Exploring Wachau & Drinking in Class

For my Arts, Cultural, and Tourism Management class, we went on an “excursion” to look at the coffee culture in Vienna. We stopped in several different coffee shops to just look around and see how people could stay in the shops for hours and read the newspaper without being asked to leave. This coffee culture stemmed from older days where the coffee houses served as the Viennese living room. Houses did not have much space for guests, so people would often times meet at a coffee house. On our excursion, my class was anticipating getting to sit in a coffee house and enjoy a nice cup o’ joe. However, we just walked into these coffee shops and looked at people enjoying their coffee like they were some sort of tourist attraction. 

On the following week we met at the Prater for class. We got to learn some history of the Prater (Vienna’s amusement park & the oldest amusement park in the world). We also got to ride the Wiener Riesenrad (ferris wheel). My teacher had us walk into the Schweizerhaus (my teacher says it is the most popular beer garden in Austria). He pointed out how their mug cleaning process works and how efficient it is. Also, the food and drinks will apparently be ready in less than 5 minutes. The beer has low carbonation and lots of foam, which he said shows how good it is. I don’t know much about beer or really care much for it. While my class was “touring” we were convinced that our teacher was going to have us watch people eat and drink their beer as we walked through another location observing the locals (like in the coffee house). We were shocked when our professor invited us for a beer. The beer was not bad (I could never see myself just drinking beer for fun, but if I had to choose a beer, this was one of the better beers I have had). I did not eat much prior to this, so I did not really pay much attention to what all he was teaching us post-beer (0ops). I did learn that a girl from my class found a really good stick-and-poke tattoo artist. She was getting “Ich bin” (I am) tattooed on her foot. This might be good information for future reference. I am not sure what exactly I would get tattooed, but I have considered it and do want to get something meaningful. 

My fall break trip planning is also coming along quite well. We only have a few more minor things to plan, but the bulk of the trip is all set. Nicki, Claudia, and I will be traveling to Copenhagen (Denmark), Stockholm (Sweden), Oslo (Norway), Tromsø¸ (Norway), and Bergen (Norway). On this trip, we will be seeing the Northern Lights in Tromsø¸. We will also be seeing the Fjords from our travels to Bergen. The Fjord trip is not complete yet, but the plan is to go through this tour company where we would be taking a train and ferry for an all-day tour. Also, fall break is apparently a great time to see the Northern Lights (the best times are said to be before winter and after winter).

I feel like a great portion of my days and weeks is consumed by GoPro uploads… Have I mentioned that they take forever? They are so touchy when uploading too. I have to select a small chunk to upload at time and make sure the computer is in use and does not go to sleep or the upload will stop, and make sure that my apartment wifi does not decide to randomly kick me off.

I worked ahead for my 2 upcoming presentations. For my one psychology class, Stephen and I have a presentation which I completed 2 days after it was assigned. The class ended up getting cancelled for this week because of reasons that are not my business (but we all love some tea), so who knows if Stephen and I ever will have to present my assigned topics. I also read and created my presentation for my management class. I am doing this presentation with a girl named Maya (I think?), but I haven’t seen her in class at all, so maybe she dropped it? Anyways, I have been carrying around the book to give it to her so she could complete her part of the project, but I haven’t seen her.

Our Oktoberfest trip is coming up soon. I am so excited. We will be taking an overnight bus into Munich (arriving at 5:00AM) and staying in a tent on Saturday night. I heard bad tent experiences from others who went for the first weekend of Oktoberfest, but I think that crowd of students attracts bad things. I do know that my friends and I will have to pack warm clothes to sleep in. It might rain too, but let us hope that the weather is wrong. Camille borrowed my dirndl for her mom to wear this weekend since they went to Oktoberfest. Camille said she bought a new apron, but I think I might stick with the apron I bought.

I have been trying to take advantage of the nice weather in Austria, so I have been trying to walk as much as I did the first couple weeks. I walked through the Naschmarkt and was reminded of how aggressive the sales people are. I walked by a falafel seller and saw him holding out a falafel like it was a sample and I hesitantly walked by because I didn’t plan on buying anything. He called me back and gave me the falafel and then was mad at me when I said I lived nearby and would buy another time. He was like “why won’t you buy it now” and I was like “I am not going to eat it now, so I will come back another time since I live right over there.” He was grumpy. Also, when you walk through the Naschmarkt, people try to sell you any and everything and every sales person tries to get your attention. I have not seen any good produce sales prices, but if there were some, then maybe I would shop there more often.

