Elizabeth Hiatt
Johannes-Kepler Universitat Linz

There was another Stammtisch last Tuesday, and I’d have to say it was the best one yet.  It was the Southern Stammtisch, and students from South America, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Croatia treated the rest of us to a delicious homemade dinner.  Everything was truly delicious!  We started off with some Croatian style onions and sausage, and then had pesto pasta, and authentic Italian pizza.  Some of the students from Spain came a little bit later, and they made so much food they literally had to bring it over to LUI in two shopping carts! 

They had made dozens of what looked like egg bakes, but they were spicy, fluffy, and delicious.  They had also made what reminded me a lot of French toast, but with lots of cinnamon.  One of my favorite dishes was the one two girls from Peru made.  They made some kind of mashed potatoes with a creamy, spicy chicken topping and it was… amazing!  It’s one recipe I definitely have to get.  We spent the night eating great food and playing pool, so I’d definitely call it a good time.  I think it was the best Stammtisch we’ve had, and I thought the Asian Stammtisch before that was pretty amazing.
 
 
Elizabeth Hiatt
Johannes-Kepler Universitat Linz

So I’m afraid I’ve become an addict since I’ve been here.  I’ve been in Linz roughly three and a half months, but it really only takes a day.  Ever since I stepped into the H & M on Landstrasse I was in love and I was addicted for life.  And I honestly don’t know what will happen when I go back to the States!  I’m thankful that, of all places, they chose to open an H & M in Atlanta.  Otherwise I might not survive. 

I’ve only been shopping a couple times there, but I love it every time I go!  I like looking at all of the clothes on display, but my favorite places to go are all the sales racks.  And Linz doesn’t have just one H & M… it has two! Right down the road from each other!

Before I came to Austria, people told me that it would be really important for me to dress nicely when I went out.  None of this sweatpants-or-workout-clothes-to-class-or-out-to-run-errands business.  For the most part, I’ve found, this is true, but there are still some students who walk around campus in sweatpants.  I’ve noticed that people generally look pretty put together out in the city, but no more so than I’m used to back at home.  The only difference is that come exam time there are not that many more people running around in shorts and T-Shirts on campus, and I have yet to see someone come to class in their pajamas, which was a pretty regular sight at Maryville. 

In the clothes department what I do miss is having University gear.  While most colleges have all kinds of T-Shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, water bottles, what have you, JKU (as far as I’m aware) doesn’t really have anything like that – just a T-Shirt I think.  I found it interesting that this kind of thing isn’t as popular here.  And, in talking to other European students I’ve found that they say the same thing.  Yet another one of the tiny details that makes things different.

In any case, where as I used to rarely ever go, I feel that once I get back to the States I’ll be frequenting the H & M in the city a little bit more often. 

 
 
Elizabeth Hiatt
Johannes-Kepler Universitat Linz

One of my goals, one of the things I felt that I absolutely had to do while I was here, was to go see a play, opera, or ballet.  I mean, you can’t come all the way to Europe and not see at least one of these.  So, the other day when some of my friends and I were talking about it and they expressed interest as well I was really excited.  One of the girls looked up some ballets at the local theatre, and we decided to go to one called “Das Narrenschiff” (“Ship of Fools”).  I read the description, and it said that the show was about a group of people on a on a ship from Mexico to Germany set during the beginning of the Nazi regime in Europe.  I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but us ladies put on our cute dresses and heels and went out to see it.  The tickets were only 10 Euro, so it was very affordable. 

The only ballet I had seen previously was a recital of The Nutcracker, and this was definitely something entirely different.  There wasn’t very much dancing, but when there was it was only a bit of it was what I thought of as traditional ballet, and one of the main group dances was a Mambo.  There were many characters on the boat:  the captain and crew, a couple that was always fighting, and young couple (the man was an artist), a woman dressed all in black, an older woman and her daughter, and many others.  The title was certainly appropriate because, from what I could tell, each of the characters was definitely foolish in his or her own way.

