Elizabeth Hiatt 
Johannes-Kepler Universitat Linz

Another week has absolutely flown by! I can’t believe I’ve been here for two weeks already. I had a real shock when I realized I’d only be spending another four months here… To some that may seem like a long time but I feel like at the end I’ll be looking back not knowing where the time went.

Monday was my 21st birthday! Not that it’s really that big of a deal here because the drinking age is younger, but I was very excited! Some of my friends surprised me with cake and presents, and I felt so lucky! That night there also happened to be a Carnaval party, so I had two reasons to celebrate. Carnaval is pretty much just one giant party – you can dress up in costumes and everyone celebrates. Some of the other students and I decided to use our bed sheets and go “toga style.” It was a great time!

I’ve continued to have German class this week, and I’m learning a lot. I successfully managed to ask a server at a restaurant some questions and he understood me! I like to count the small victories. I also did my laundry this week and that is definitely a process… I needed to bring my dictionary so I could get an idea of what the washers and dryers said. And in the end my clothes weren’t all the way dry! I’ve registered for classes, and so far it looks like the scheduling pretty much works out. I only have a class conflict on one day. Most of my classes meet once a week for a couple hours, but my German class will meet twice a week. I do have one class I might be taking that only meets for one day… for 8 hours! We’ll see how that goes. I finally got my bankcard this week, and it works so that made me really happy.

On Saturday I went into the city with some friends to visit a flea market. Apparently flea markets and open-air food markets are pretty common. I really enjoyed looking through all the things people had to sell. There was everything from books to bikes to dishes to clothes to chandeliers. Afterwards we had lunch and then I took some more time to check out some of the stores in the city center. There are so many bakeries… I have to fight myself not spend all of my money there! I went into one store called Thalia, and it turned out to be a bookstore. A four-floor bookstore! I was in heaven! I also went to a store called Kika that’s a little bit like Ikea. They have furniture and other various household goods. One my way back it seemed like the tram was delayed for some reason (haha I couldn’t read the scrolling message…), so I decided to start walking back to the University. It was a beautiful day and unusually warm, so I enjoyed the walk immensely. I can only hope that Spring might be around the corner, but I'm not getting my hopes up too much as it's supposed to get colder later this week. Eventually, though, a tram did stop by so I didn’t have to walk all the way back. Saturday night my mentor here and the other members of our group of exchange students met the last member of our group. She’s from Korea, and she had to stay there until recently because she needed to be present at an interview, so she only arrived here the day before yesterday. We took here to the grocery store because we knew it would be closed today! Later while we were hanging out I decided that I wanted to make cookies despite the fact that I didn’t have a baking pan, all the right ingredients, or any measuring cups or spoons. Surprisingly, they turned out to be edible.

I’ve pretty much spent today doing things around the flat. This morning some other girls on my floor and I cooked breakfast! One girl made homemade pancakes that were absolutely delicious (there were some strawberries to go with them!), and I brought eggs, toast, and some fruit. I have my first test tomorrow. It’s for the Pre-Semester German class that I’m taking here, and despite needing to know a lot of vocabulary I think it’ll go well. Or, at least, I’m hoping that it will! Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I’m going to a Cultural Sensitivity Training course, and then Friday we leave for Budapest for the weekend! I’m beyond excited, and I can’t wait!

Ok I think this post was a little bit more manageable haha. I’ll post more pictures next time! Especially a lot from Budapest!
 
 
Leah Petr
Edinburgh Napier University

On our first weekend trip outside of Scotland, my new friends and I went to the Mediterranean Island of Malta (Gorgeous! Go there!). On the way there, we flew over the Alps which were completely stunning. With my entire iPod on shuffle, The Sound of Music Prelude happens to start playing as I’m peering out the window at the craggy magnificence. First of all, yes, I’m so cool as to have The Sound of Music soundtrack on my iPod and, secondly, I had just completed a life goal that I wasn’t even aware of having: living the opening scene of my favorite movie. That Sound of Music experience has inspired me to make a short list of a few of my favorite things that I have found here in Scotland so far.