I have also realized that protein powder can only be purchased from the Hofer on Mariahilferstraße. I have looked at several stores and that is the only place I have had success at.

I participated in a “Fridays for Our Future” protest. They are trying to take a stand against climate change and are encouraging the world to take action now. The chants were fun to try to say since they were mostly in German, but some of the chants were in English though. The crowd was mostly high school students, but there was somewhat of an older crowd among the students. The protests happened at different locations throughout Vienna. Our location was not the biggest protest, but it still drew a decent group. After the protest, Nicki, Maddie, and I walked down Mariahilferstraße so I could prove that they give out freebies on Fridays. The street did not disappoint and we got free cans of Pepsi Zero Sugar. We also did a blind taste testing to declare whether we thought Pepsi or Coke without sugar was the best. We chose Pepsi, which was good because it would have been awkward to tell the Pepsi people that Coke Zero tasted better.

One of my friends got sturm from a tinder date (awkward situation with the boy, but we cannot complain because we got sturm) and she gladly shared with the rest of us. I went with her to claim the sturm from the flea market (Speaking of flea markets, Maddie got some good deals at the flea market. She snagged some nice shoes for 10 euros and a nice beer stein for 15 euros.) The sturm was incredible. For those who don’t know what sturm is, it is a very young wine from “baby” grapes. The drink is considered dangerous for making one become drunk because you do not taste the alcohol in it. We drank quite a bit of it before we went to a heurig. A heurig is a wine tavern. The hills are absolutely beautiful and unreal. Claire read up on heurigs and ordered us a pitcher of white and red wine. She also read that white wine should be drank before red wine, so we drank accordingly.

On September 22nd, I went on the IES Abroad Vienna trip to Wachau. We toured the Melk Abbey, ate at Weinschenke Edllinger, hiked to the castle ruins (Dürnstein), and toured the Weingut Josef Donabaum winery. I bought a bottle of one of the wines we taste tested for 7.50 euros. Our lunch was absolutely amazing. Salads are hard to come across in restaurants, so I was finally able to get one and it hit the spot. The apple strudel was also super good.

Claire and Maddie tried to sign up for a boxing class at the Universität Wien, but the classes were all full. They looked into boxing classes outside of the university, so Maddie and I went to one (Claire had class). It was a lot of fun and a great workout, but the studio is moving and will have classes when I have class. After our boxing class, I removed a splinter from Maddie’s foot (with my years of jewelry making, I low-key love doing meticulous things such as splinter removal-contact me for your splinter removal needs).

Claire and I will be attending a show at the Burgtheater all in German later on this week. Also, some of us are attending the Rapid Wien soccer game. Stay tuned for my next update of life abroad.


We fell in love with Zagreb

So courses have officially started here at IES Vienna. I must say, I am not a fan of the whole “study” part in study abroad. However, I am all for the abroad aspect. Someone was actually just telling me that they were sorta getting sick of the abroad part. I am not sure that I would ever get sick of the abroad part.

I can’t really complain about my classes much yet. My one class has 40% field trips where we will go see many local businesses involved in the arts, cultural, and entertainment industry in Vienna. During the second class, we were to get into groups and come up with ideas for an event to be held for IES students at the Salon Shräg. My group planned HalloWien (“Wien” is Vienna in German). The one girl said she would make the powerpoint and share it with us all, but she never did, so on Friday morning before my weekend trip to Zagreb, I made the powerpoint and shared it with my group and told them to add stuff to it. I did not put much in it because I am one of 6 in the group, so naturally I would expect some of the other team members to add to it. I went away for the weekend and checked early Monday morning and NO ONE did anything to it. *Sigh* I figured “oh well, I cannot do everything and they cannot expect me to just do all the work, so I am not going to add anything else.” The other groups that presented had very elaborate slides about the costs for their event, etc. I made a brief slide with the admission fee, expecting that someone else would add something, but whatever. The stakes weren’t too high and it was just sharing our ideas with the class, so I don’t think we got penalized, but I was still kinda annoyed that they didn’t do anything. For my sociology class, Camille and I had to present on drug culture. Our presentation lasted about an hour and we were glad to have our presentations out of the way early on in the semester.

