Monday, January 30, 2012

World Update:

Dear World,

I don't know if you knew this but I am pretty certain that I have fallen in love. Hard. Realllllly hard. I love Vienna. And I love my whole group. And I love my school. And I love my roommate. And I love my host family. And I love my books even (imagine that). And I love going to school. And I love love love the public transportation system. And I love wearing boots. And I love the brisk weather. And I love my teachers. And I love love love German. And I love what I am studying here. And I love music. And I love everything that I'm doing.

Ps. I know this sounds like one of those silly testimonies being born on a fast-Sunday.'s how I feel. So deal with it. :)


I love everything this much.
If not more.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bieber Fieber

The title has nothing to do with people's obsession with the well-known American Justin Bieber, in fact...little teeny-bopper Bieber doesn't even exist here, what a breath of fresh air. The title is just for the fact that it actually rhymes in this country. Yay for new languages!

Updates in list form, because my fingers are tired of typing. (blame my overload of classes here, not Brendon or my Mother, they're innocent)

The other day, we met Henriette Lersch. She's the famous violin maker from the I am a Mormon videos. She was amazing, and quite tall as well.
Ps. note, that whomever took this picture hates angles. I look disproportionate and a little bit like a burnt marshmallow. Don't judge too much.
1. Wednesday night Adriana and I went to Institute at the Outreach Center here in Vienna, we met a bunch of lovely people, and have made fast friends. We even used our minimal Deutsch on them, but...they covered their ears when they heard our accents. So much for becoming fluent. Important note: We met a sweet girl named Sian, from London, she was here visiting. And we set up a breakfast date with her for Thursday morning before she had to leave town.

Stephensdom. The pivotal center of Vienna.

Sometimes, when you're walking down the street, you almost get run over by wild and famous Lipizzaner stallions.

Check out the eyes. Someone has imagination, and guts.

The oldest church. Ever. 

2. Thursday we met for breakfast at "the best bakery in all of Vienna" according to Gregor, a young man from the institute. Mr. Gregor is going to need to tell me what to get next time, because I was slightly less than impressed.

3. After our music history class Adriana and I decided to hit up the Belvedere Palace. Which was the summer palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy. Talk about elaborate. That place is amazing. Also, pictures are NOT allowed inside, so enjoy these fine pieces of prohibited documentation of the palace. And they had Gustav Klimt in there. Not the dead artist, but a lot of his work, including the infamous "The Kiss" painting. I love it already, but to see the real deal in person was quite moving. In fact, the whole museum was amazing. Well worth my moolah spent.

The Belvedere! 

Velvet covered exercise balls.
Some people get all the perks.

A prohibited picture:
Check out the blood flow from the neck. 
 4. Today! January 27th. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birthday. What a fitting place to celebrate such a fine man, right? News flash: Vienna doesn't actually celebrate this holiday, nor do they have festivals and parades or even posters to commemorate the birth of a prodigy. BUT, we American's celebrated from sun up until sun down. Everything Mozart'y we did today:
- Looked on a map at where Mozart was birthed.
- Went to a little concert hall where Mozart performed.
- Went to Mozart's home where he composed "The Marriage of Figaro"
- Went to Mozart's home where he died.
- Went to the last concert hall Mozart ever performed in.
- Went to the church where his requiem was played two days after his death.
- Went to a statue of Mozart, dedicated to Mozart, and posed by Mozart.
- Stepped foot in the Mozart Cafe.
- Went to a memorial for him in the prettiest and coziest cemetery I've ever stepped foot in.
- Saw The Magic Flute, composed by Mozart.

Don't worry. I took pictures. For the sake of Mother, who claims that I don't exist over here in Vienna.
Where Mozart performed. You can see the Stephansdom behind it.

A pretty gate.
This was supposed to be a group picture, but no one got in it with us.
I swear we really do hang out with our group.

Proof to my mother that I exist here in Vienna.

Some Happy Birthday lovin' to Mr. Mozart.