Here goes:

1. Raindrops on Roses: It might rain here relatively often, but, when it does, it isn’t the drenching kind that requires a raincoat and “Wellies;” it’s more of a misty drizzle that’s more likely to make you drowsy than really get you that wet.

2. Whiskers on Kittens (or Puppies, in this case): I’ve said it before, but it still amazes me; Edinburgh is home to some of the most well-behaved dogs that I’ve ever seen, which is probably why they’re allowed in many establishments. It seems like everyone here has a dog trotting along behind them as they walk through the park or even down a crowded street. There doesn’t appear to be a leash law, but it isn’t an issue at all because all the dogs either trot alongside their owner or frolic nearby in the grass only to come running at the quietest call.

3. Bright Copper Kettle: A kettle is a marvelous kitchen appliance that I had never encountered before coming here. While ours is of the stainless steel variety rather than copper, I find myself using it all the time even though it seemed so pointless the first time I saw it (just boil water on the stove or in the microwave!). It is so incredibly convenient, though. Especially with my newly acquired tea habit. I just might have to invest in one when once I’m state-side again.

 
 
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Elizabeth Hiatt Johannes-Kepler Universitat Linz

Wow what a week! I’ve come to the realization that I probably need to post more than just once a week at least for these first couple weeks – so much has happened! I’ll try to condense it into a manageable summary.

I moved in officially last Sunday. I live in the Julius Raab Heim dorm here at JKU. What’s nice about this place is that it’s also used as a hotel, so it has a lot of hotel amenities! Downstairs under the lobby are an indoor pool, an indoor full-sized football (known in the states as soccer haha) court, a small dance studio, three piano rooms, and pool and foosball tables. On the level where the lobby is there is also a restaurant that isn’t too expensive. I haven’t eaten there yet, but I’ll have to try it out soon.

One interesting thing about Sundays in Linz – a majority of the shops and grocery stores close down! That was a little bit of a surprise for me. So far I’ve only been able to find a gas station that is consistently open on Sundays.

I share a flat-style apartment with two other girls. I’m in a double room with a girl from the Czech Republic who’s already been here for a semester, and a girl from here in Austria lives in the single room. They are both very nice! We share a bathroom and a small kitchen that has two burners and a small fridge. We’ve got a pretty great view!

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On Monday the international students had an orientation session, so I got to meet many of the other students. We got all kinds of information about enrollment, registration, classes, university facilities, and upcoming trips. There is a group on campus called REFI, and this semester they are planning trips to Budapest, South Austria for skiing and snowboarding, and Prague. I’m going to try to go on all of them if I can! They sound so exciting. We took a tour of campus and got put into mentor groups. Each group has one or two students from the university to help them. So then, our mentors helped up pay our student fees, set up a bank account, and set up passwords for the JKU online systems.


Wednesday I had my first German class! I am taking a Pre-Semester language class, so we have it for about three hours a day. I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to learn more. Wednesday night there was a pub crawl, so we got to go around Linz and check out some of the better pubs. The first one was called Bar Walker, and it was pretty much a sports bar. I really enjoyed the second one, which was called Café Valdes. If was kind of a Spanish style café, and I even got to speak to the man who was working there in Spanish! I didn’t think I would get to practice Spanish very much while I was here. The next one was Bar Bug’s, which is a bar and a club. They were playing American pop and hip hop! The final bar we went to (we skipped the very last one) was called Segabar, and it was much more laid back. All in all it was a great time!


On Thursday I had to take care of some administrative business like finalizing my account information, paying my rent and housing fees, and meeting with my coordinator here to discuss classes. Here, because the Julius Raab Heim isn’t owned by JKU like MC dorms are owned by Maryville College, I am responsible for paying my own rent. JKU and Julius Raab Heim just have contracts so that many students live here. Then, we had a meeting to learn how to use JKU’s online registration system for classes. I have to register next week, and it looks like all my classes are going to work out, so I’m happy about that.

Thursday night some of the students organized a trip to A1, a club close to the city center. It was really nice! There were three rooms: one more traditional, one techno, and one pop/hip-hop. In the more traditional room they played some German songs and… you’ll never guess… Backstreet Boys! I really couldn’t believe it! We spent most of the time in the pop/hip hop room, and it was another fun night!