Needless to say, the ballet wasn’t what my friends were expecting either – far from it.  Afterwards we went out for ice cream on the square.  When the weather got nice the restaurants put chairs and tables outside on the square, so we sat out and talked for about another hour (mostly about the ballet we had just seen). 

Hopefully I’ll get the chance to go to the opera while I’m here, but anyway, lesson learned:  do lots of research about anything you go see that you’re not already familiar with! 
 
 
Elizabeth Hiatt
Johannes-Kepler Universitat Linz

Last weekend I went to Salzburg, and I’m so glad I did.  It was one of the few places that I knew I needed to visit before I came back home.  Again, we took the lovely train into the city, and it only took about an hour and a half.  When we first arrived we tried to find our bearings, but we ended up getting on the wrong bus (right line, wrong direction), and it took us away from the city instead of towards it.  At one point the bus stopped in a place that definitely didn’t look like the city center, and the driver requested that all the passengers get off and told us he couldn’t take us any farther because of the traffic.  As we were walking around we did notice an extraordinary number of people… and dogs.  We rounded a corner and came upon a convention center that had a big sign saying “World Dog Show”! There were dogs everywhere:  huge dogs, tiny dogs, dogs with bows, and dogs with hair-dos… After taking a few pictures and laughing at our mistake, we got back on a bus heading in the right direction and finally ended up in Salzburg city center. 

The first thing I did there was visit Mozart’s Geburtshaus, or his birth house.  They had turned the house he was born in into a multi-floor museum of all things Mozart.  I spent a good hour and a half looking at all the displays and admiring the house.  Afterwards, we decided to break for lunch and it was then that we came to the main square and stumbled upon a Brass and Woodwind music festival.  There was a stage set up along with stands and stands of all kinds of food and drink.  We stayed for a little while to admire the music and then started the walk up to the fortress on the hill that provided a lovely look out over the city. 

A couple members of our group had paid to go on a “Sound of Music” tour that would take them to many of the places relevant to the Von Trapp family and the making of the movie.  Their bus tour would take them about four hours, so the rest of us decided to walk to one of the “Sound of Music” related houses that was within a reasonable distance.  On our way there, however, we took some odd turns and ended up walking through a small neighborhood with a couple farms.  There were all kinds of cows, chickens, and goats, and we did see one animal we didn’t expect to see:  a flamingo.  Correction:  it was a whole flock of flamingos! We heard some loud noises and when we looked through a gap in some bushes we saw a whole flock of flamingos, pink and squaking.  It was truly one of the last things I expected to see in Austria.  After wandering by some beautiful houses, we finally found the lake and the house we were looking for, only to meet up with our friends on the tour! Unfortunately we couldn’t tour the house, but we did get to see a wedding reception go inside. 

By the time we got back to the city center it was getting late in the afternoon, and we were tired from all the walking we had done, so we decided  to sit and enjoy the rest of the Brass and Woodwind festival until our friends got back from the tour.  Once they did, we met up and had a quick dinner of Kebab, then went to wander around the Mirabell Park and Garden, which was lovely even though you could definitely tell the gardens had only recently started seeing the summer sun. 

It was a wonderful day trip, and I hope I get to go back again before I leave!  I was so exhausted that I slept the entire train ride back that night though, and I was happy to be in Linz again. 
 
 
Elizabeth Hiatt
Johannes-Kepler Universitat Linz

So… after traveling for two weeks it was pretty hard to get back to classes.  I’m not gonna lie, I’d been away for so long I didn’t even remember my schedule.  I showed up to my German class thirty minutes early the first day back because I thought it started at 8am and not 8:30.  As a result of the crazy amount of traveling and sight-seeing I did in those two weeks I’ve gotten into the habit of thinking that if I’m not going somewhere every weekend I’m not really taking advantage of the time I have here.  However, it’s actually been really nice to relax and do things around Linz on the weekends.  It’s been pleasant to hang out at the lake or go into the city to eat gelato and check out the open-air markets or even to just walk along the Danube. 