I was kinda disappointed with my one class the other day. We went for a walk to observe the Vienna coffee culture. We were all expecting to go sit in a coffee shop and enjoy the culture. Instead, we walked to about 5 shops without getting anything. We went into the shops as a group, looked around at the people sitting there enjoying their coffee, and left.

I went dirndl shopping this week. The cheapest dirndl at Landhaus was 150 euros, which is out of my budget, so I heard about another place from other students. I went to Humana, which is a thrift store and found a dirndl for 37 euros. It does not really match perfectly, but it will do and it is a traditional dirndl.

After the second day of classes, Maddie and I went to Addicted to Rock, which is a bar located not too far from our apartment. I noticed their sign advertising Moscow Muels and mentioned it to Maddie. She, too saw the signs and we figured we had nothing better to do (Tuesday on a school night), so we went! I got the Pink Punk Muel and the Ganz Wien Muel (the best one because it had hazelnut & hazelnut has been my go-to). We also shared fries with chili lime dressing. The bar had cool lighting and I think the bathroom would be a good group selfie location for future reference.

Also during the first week of classes, Toby (one of the IES directors) emailed my apartment-mates and I and said that there was a girl who was allergic to her apartment and since we have an extra bed she was going to move in with us. Nicki, who lives upstairs in an apartment with people she isn’t too fond of (they ignored her existence & one of which was our former roommate), wanted to move in to our apartment anyways, so we told her to email Toby quick and ask if she could move in with us and the girl with the allergies could move in to her old room. Ironically, the girl with the allergies was friends with the girls in Nicki’s old apartment, so everyone got the best of both worlds.

On Wednesday the 11th, Maddie, Vienna and I went to see Es Kapital Zwei (It – Chapter 2) in German. It was quite interesting to see a movie completely in German (no subtitles). We were able to pick up on some of it because of context clues. The movie was 3 hours long and the guy selling us the tickets was like “you know this is in German right?” It was like seeing a silent film. We were able to pick up on aspects in which audio might have distracted us from the big picture. I was also impressed with the visuals in Es.

For meals, I have been making hard boiled eggs, omelets, salmon, shrimp, and veggies. Eggs are so much better here, I cannot get over it. I have also been having my protein powder, which I will need to purchase more of soon. Protein powder is like my morning coffee, except since being in Vienna (along with Maddie showing me how to use the old-fashioned coffee maker), I have become an avid coffee drinker.

For my German Intensive Final (German isn’t over, just the intensive portion), I got a B+. This is quite the accomplishment since it has been such a quick-paced class. I wish German class would tone down a little. My teacher keeps telling us to study, but I don’t have much time to study, especially since other classes started. I also have been going to the gym every day that I am home.

Our cleaning lady has come twice since my last time writing. She finally found our apartment. Not sure if I mentioned it before, but on our scheduled day, she didn’t show up and Vienna (my friend, not the place) said that she was at their apartment again. After this cleaning, she gave us all floral sheets, and in my room all 3 beds match.

Our trip to Zagreb was absolutely amazing. It is not really the typical European vacation destination, so we did not really know what to expect when going to Zagreb, but as soon as we got there, we all fell in love with it. We had a 30-minute walk from the bus station to the Chill Out hostel. I like planning hostels and bus trips to be close to each other in walking distance and the city center (to avoid taxis), but it almost seems like many others do not have this same mindset. We saw there was a film festival happening and decided to go back after we checked into the hostel. The film festival had an amazing singer who blew us all away with his amazing looks and voice. Maddie fell especially hard for this singer. There were many attractive men in Croatia. We were not disappointed.

