and see that it is at the other end of the ground transportation area. OF COURSE IT IS. After another hike we wait in the cold for 15 minutes and the bus picks us up. We get checked in call our parents and are in bed in minutes. That’s how our trip, started. I’m not complaining. It was a good experience to have to work through it, so when I have to do it in a different language it won’t be as bad. I just hope we don’t have to run into it too many times. So until tomorrow for now.