Unfortunately I can’t relax all the time.  I finished up some midterms a while ago, and now that I’m facing finals about a month from now I remember that I do have classes to take here! (Wow, what a thought.)  Hopefully I’ll get to travel a little bit more in Austria before I go, but I’ll always have Italy to look forward to the first week in July!  I had to try and sneak in one more European adventure before I left, and I’m so excited! 

One thing that Austria does excellently is holidays, and this has definitely increased my propensity to forget about classes, much to my detriment.  A while back we had a long weekend, and this coming week we have both Monday and Tuesday off, and the next week we have Friday off as well!  And since I don’t have classes on Thursdays that makes for another four-day weekend!  This definitely hasn’t helped my work ethic, as I would much rather shop in the city or lay by the lake on our off days. 

Thinking about finals makes me realize how little time I have left here.  I can only imagine how strange it will be to come back to the States to see familiar faces and places that I haven’t seen or been to in so long.  I’m definitely excited, but I will be sad to go and leave the amazing places and the wonderful people here.  All the more reason to enjoy the time I have left here!
 
 
Elizabeth Hiatt
Johannes-Kepler Universitat Linz

So you’re in college and you live in a dorm? Or maybe you’re out on your own in a nice apartment?  Maybe you have neighbors that just live really close to you?  Well if you live in any of these situations you know that living in a dormitory or apartment style residence can, obviously, pose some challenges and issues.  However, it’s my personal belief that as long as everyone can have some basic common courtesy we can all live together like a little happy family.  And then after getting a little more experience out in the world I came to my senses and realized that sort of common courtesy is really rare.

Long story short:  if you live in bulk housing you’re going to encounter people that have less than their fair share of courtesy, especially concerning… Noise! Dun dun dun…. So what can you do when you have noisy neighbors?

A very common problem people in dormitories or apartment buildings have to deal with is noise, and anyone who has ever lived in such a space knows this.  Recently, I had an experience with excessive amounts of noise.  Usually noise doesn’t bother me and I tune it out easily, but this time the noise happened to be drunk people noise from 3am to 5am on a Thursday night (technically Friday morning).  I had the pleasure of listening to needlessly long, drunken conversation shouted between people in the parking lot outside my window and some people I believe who were leaning out the windows on the 5th or 6th floor of my building (“Where’s Saaaaam?” “Hey are you coming or not?” “Hold on I need to get my bag.”  “We’re going now so hurry up!”  “Where’s SAAAAAM?” “Come on let’s go!” and so on.)  This went on for a while until they finally quieted down.  I was drifting between consciousness and blissful sleep when I awoke with a start to the return of the cavalry! Again, more shouted conversation, and when that was over I thought I’d finally be able to get some sleep when I heard soundtrack to Grease being blasted from the same said window.  I actually really like Grease, so it wouldn’t have been so bad except for the fact that it was 5am and I needed to get up for class in two hours. 

Luckily, this hasn’t happened since, and I’ve been able to sleep as soundly as I need to on the weeknights.  This is a pretty rare example, but if you have noise problems where you live, what should you do?
1.     Complaining is always an option, but I prefer talking to people myself first.  If you know who’s making the noise, and if you ask them nicely and politely (trying really hard not to let it slip how full of rage you may be), there’s a big possibility that they will quiet down or at least remember for next time.  (I know it’s really hard not to come home like a screaming maniac when you’re drunk, but people have been able to, believe it or not, come home without waking up the entire building.  So I know it’s possible.)
2.     Since you may not always know that people making the racket, finding them may be an issue.  If the noise is continuous night after night and you are really suffering from it, then an official complaint where possible may be appropriate.
3.     Making as much noise as the other people rarely works and just makes other innocent people angry, so don’t do it. 
4.     You can always just suck it up.  People like to have fun and blow off steam, and I totally support that! If the noise is only occasional and doesn’t cause you any long-lasting psychological or ear-related damage, just let it roll off.  That’s what I usually do.  (Unless the noise is Justin Bieber or Nickelback related – then we’re gonna fight.) Noise hasn’t been an excessive problem here for me, so I take this one incident in stride and consider it a funny story to share with people later. 