Our hostel was a party hostel with a bar and lots of people hanging out and dancing when we returned. I drank a piña colada as my mixed drink (I forget what Maddie and Vienna had, but they were all fruity). Then, we got beer. The beer was not my favorite (never have been a huge fan of beer), but I drank it anyways. For the first night in the hostel, I was awoken by Melanie (a random girl staying in the hostel) who arrived back to the room at 5AM. She threw her jean jacket on me (I heard her come in and ignored her at first). Then, she realized I was in the top of the bunkbed and she patted my leg and told me that was her bed. I said it wasn’t and told her that it was the bed I was assigned and that my friends and I were assigned beds 7, 8, and 1. She put her flashlight in the faces of all of those sleeping in our hostel, waking everyone up and asking what she should do. One of the guys told her to find an open bed and then there wasn’t one, so she went downstairs (9 flights of stairs). Then, she came back up, got her belongings and announced to the room that she was assigned to another room. We took advantage of the free walking tour offered by our hostel. We saw the changing of the guards during the tour and then again the next day. I found a “lucky Croatian penny” which was 10 lipa and was determined to be about the same value as a US penny. I found a “lucky Hungarian penny” while I was in Budapest, so I am hoping to keep this tradition going, since I like collecting lucky pennies in the United States. Collecting “lucky” currency in other countries is more exciting. In Croatia, we saw some of the soapbox parade which was pretty cool. We were somewhat disappointed with the winning team and their costume choice. I got my first full meal of calamari while in Zagreb. I have only ever tried calamari from others’ plates, but I was in need of protein and starving. We also went to the Broken Hearts Museum which was a fan favorite of the trip. The museum had items which were not just from intimate relationships, but also from relationships with family, friends, etc. Some of the items were very creative. A gross one was someone’s wound scab. We also went to the Botanical Garden which allowed for great photos. The border patrol stops for Croatia and Slovenia were less than 10 minutes apart, but on the way home, we waited in line for the Slovenia border stop for over an hour. We arrived back to Vienna after midnight.

My roommate situation in Vienna has been going very well. I enjoy the constant recaps about my friends’ Tinder dates. Claire is also a really good chef/baker and she shared some of her homemade banana bread with us. Claire’s birthday is 8 days before mine, so we decided for our birthdays, we would make each other cake. I think we both know who’s cake will turn out better!

My advisor, Mrs. Gaydos and I have been in contact about my Spring 2020 semester at Greater Allegheny. She is a saint. I am also convinced that she does not sleep because I will email her and she will promptly respond no matter what time it is, despite the time difference. I am lucky to have such a dedicated advisor, but I am concerned about her sleep schedule! My roommates think I am crazy for waking up at 6AM every day, but I think Mrs. Gaydos has me beat.

My GoPro video uploads take FOREVER. It is absurd. I have to have my computer on and keep tapping on the mouse pad to make sure that the upload doesn’t cancel. Also, the wifi at my apartment has not been the greatest, which doesn’t help. I need to clear up the storage on my GoPro, so I can freely use my GoPro for my trip this weekend.

Hungry? in Hungary?

On the first Sunday of every month, some of Vienna’s museums offer free admission. Vienna, Maddie, and I were pretty excited about that, but then we saw that the list of museums was not very long (and did not include any of the museums that we were all excited about). We ended up going to the Wien Museum MUSA. It was a very nice looking building from the outside, and we expected to be spending the whole day there. However, the museum was only one room. The exhibit was called Das Rote Wien to highlight the years 1919 to 1934 which were called Red Vienna, or “Das Rote Wien.” It was interesting to see the history of Vienna, but we expected a larger exhibit. Later that day, Maddie, Vienna, Claire, and I booked a trip to Oktoberfest in Munich! We will all be traveling together on the same bus there, but on the way back we are split into two’s (transportation to Oktoberfest was booking up quickly). We will be taking a train over night and will be staying in a tent for the other night. I am hoping to purchase a dirndl for my Oktoberfest trip! We went back to the Film Festival. It was dying down since it was the last day. We were surprised with how empty it was for the last night.