5. Also, best story so far. I realize it's only been a week, but it feels like months. Here goes:

We went to the Volks Opera tonight to see The Magic Flute. Composed by Mozart, of course. Fitting for a birthday. Right? Right. Well after our adventures throughout the day we were short on time, and had to run home to pick up our tickets, and then back to the opera house. So Adriana and I rush home on the public transportation system(which is quite lovely), and back out the door, tickets in hand to the Volkstheater, on the Ringstrasse. First off, when we walked up to the Volkstheater, we weren't sure which entrance we should go in, and so, we proceeded to encircle the entire building before determining to just enter the main entrance. We then showed our tickets to the usher, hoping he would get us to our standing room places quickly before the show started. He looked at us, and then he looked at the tickets, and then he turned to ask a lady where our seats were. He assumed he was new, or confused, or maybe he wasn't used to seating such pretty, and unshowered American girls. Then he turned back to us and said, exact words- "Go outside and down the stairs, then get on the U3 and transfer to the U6. Get off at the Volksoper. You don't have much time." Now I knew he was looney. There was NO WAY our seats were so cheap that they are U-bahn stops away from the stage. Absolutely no way. I tried to reason with him, and speak really clear English, but alas, he was persistent. Get on the U-bahn. And then...Adriana said- "Oh! We're at the wrong place!" I've never been so embarrassed in all my 22.25 years. We thanked him and ran outside. We had gone to the Volktheater instead of the Volksoper. The silliest mistake any tourist knows not to do, anyone who's anyone knows there's a difference. It is stated in EVERY Vienna book, and our host mother Liesl had told us the night before too...And yet, in all our rushing, and adventuring, we had made the mistake of all dumb mistakes. Officially stamped as dumb Americans.

We tried to gather our giggles outside in the frigid air, and headed on down to the U-bahn station. Still in fits of laughter, and shame, we asked a nice girl waiting for the U-bahn which was the fastest way to the Oper house. She said get a taxi. So back up we went to hail ourselves a taxi. Only problem: how does one hail a taxi here in Vienna?...We had no idea. So we asked the Polizei standing on the corner if he could help us get one, we were in a bit of a rush since we had, oh six minutes until it started. He laughed at us. And then consulted two other Polizei. We stood in the background secretly hoping that they would just give us  a ride in their nice big Polizei van. They didn't. But they gave us different directions on how to get there. By now, Adriana and I feel as if we may never live this down, and also, the performance has started. We jump on a #49 street car and ride almost to the U6. We jumped off prematurely and had to hike to the U-bahn station. (this happens a lot to us, for unknown reasons.) We finally made it. They let us in(an answer to quick prayers). And then we stood there for three hours while Papagano and Papagana sang their hearts out to each other. When we got home tonight we told Norbert about our adventures. His only reaction was "sometimes you do things that make me laugh."

And there you have it. Adriana and I are able to make Norbert laugh. And also, we'll never make the same mistake again. I swear.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

.ich liebe Wien. I love Vienna.

Lucky ducklings. I took a million pictures.


This is the only living tree right now in all of Vienna. It is also in the Jewish quarter, how fitting right? Right.

A monument to some man's fertility. Everything in this city has proved to be more than interesting. And so elaborate.

Quite possibly the coolest clock in all of Austria? The man moves for the minutes, and is holding the two o'clock hour above his head. And there are other people for all the other hours. Do you get it?...Because it changed my life.

St. Stephen's Cathedral. Funny story: While taking this picture,  some old man almost ran into me, and instead of saying excuse me, he quacked. Like a duck. Giggle fits occurred directly after.

Getting my tourist on. And some kid came running up to my face right before this. Hence the laughter during the flash.

Ps. That is NOT me smoking the cigarette.

Our host family's last name? Meinl.
They're famous all over Austria.
How cool is that?
Norbert Meinl really is the best.

Me hanging out over some Roman ruins.

