I was filled with excitement, ready to go; ready to meet the people I’d be spending this semester with. Once I had, I felt more at ease. Not only was I able to meet people before actually reaching my destination, but I had the chance to bond with them outside of it. Why? Because a large group of us stopped in London for two days and we were thrown into it together. All sleep deprived, excited, anxious college students who were going to be spending the next semester together.
The days were spent wandering around London and exploring the city. However, while some say London is one of the most beautiful cities out there, I felt something missing. It didn’t have the same draw for me. I don’t know if it was because it was English speaking, or if it was because it felt so much like Boston (hmm, I wonder why?). We had the opportunity to see so many wonderful sights and act as tourists for a while. Shout out to our wonderful tour guide, Sean, who gave us a wonderful time and a bit of a lullaby with his smooth Scottish accent (you gotta say that part with the accent).
Two days was enough though. We were all ready to move on to bigger and better things — our final stop, Salzburg, Austria. We wanted to finally settle in to our ‘new homes’ and unpack. After a bit of bussing, flying, bussing again, and then a bit of taxiing, we all reached our final destinations. And boy… was I blessed by mine.
Since January, I’ve been asking myself “where will I stay?” with a feeling of uncertainty. People have asked me “where will you stay?” and I simply answered with “I don’t know.” Well, I had been thinking about it and wondering “How will I introduce myself? Do I initially speak in German or English?” The questioning continued and it kept me awake at nights, but when I opened the door to Frau Edith Lidenthaler’s Hause I was welcomed into her family. My Frau Hausen was the sweetest lady who sat and talked with us as we ate dinner. She joked with us as we stumbled over our elementary grasp of German while we roared in laughter as she attempted to pronounce “Massachusetts” in her thick, Austrian accent.
AIFS had done the absolute best and gone above and beyond to match people for their housing based on our personal interests and beliefs. All of the staff and administration spent hours pouring over all of our paperwork that lead us here and by the time they arrived they were calling us each by name. There’s no way any of us were going to get lost in the cracks or become a mere number among many.
We’ve spent hours going around the city — which has been a little rainy and cold… are we sure this isn’t still London? — working on settling in, going to orientation, and classes have just begun. It will be a while until the city becomes second nature, but once we have a routine established we’ll be navigating the city and handing out correct directions, and with confidence.
I’m looking forward to strengthening my German and it is such a great opportunity to have so many people to talk with, especially when sitting at home with Edith and Etienne. As we all stepped onto the roof after our language placement exam had left us feeling like all the years of German hadn’t paid off, we were awestruck and blown away by the sight that lay before eyes: The UniPark. This will definitely be where we spend most of our time, as we have the Alps on both sides, with the Festung Hohensalzburg overlooking our modern and sleek campus. To think that this is the place that I will call home for the next three months, I still can’t believe it. It’s going to be a time of growth, a time of challenges, and a time to truly experience something much larger than myself.