On August 12, I left for Austria with nine other Linfield students. The flights were long, the lack of sleep was nearly unbearable, but we eventually made it!
We spent one long, restless, jet laggy night in Vienna before departing for the alpine village of Dorfgastein, in western Austria. Dorfgastein is in the Gastein valley, near several other villages. It is a touristy spot because of the beautiful mountains that are perfect for hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. Even the view from our balcony is just incredible.
So far we’ve been taking German conversation classes, hiking, and exploring the valley. Our group is split into two tracks: English and German. Those on the English track (which I am on) have no prior German language experience. The German track students all have at least a semester and up to six years. I can’t speak for those with German experience, but for those on the English track, the language courses have been so much fun. We are just starting the basic things we need for “survival German,” such as telling time, greeting someone, composing a basic sentence, and ordering food. I am so glad that I have taken French before, though, because otherwise I would feel totally lost! The structures and ideas are similar, at least, in most languages.
Although I am not much of a hiker, I have loved the mountains here. Our first hike was a long, steep, downhill hike down the major ski mountain. We took a cable car/gondola up the mountain, then hiked down for several hours. The two best things about hiking in Austria are the views and the food. Austrian hikes are interspersed with mountain huts that serve tall beers, hearty lunches, and schnapps after every meal. It’s so wonderful to accomplish part or all of a hike and then sit down at a restaurant with beautiful views and drink a good beer or enjoy a traditional Austrian pancake.
Our second day of hiking was all flat, which was good for sore knees and jet lagged bodies! This time our hike was in a neighboring village, about an hour bus ride from Dorfgastein. Since there was no objective for this hike (like, we all must make it to the middle point of this mountain so we can take a cable car down and be on time for class), we all went at our own pace. Some went farther than others. Personally, I stopped at another mountain hut and watched a waterfall run down the side of the Alps.
Today we just had German class and a short orientation before we return to Vienna tomorrow. Tomorrow we leave for Salzburg and will spend part of the day there, then go back to Vienna for the true beginning of our study abroad experience! We’ll finally meet our host families tomorrow and then begin real classes on Monday!
Tschüß & Thanks for stopping by.