The stairs of the Albertina Museum are painted to look like Monet's water lilies.
We're not allowed to say "beautiful" anymore. Norbert told us he hates that. So Adriana and I are working on our vocabulary.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Ladies and Gentlemen. Men and Women. Friends and Foes. Herr and Frau.

Welcome to the real deal.

...My first ever picture in Vienna...
.Note the left over Christmas lights and disappearing pedestrians.

I have seen much much more than a yellow parking lot stripe now. 
I have been here in Vienna for four whole days. It feels like I've lived here for my whole life. I could definitely get used to this lifestyle and this city. Nothing here is undesirable. 
Specifically my host Father. Norbert Meinl.
But let's start with the beginning.

Adriana Pinegar is my roommate. We are quite similar, which is more than a blessing. We hate the same things, and can laugh and make fun of the same things. This is a recipe for friendship.
We live in the 19th district.
Which is beautiful and includes the Vienna woods and huge vineyards and the Egyptian Embassy (which is just down the street from our house) and hills hills hills.

Note the Danau that borders the 19th District. 

We live with the Meinl's. Specifically Norbert, because his wife Liesel is still on a ski vacation with one of their daughters. Norbert is the epitome of class. He is a social butterfly. A cultured and experienced Viennese. He is also so so kind. And thankfully his English is super. The first night we got in, he picked us up and took Ana and I out to a traditional Austrian dinner. What a great introduction to the land of good food.  

Friday morning Norbert got up and made us breakfast and then mapped out how we get downtown for our orientation at the Austro-Amerika Institute. Our school. We live 45 minutes from downtown via public transportation. Speaking of the public transportation. It's amazing. I can get anywhere and everywhere on a bus, or a streetcar or the underground. Amazing.

Orientation was long and well, long. Plus you add in semi jet-lag and the need to be outside in the unexplored Vienna and it was a wee bit tough to sit through. But we did get a mini walking tour of the city, which included the Nasch Markt. An open air market filled with many stalls of food and spices and goodies. Adriana went on a search for lunch. We learned early off to just not respond when people speak German to us. We don't understand a word. Not a word. 
We got caught at one booth with some English speaking men and they invited us to the disco with them. We politely declined. They were pretty persistent and even offered us their phone so they could call us.
We still declined. And promised each other not to return there.

Also. People wear their wedding rings on their right ring finger. Sometimes people think I'm married.

Ps. If it looks like I'm wearing all the same clothes in all my pictures, it's because I am. 
Austrian Airlines lost my luggage.

After orientation Adriana and I went shopping in downtown for some basics for my wardrobe. The whole taking advise from your director when he tells you to bring at least one extra set of clothes in your carry-on isn't looking like such silly advise all of a sudden.
And of course my luggage was the only luggage to disappear. 

Friday night we wandered the streets of Vienna. We took the U-bahn to random stops. And we began to feel like we were really getting the hang of this public transport system. 
Norbert had a bridge tournament that night so we knew we wouldn't be missing anything in the Meinl household.
Ps. A bridge tournament. I'm telling you, this man is classy. 

Saturday morning Adriana and I walked around our neighborhood to get a feel for things. There is a magnificent cathedral just down the road from our house with bells that chime on a regular basis. There is also an LDS church a ten minute walk from our home. Which is more than convenient. 
Also this adorable door. 

The cutest little door in my neighborhood.

Saturday we celebrated a girl's birthday in our group and afterwards were taking the U-bahn to our stop and we happened upon a few girls dressed to the nines with fancy looking men on their arms. 
Our (being Adriana and I's) interests were piqued.
I suggested we follow them to see where they were headed. We had our suspicions that it was to a ball. But we needed to be certain. So we sneakily followed them to an elegant building and up four flights of stairs and down the hallway to the entrance of a traditional ball. We didn't go in. We don't have that many guts in this body. But we did ride down the elevator with some boys from the ball and they made fun of American girls thinking that all Austrians dress like people in the Sound of Music. Which is not true.
But we do sing the sound of music soundtrack as we walk the streets.