On Monday the 2nd, my German class met in the Rathaus (city hall) building for a tour. The tour was all in German, but I was able to understand some of the tour. I remember one thing that the tour guide said was that it took 64 architects to design the Rathaus. The Rathaus also has a super cool elevator that we all took turns riding. It was defiantly the highlight of the tour. Afterwards, my class went to the Schmetterling Haus Cafe. I got a coffee and Erdberren Mohnkuchen (strawberry poppyseed dessert). I booked some of my fall break trip as well. Nicki, Claudia, and I will be going to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo, and Tromso. While in Tromso, we will be going on a Northern Lights trip. Later that evening, I decided to go for a walk to explore new streets near my apartment. At one point, I was walking and a man (I am assuming he was on his way home from work) was walking like he was going to pass me, so just for fun I sped up to keep the same walking pace as him. We walked by each other for a long time. I decided that this could be a fun activity to do in my free time and it kept me entertained for a little.

During this week, I booked a trip to Zagreb, Croatia with Maddie and Vienna. Our bus stop is pretty close to the hostel, so walking shouldn’t be a problem. We looked into some activities that we could do while there. After booking, we thought we deserved a trip to Cafe Savoy and got desserts. I was kinda mad when the waiter shorted me a euro.

German class got very intense since the finals were September 5th and 6th. On the 5th, Alexa and I had to present a conversation that we made for our oral part of the German intensive exams. Justin in our class made a study guide which really helped out with studying. I studied all day after class for my exam the next day. I was confused on how there are different words in German that are used for written and verbal communication. I had to watch some YouTube videos to help clear that up. On test day, I was not the last to finish, and hope I did a decent job. The exam was sort of long.

On Friday the 6th, I walked around after I finished my exam (10AM). I went in some stores in search for a dirndl and had no luck. Christoph told me to check out H&M or Landhaus. Peek and Cloppenborg on Mariahalferstraße was having “Special Days” that featured food vendors giving out free samples. I got free samples of Lindt chocolate, popcorn, a shot of a ginger drink, chips, and candy. People were also handing out free cans of Hops (nonalcoholic version, unfortunately). I packed up for my weekend trip to Budapest. Later on, I was walking around near my apartment and found a rock store called Mineralien Atelier. I saw that they had necklaces with the rocks, but they were expensive. They also had rocks with holes in them that I could easily make a similar necklace to the ones that they were selling. I picked out a Lace Achat and Baumachat rock for 3,70 each and bought two strings for around 11 euros total. I ended up running into an old woman who was looking for Biebergasse. I pulled it up on my phone and gave her directions in german to Biebergasse.

Soooo… for the trip to Budapest, we were going to meet downstairs at our apartment at 6:35 for our 7:30 bus. One of the girls was apparently not packed yet and was not at all concerned about arriving on time. She came downstairs ready to leave a bit after 7:00. I Googled the address, but since the others had already taken a bus from Vienna, they assured me that they knew exactly where to go (specifically the one girl). I showed them the other location, but the one girl was insistent on the location because she took the bus the week previously. She said how easy it was to get to, etc. While we were walking to the U-Bahn to get to the bus station, she was taking her good ol’ time, not at all concerned about our bus departing in less than 15 minutes. When we got to the bus station, we saw our bus on the sign and it said it was delayed 13 minutes. However, after waiting awhile and asking a worker where platform 45-50 was (he did show us where that platform was), we realized that the bus was at the location that I had Googled. We then had to wait in a huge customer service line for the customer service rep man to tell us it was our fault and he doubted that they would refund us (he did not work for FlixBus). He also told us we would have to hurry to the other building to try to book tickets for the next bus. We went to the next building and talked to that ticket sales man. He seemed pretty confident in the fact that if we emailed FlixBus and sent them proof that we had two tickets going to Budapest for the same night and we only used one, they would most likely refund our ticket. We got our original tickets separately, so we emailed separately (I have not heard back from them yet). The bus ticket was only like 7 euros though. I am still annoyed that under-preparedness is what made us miss the bus. We had to catch another bus for later that night at the other station. The bus was not very full, so we were able to spread out, which was nice. When we arrived in Budapest, the one girl did not want to take the hour walk and wanted to take a cab. Everyone else agreed that we would prefer to walk to save the money (we did hear that the taxi drivers ripped off other IES students the week previously). On our journey, we came across a bakery that was open at 1AM. I got a piece of cake that was like a brownie for super cheap in the HUF currency. When we finally got to the Air B & B, the one girl had issues with trying to get in with the code that the landlady messaged her. Then, when we got the key to the apartment, she had difficulty opening the doors (there were 2 doors to get us to the apartment). She didn’t flip the key and was just attempting to open the door with all of the keys from the one side. I was like… “did you try flipping the key?” then the door immediately opened. I slept on a couch for the weekend. It was actually quite a nice sleep, despite the couch being very firm. On the second night, we saw a roach, but Maddie and I safely removed it from the apartment.