On Friday I had German class again, and that night there was a birthday party for one of the other students. On Saturday we went on a trip to Schlierbach and Steyr. Schlierbach is a monastery/school, and now they make stained glass and cheese there. We went on a tour of the building, which I found contradictory in the most wonderful way. On one had, we saw the cheese-making facilities, which were very industrial and sterile.

On the other hand, in other parts of the building we saw baroque style rooms, a library, and the church. All of the ornate detail was absolutely incredible! No matter how many times I see baroque style architecture and décor it will never stop amazing me. Despite being breathtakingly beautiful, the library was absolutely freezin. Our tour guide told us they kept the room cold to better preserve the books.
After the tour we got to taste cheese that had been made right there, and it was absolutely delicious!
That building also had a wonderful view of the surrounding landscape.
Next we took a 45-minute ride to Steyr, which was a medieval town and is located in Upper Austria. We stopped to have lunch and ate at a traditional Austrian restaurant. Absolutely delicious.
Then, we took a tour of the city, which used to be a big source of iron production. The architecture there is absolutely beautiful! I think it’s the epitome of what a lot of people might consider a quaint European town.
Even though it’s only been about a week I feel like I have been here for so long. I have met half a lifetime’s worth of good people, and this is only the beginning! Almost everyone here has been very friendly, and I’m enormously grateful for that. It took a couple days, but I’m finally used to the time difference! I’m starting to settle in too, and I even found myself calling Raab Heim “home.” Haha the people I was with when I said that gave me uncertain looks until I explained that I meant the dorm. I still miss my MC home and Georgia home, though, but Skyping helps a lot!

Ahh… even though I tried to make it concise I’m afraid this is the best I can do! I’ll try to make my future posts a little more manageable! But I’m sure once semester classes start up my blogging might revolve a little more around my homework haha.
 
 
Kelley Blankenship
University of Worcester, England

This morning started out pretty terrible, not going to lie. The gloomy weather seemed to play well with how I was feeling... a little ill, bored, and stressed. But as if God himself was listening to my horrible attitude this morning, He decided to brighten my day with a few things, one of them being the sun. Literally as the sun (finally) came out, I entered into a much needed skype session with Mum. Seeing my pitiful state and listening to my pity party, Mum gave me her motherly advice and told me that I had to get out and do something and give her a full report by this evening! So... I did! I remembered that I really needed to get a hair cut, so I made my way to a place that my flatmate recommended. I decided to take the path along the river (because the day was so nice), and made my way down towards the cathedral. As I was walking up a side street, I noticed two men walking from High Street in World War II uniforms...? A bit confused, but not thinking much of it, I continued on but then realized that there were two other men walking around in what looked to be like Three Musketeer outfits. Ok... now something is up. I rounded the corner to find a whole crowd of people dressed in various period outfits! Ah!!! Naturally, I started laughing, not really sure what I had just stepped into. It turns out that the Worcester Re-enactors were doing an event called "Living History in Worcester"... so cool. The sign said "Free Entry," so of course I went in! I was like a giddy child walking around a candy store. I think I started weirding people out because I was a little too excited.
After feeding my historic appetite, I made my way down to the salon. There I met two very lovely ladies and a nice gentleman. I had an interesting conversation which included comments like "Do you have people tell you that they just love to hear you talk?" and "You have a very calming American accent." HaHa! I must have talked to them for a half an hour after I got my hair cut.

Saturday = a good day. The thing is, if Mom hadn't made me get out of my room, then I would have missed out on meeting those wonderful ladies and having some historic fun! The moral of the story is obvious... Mother Knows Best. :) Love you Mummy!

"Where ever you go, go with all your heart."
 
 
Elizabeth Hiatt
Johannes-Kepler Universitat Linz 
I can't believe that tonight will be my last night in the US for five months! It seems like it's not actually happening... but I do indeed have a flight to Frankfurt and then to Linz tomorrow, and I'm so excited! I've never actually blogged before, and apart from just saying that I'm surprised I am as prepared to go as I am at this point, this will be a pretty sparse post. But no worries, I will have much, much more to say once I arrive in Linz (where it's currently 10 degrees...). It's a good thing I packed warm!