This is the best part:
1. Norbert. The man you see on the far right. He is my host Father. He is the sweetest man alive.
2. Vienna in the background sprawling across the countryside. 

Ps. I apologize for the length of this post. I never was very good at condensing my thoughts and words. You should see my journals. 

But Sunday we went to church. A German speaking ward. We don't speak or even understand any German so the whole three hours was spent questioning what was said and laughing when others were laughing and trying to assume what they were talking about. But. We'll do better next week. For sure. 
After church Norbert took us up to Kahlenburg. A little village-esque area that overlooks all of Vienna. The view was breath taking. And we could see the Danau and all the hillsides and all the major landmarks and where Norbert used to work. And everything. Really. I've never seen anything quite as splendid or as old and thrilling as how Vienna was on that overcast and cold and windy Sunday.

And Norbert showed us that. He's a true lover.
Ps. He used to be a tour guide of Vienna, and all of Western Europe, we're going to get him to guide us around. Also he said he hates it when tourists say "oh it's beautiful." So Adriana and I are working on our vocabulary. It's a good thing for us.

Auf Wiedersehen

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sprechen Sie Englische?

Current Status: Lounging, waiting, and people-watching in the Vienna International Airport.
Current Level of Happiness: 10 out of 10.
Current Level of Pent up Energy: 10 out of 10.
Current Level of Love for my Life: 99 out of 10.

Guys, I made it to Vienna. I am here. I am breathing Austrian air. I am stomping on Austrian soil. And I am taking in all the beautiful Austrian people. There really are beautiful people here. And everyone is dressed up. They all look like young professionals, even the old people. It's been quite the adventure getting here though. Let's start from the beginning. 

January 18th, 2012
3:45am - Wake up. Pinch myself to make sure that I'm not dreaming about leaving for Vienna today.
4:25am - Leave for the Airport with Mom, Dad, Marian, Alden and Marcella in the pouring snow. Don't forget the sleeping pills Mom puts in my bag, or the lunch and dinner she packed me.
5:00am - Take one pound out of my checked bag. Stuff it in my already completely packed backpack. 
5:30am - Say goodbye to Mom and Dad. Mom makes me cry just a little bit. Thanks a heap Mom. But I didn't cry nearly as much as Hailey did last night. Or this morning. That girl is a real lover.
6:00am - Board the flight. Get the best seats. Alden and I got the very last seats. Right next to the lavatory. There are pros and cons to this position. We'll get to that later.
6:45am - Still haven't taken off, waiting and waiting for the plane to defrost.
This is going to take too long.

Highlights from the travel day:

* Drink cart comes around on the flight from Pasco to Denver. I ordered cran-apple juice. The stewardess informed me there are sixty grams of sugar in that. I guess that's a lot?...Honestly, I cannot keep track of the amount of sugar levels I intake, I guess I'm glad she was watching out for me. So I asked for the apple juice instead. She told me the tomato juice is the best. I said. Just apple, please. She proceeded to give me the tomato juice. Let me tell you a secret. I hate tomato juice. Just because something is technically a fruit, does not give it privileges to be made into a juice. 

* Denver Airport. Marian was late for her flight. We ran. Us two girls carrying two kids, and four bags and a stroller and a car seat running, knocking into people down through the terminals. And she missed it. We were minutes too late. What a shame. Thankfully she was able to get right on the next plane. And I decided to just go to my terminal and wait until boarding time. I didn't feel the need to flirt with danger. Not today at least.

* Sat next to the richest man I've ever touched on my flight from Denver to Toronto. And yes, I made sure to touch him just to say that. (We just shook hands, nothing sketchy.) He was lame though. As all super rich men are sure to be. Lame and boring, caught up in his depths of money, and that was the only thing he knew how to talk about, how rich he was. Laaaaame.

* Met up in Toronto with two other girls coming to Vienna with me. Had to get a new seat assignment, and the lady gave me a whole row to myself. A whole ROW. Three seats, for Big Bum Becca. I graciously thanked her. Really, I'm owe my lack of jet lag to that wonderful woman. 