Our day in Budapest was extremely rainy. We saw the parliament building, outside of the Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, walked on the chain bridge, saw Shoes on the Danube, Matthias Church, went to Ruda’s Thermal Baths, and went to an ice bar. We were soaking wet for most of the day. When we went to the Thermal Baths, our clothes dried, but it was pouring when we were leaving, so we were soaking wet again. We went out to eat at a Michelin Restaurant for lunch (it was called 21). I had a fish soup and we all split a nut cake (it was delicious). The ice bar was freezing and the passes we bought allowed us to have 4 drinks, but the drinks were super tiny and we were convinced that they did not contain much alcohol. We spent a total of 15 minutes in there because it was freezing and it did not help that we were still somewhat wet from the thermal baths and rain. We went to another bar where I saw they had a Key West Cooler drink, so of course I had to get it. I have been using my GoPro a ton, so my lack of detail in these blogs will be backed up by GoPro videos.

Next weekend, we are going to Zagreb, Croatia, so we will plan out the trip a bit better. The bus station is also only a 30 minute walk from our hostel. Classes start this week as well, so that is scary, but exciting.

I purchased a ticket for the Rapid Wien vs. Red Bull Salzburg game later on in the month. Toby (one of the IES directors) showed us a video of how intense the fan groups get at soccer games, so it should be pretty exciting.

Speaking German & Getting Bruised

It has been a week since my last post. Since then, I have located a gym right down the road. It is called International Sports Center, or ISC for short. The owner spoke English and showed me around the facility. They have free bathrooms and showers, which apparently isn’t usually free at Austrian gyms. This gym is also one of the only ones that people can go to without joining a year-long membership or having an Austrian bank account. I was able to sign up for 4 months with a 140 euro fee. The gym pricing was comparable, and even cheaper than many other options. It is about a 10 minute walk from my apartment. The gym does not offer classes, but we were told by IES that we could sign up for fitness classes at the Universität Wien for about 20-60 euros. There are many options for fitness classes, but they do not start until the university opens up for the fall semester. The classes would also go into the end of January, but we will all be gone by then.

On the 23rd, I went to the Naschmarkt with Jia and Vienna, but it was closing while we were walking through. We ended up eating at one of the restaurants within the Naschmarkt. I got a salmon and pasta dish. When I returned home, one of my roommates asked if someone could move into the extra bed in Maddie’s and my room. The roommate that asked has a single room, and we didn’t think it was too fair for her to be offering up the bed in our room to people. One of the other roommates was good friends with the girls upstairs and decided to switch with our one friend, Claire. It is nice to have the switch because Claire is good friends with me and my friend group. Also, it turns out that the one roommate told two different people about there being an extra bed in our room. One of the girls in our building wants to live with us too, but I think we are just going to keep things how they are now with just the swap that brought us Claire.

On Saturday the 24th, most of my friends went to Brataslava for the day. I ended up staying back because the concierge who booked my flight gave me a free ring tram tour for that morning. The tour only ended up being 20 minutes and was quite pointless. I will have to find another time to go to Brataslava! Luckily, it is super easy and cheap to get to, so I should be able to make it work another day. I walked along the Danube, admired the graffiti and explored. I met a friend at the Film Festival. I had a strawberry mint spritzer and veggies with rice. Overall, I ended up walking 16 miles on Saturday. It was nice because, I started to get a good grasp of the layout of Vienna through all of my exploring.