So there it is! Not at all comprehensive and only half serious, I hope this at least gives people some options about how to deal with problems involving noise in their living situations.  I have been so lucky to have a pretty wonderful living situation, but I know that’s not the case for everyone.  So here’s to all of us that have the joy of living in dormitories!! Most of the time the good and the fun outweigh the bad and the irritating, so chin up!
 
 
So it turned out that Michae and I were on the same flight to the Netherlands (go figure)!  I was super excited because I had thought I would be in the Netherlands by myself.  I was staying in a city called Eindhoven, which was small but really adorable.  We took some time to walk around Eindhoven the first day we got there.

The next day we went to Amsterdam! Again, it was pretty rainy and cold, but I still had a great time.  I got to see the flower market, the canals, the cheese shops (Oh the cheese shops… as far as the eye could see! I was so happy I almost cried a little on the inside), and the Van Gough Museum.  After the Van Gough Museum the cheese tasting was probably my favorite thing that we did there.  There were tons of different cheeses to taste from along with different types of mustard to try on them. Now, you may be thinking “Cheese and mustard? Really?”  Yes, really.  And it’s delicious.  There were spicy mustards, mild mustards, and sweeter mustards, and if you got the perfect combination of the right cheese and the right mustard it was like biting into a little piece of heaven.  (Along with fish and chips, angels probably also eat pesto cheese. I’m pretty sure that’s in the Bible somewhere.) The Van Gough Museum was absolutely fascinating. Even in the cold and the rain I still had to wait in a line that went down the block to get in, but it was way beyond worth it. 

I spent another night in Eindhoven, and the next day I went to go visit Michae where she was living! It was great to see the town where she lived and to meet her roommates and friends (who are all ridiculously nice and hysterical).  All in all I had an excellent time!

Ok next and final stop: Slovakia.  I honestly couldn’t believe I was actually going there.  It was just one of those things, like going to Budapest, that I never really thought I would be able to do.  I met up with some other people from Linz in Bratislava, and then we traveled to Zilina, where Veronika lives.  Her parents were sweet enough to not only let us stay for the night but also to cook the most delicious meal for us!

The next morning we left for the High Tatras, and it was quite a journey just to get there.  We had to take a bus, a train, then one or two trams (I can’t quite remember… this is what happens when you write about something a month after you did it).  So, we started our journey up the mountain.  Veronika had mentioned that there would probably still be some snow in the Tatras, but what I thought would be some snow turned out actually to be a ton of snow! It was simultaneously hysterical and frustrating to be walking along and then suddenly have the bottom half of your leg devoured by snow.  I had never seen so much snow in my life! 

Despite the fact that the hike was exhausting, it was also breathtakingly beautiful!  I was so relieved when we finally got to the cabin we were staying at though – I was ready to change into warm clothes and pass out!  We had dinner, and I pretty much just went to bed afterwards. 

Veronika told us an interesting fact (that actually makes complete sense when you think about it) about the cabins in the mountains.  If someone comes in after dark but hasn’t paid or made a reservation, the people running the cabin are not allowed to turn them away – they have to give them some place to stay during the night.  We were all in a room with about 6 bunk beds, but we could see that the room next to ours was just filled with mattresses laying on the floor.  She told us one story about a couple who had planned a romantic weekend in the mountains and had paid a substantial amount of money for the fabulous room in the cabin they were staying in.  During the night, some lost hikers had found the cabin and were brought in to stay.  There was apparently no room elsewhere, so they put mattresses on the floor in the couple’s room!

The next morning we were up bright and early for breakfast, and then we started heading back.  Let’s just say going down was a lot easier than going up had been the previous day!  We made our way back to Veronika’s house, and some of us stayed there while others caught a train to Vienna to stay the night there, and the next day we started our journey back to Linz. 