* Austrian Airlines themes their planes. Well, Austrian themed of course. But the seats are way colorful, and they give everyone pillows and blankets and dinner and breakfast and all the free drinks you want (even alcoholic, yup) and the best service, and everyone has their own t.v. (or three personal t.v's if you're me) and headphones and oh la la. They take care of you. I took my sleeping pill while we were still on the ground and I slept almost the whole way to Austria. I missed the whole Atlantic Ocean, and London. We flew right over London and I missed it. Oh well. 

* When we arrived in Austria this morning, they announced the weather. Light rain. And 6*. I had a mini heart attack. Kiersten was right. This is going to be THE coldest I've ever been. Then common sense kicked in. It doesn't rain in 6 degree weather...blasted Celsius. I'm never going to get used to that system. 

* Oh, biggest adventure. They lost my luggage. Yaaaa...I suspected this might happen to me, when every airport I checked into they asked me bewilderingly if I had any checked luggage.  But don't fret too much. I talked to the Austrian Airlines lost and found and the lady became my newest best friend. She gave me some clothes, and then she scrounged around for basic toiletries. AND she gave me her personal phone number and e-mail and invited me out to her countryside manor. Uhm. I'm definitely taking her up on that offer. 

I'm thinking this is what it's going to look like:

And, well, here I am. In Austria. Granted, the only thing I've seen of Vienna is a painted yellow road line from the cracks of the airplane doors, and some construction outside the airport window. But already it's beautiful, and my favorite place. Ever.


Friday, January 13, 2012

.The Final Countdown.

The final days are here.
The countdown is winding down.
The paper chain is getting shorter and shorter.
The tally marks have filled a full page in my journal.
And the months and months I've been longingly waiting for are finally to an end.

Vienna in FOUR days.

That's less than a week.

Some nights I lie in bed and day dream about how I am going to be sleeping in Austrian sheets soon, and speaking that harsh German language, and making Austrian friends, and spending my every waking minute taking in the beauty of the Alps, and eating Austrian sausage (ps. I swore off ALL sausage over the new year, what terrible timing eh?), and taking the U-bahn as my only form of transportation, and living with strangers-whom are sure to become my bestest friends, and attending enough classical concerts to fill every family member of mine's lifetime with culture, and wearing multiple coats and scarves and gloves and boots. And enjoying my life in Europe.

I've never been to Europe.
And what a beautiful place to start, right? What a beautiful place to start.

Well. Sayonara.

Ps. My host family got changed today. I am no longer living in the 18th district. Instead I've been moved to the 19th district. You wanna know what the 19th district is popular for?...
1. HUGE, spacious houses.
2. HUGE forests.
3. HUGE prison.
4. HUGE amounts of wine tasting. Yup. I got the best place, by far.

Ps. This is where I'm living. In this house. Yup. You should probably be a little bit jealous...don't worry. I'll bring home some chocolates.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Dear World


Dear World.
I've taken up blogging.
I figured that since everyone in my life has a blog, including my ex-boyfriends-best-friends-cat, I could join this cyber world. I was getting behind the times. Obviously.
And nothing is more social suicidal than being behind the times. Kind of like the kid in high school who still wore Winnie the Pooh sweatshirt, or the student on campus with the Walkman? Absolute death.

Here's my BIG NEWS:
I depart for Vienna, Austria in sixteen days.
I'm ready.

Minus that I have no idea what to bring with me, I don't have any luggage to my name, I need to find my passport, I need to order my books, I need to find the address that I'll be living at, I need to talk to my bank, get a credit card, prepare mentally for the bitter freezing deathly cold, learn some German, and think of creative ideas for goodbye gifts for my lover AKA boyfriend. Oh, and conquer the impossible list my father gave me today--Which includes, automate the entire sprinkler system, sell the Volkswagon Bug, and detail the Suburban.

These sixteen days are going to be wild. But I am ready. I swear.

Ps. Wish me luck :)