On Sunday, Vienna, Camille, and I went to the Vegan Fest. They had this one raffle where you pay 1 euro for 2 tickets and the tickets allow you to redeem some items. I won two vegan burgers and a lotion (totally worth the 1 euro). I made the vegan burger a few days later and it was super good. I think I saw them at the Spar grocery store, so I will have to get them again soon. I also got two free travel-sized bottles of body wash. One of the girls at a vendor booth asked me if I was vegan, and I said that I was pescatarian. She snapped at me and complained about how bad the fish industry was. Little did she know, that I eat eggs for almost every breakfast and lunch. I typically only eat fish when I know it was caught by local fishermen (such as in Key West). She probably attacks people all day for their eating habits, but I think I am doing better than most of America with my pescatarian eating habits. I got a chocolate and apricot ice cream sandwich and enjoyed the Veganfest performances. This one vendor was having a special for buy 3 spreads for 15 euros. We split the deal and I got a mushroom spread. We swam in the Danube, saw boats, and watched as the ducks and swan swam by. After, Claire came to our apartment and she encouraged me to take some personality quizzes. I ended up getting ENFJ-A (I usually get this or ISFJ) and on this enneagram quiz I got 5w6.

When I had advising for my courses while abroad, I was told that my advisor from my home university would have to fill out another form to say that I needed some specific course that I am waitlisted for. I still need to try to get into a sociology. I filled out the form and emailed it to Mrs. Gaydos. She is amazing and sent it to IES minutes later. Apparently this form will help by putting me in the first spot on the waitlist. Hopefully I get in one of the Sociology courses (the Cross-Cultural Philosophy class won’t help me for my 2 degrees), so I will have less classes to worry about when I return to PSUGA. At our open house, I got to meet my professor for Personality Theories and Psychopathology. He seems really nice. At open house they served hummus on bread and cake. Sarah (from PSU University Park), Maddie, Vienna, Jia, and I went and got pizza. When we went past Stephan’s Dom, we saw the cleaning up of a demonstration to spread awareness of the fires in the Amazon.

I have been waking up super early. My body is just on an automatic alarm to wake up between 6 AM and 7. I have an alarm set for 7:00, but have only been awoken by it on Tuesday the 27th. Even on weekends, I wake up early. It is nice because no one else is awake at this time, but the gym doesn’t open here until 9 on weekends and 8 on weekdays. I am used to going to the gym at like 6 or 6:30 AM. I have been prepping my meals by making boiled eggs, shrimp, salmon, prepping veggies, etc. The grocery stores have such fresh food and I am loving how they do not have preservatives.

A nice place that I found to study was the Sigmund Freud park. It is located near the Universität Wien. The first day I went there, there were some shady people, but the park was really nice. They had lawn chairs for anyone to use. The shadiness that I am referring to was how this one woman asked me in German if I had a cigarette and I said no (“nein”). Then a man asked me to buy a paper, and again I said no again. Then she got a cigarette from the paper guy. After that, another shady woman came to the park and sat at the monument which is granite table and chairs. Then, the woman who asked me for a cigarette went and sat with her for awhile and then they both were talking and looking at me. Mind you, the chairs around the table were facing inward, so it was obvious that they were looking at me. Then they started saying stuff like they were talking to me. I just ignored them and did my German homework. Another location that I found to study or do homework was the Rathauspark. The benches aren’t the most comfortable, but it was a decent place to do work, and no one bothered me.

I have also located the Sigmund Freud museum. There is a temporary exhibit down the road from the real one since the real one is under construction. My one class is supposed to go visit it. Maddie, Vienna, and I went to the little Freud store on Liechtensteinstraße.

On the evening of the 27th I brought my dinner to my friends’ apartment upstairs. I also shared my free champagne from the flight to Munich. When I got up there, I ended up getting asked to join a trip for for after our German Intensive finals. I now have a trip planned for Budapest (September 6-8). It was only 26 euros for my share of the room and 18 for the bus round-trip. We wanted to plan a trip to Bosnia and/or Croatia for August 30-September 1, but it was super expensive and not an easy adventure (we would have had to shuttle or take a taxi from Sarajevo to Blagaj which is 2 hours) for the weekend for cheaper routes that we found.

On Thursday, we (Camille, Nikki, Vienna, Jacey, Maddie, and Claire) went to the Film Festival to watch a Amy Winehouse performance. It was awesome. The area was packed, but it was so cool to watch the performance on the big screen. I ate a waffle with banana, nutella, and ice cream. There was lightening and I am thinking I may have a nice shot of it on my GoPro.