Getting back to Linz was a relief for me, actually.  I had a fantastic two weeks but it was nice to get back to my own room and bed.  I almost couldn’t believe that I had actually done all the traveling that I did!  I had a fantastic time, and I can’t wait to do some more traveling while I’m here. 
 
 
Elizabeth Hiatt
Johannes-Kepler Universitat Linz

After Vienna I went to Hannover, Germany to visit my friend Madison!  I was beyond excited to get to see her.  When I got there though apparently we both kept walking past each other at the airport because it took us a while to find each other…  It was really great to see her, especially because I’ve been in such a new environment with new people in my life.  It was really refreshing to be able to see someone I know from home in person.  We went back to where she lives in Hannover and I got to see the University she goes to and the dormitory she lives in.  After dropping off my things we went to the Hannover city center to look at some of the shops and stop for a coffee.  We decided to make plans to go to Hamburg with another friend of hers to take her laptop to the Apple store there because it had just stopped turning on.  Having had that experience back in the US, I could not imagine having to deal with that soon after arriving in Europe. 

I enjoyed Hamburg, but unfortunately it was pretty rainy and cold the entire day.  I got to ride on a train again! I’m right there with Sheldon – trains are the best ever.  (Sorry, I love “The Big Bang Theory” and miss it dearly.)  We stopped at a café to have lunch and some amazing pancakes!  It’s really amazing how you can be in an entirely different continent and some things are always the same – I’ve experienced it with Starbucks and now the Apple store.  I guess that’s what they go for. We got Madison’s laptop taken care of (they ended up fixing it the next day!) and spent the rest of the time shopping. 

Ok so I had a little bit of a hiccup in my plans because I realized that registration for Maryville classes was going to happen while I was traveling during the break.  Unfortunately, since Madison’s computer decided to give up the ghost, so to speak, we didn’t have internet access.  I had to end up changing some of my classes at an internet café down the street, and after some hurried emails to my advisor eventually I got everything sorted out (fingers crossed) and registered for senior year.  Madison was able to do this too, and I’m glad we were able to be together to deal with that.  That night we had dinner with some of Madison’s friends, and we made fried chicken! We just had to have that good ol’ tribute to the south! I had never made it before, but it turned out purty darn tootin’ good. 

Even though I only had a short time to stay with Madison, I’m so happy I got to see her at all!

Next stop:  Dublin, Ireland.  I think I can officially say that Ireland as a whole is my second favorite place I’ve been to (just right on the tail of Budapest).  I really enjoyed Dublin, and what made it even more awesome was that the wonderful Michae was able to meet me there!  Seeing another one of my friends from home was amazing! Exploring Dublin was incredible – we got to see St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin Castel, Trinity College and the Book of Kells (which blew my mind – along with the Old Library), and of course no trip to Dublin would be complete without seeing the Guinness Brewery!  We toured and got to learn how to pour “the perfect pint of Guinness.”  One of the best beers I’ve ever had! We also ate the best fish and chips I have ever had.  Now, I haven’t exactly had a lot of fish and chips during my life, but I can say that these were the most delicious fish and chips probably in the entire universe – with salt and a little vinegar they were absolutely heaven.  I think they must have been the food that angels eat.  If I were an angel I’d eat it all the time.  Heaven is probably just a giant fish and chips place.

But anyway, even though Dublin was absolutely amazing, I think my favorite part was being able to get out in the countryside.  We decided to take a day tour to the Cliffs of Moher, which are way on the other side of Ireland (on the west coast, actually).  To get there we drove through small towns and villages and vast, rolling, green landscapes.  What really made that tour though was our driver and tour guide.  He told us old Irish legends and sang Irish songs for us and was pretty much the most amazing tour guide I’ve ever had.  The cliffs were absolutely beautiful, and I left feeling that I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time there.

I was really sad to leave Ireland, but I was also excited for my next stop:  The Netherlands!