On Friday the 29th, I had to go to the Naschmarkt for my German class. Katherine and I had to get the bread. Our teacher wanted us to all get different items like falafel, hummus, bread, drinks, meats, and dips, so we could have breakfast before the test. The bread that Katherine and I were instructed to get was: Semmel, Kornspitz, Wachauerlaibchen, Topfenkolatsche, and Nußkipferl. We ate breakfast, took our first German exam, I went to the gym after class, and then went to meet Jeremy and Justin from my German class to go to the bike tour (provided for free from IES). I ended up crashing the bike twice… It is not that I don’t know how to ride a bike (I relearned a few years ago). I have been quite the avid biker and my bike was my only transportation method to my internship this summer, to the gym, and anywhere else around Key West. I would consider myself a pretty good biker. But, these bikes were not what I was used to. My bike has the break on the pedals (you pedal backwards to slow down or stop). These bikes had handle breaks. I was also trying to video everything, so that doesn’t help. The first time it happened wasn’t too bad, I just got back up. The second time, I was going down a pretty steep hill and saw some swans sitting by the path. I decided to take a video of them (as I am going down hill & picking up speed). Then, I try to slow down and forget that the breaks aren’t the same as my bike, panic and hit the right handle break (still taking video & hit the break too quickly), and fly over the handle bars. I got pretty bruised up, but am okay. Nikki told me that the right break only controls the front wheel, so maybe it wouldn’t have been as drastic if I used the left break. It didn’t really hurt, just stung when I put stuff on it. Watch for these scenes in my study abroad “Bloopers.” The bike tour was super nice though. It was a bit strange seeing naked people sun bathing and standing around as our group biked by though.


At night (Friday), we were going to go to this bar by our apartment called Kisss because it was pajama night and everyone wanted to wear their PJ’s out, but then we realized that it was on Saturday and not Friday. Sadly, we had to change out of our PJ’s. We ended up going to this “disco bar” that Claire found. We did not expect it to be Spanish music (because “disco bar” does not remind anyone of Spanish tunes), but it was super fun. After that we went to the Travel Shack. It was packed, but looks like it would be a nicer place if it wasn’t so busy.

On Saturday, Maddie and I went to a Hofer that was by the Naschmarkt. We walked through some of the flea market (I hope to make it back soon, so I can really look around). There was a vendor selling heads, which looked super creepy (especially the one head’s eye ball). Then, we got ready to go to the Alte Donau. There were so many people boating and paddle boarding. There were more nude sunbathers, including one of the girls from our group. I took a nap, since I physically cannot sleep in. Stores are mostly closed on Saturdays, so Claire found a Spar that was open. We went there and got juice and vodka. We wanted to make Piña Coladas, but Spar didn’t have pineapple or coconut juice, so we got grapefruit and cranberry. We found a bus stop nearby that would take us near our apartment. Claire shared her cookies while we waited. It was getting late and we were all hungry. I made myself salmon and broccoli for dinner (quite delicious). Maddie, Jacey, Vienna, and I watched Momma Mia (I went to sleep before it ended).

My German is “improving”… an old lady was standing on the stairs at our apartment and I said Gruß Gott to her, which is a common Austrian greeting. I said nein to both the cigarette lady and the newspaper man. I say “danke” the the people handing out coffee coupons (I love coming home from the gym because I pass them and get coupons almost daily), and the freebies that I got from Mariahalferstrasse (tea and a sleep mask). A man told me there was a “schlange” (snake) in the Danube. A woman asked me what time it was and I said “Es ist vier Uhr.” I also think I am better understanding the German that I learned years ago.

IES gave us monthly passes for the public transportation (we still have to pay, but it is 50% off). The public transportation is super handy, and we just realized the other day that the passes also work for the public bus.

Rammstein… jaaaa!

Our orientation was held at the JUFA Hotel. I roomed with 2 girls, both were named Kathrine. This made remembering names much easier. During orientation, we walked around the neighboring area of the JUFA, which was surrounded by apartments. There was a grocery store nearby that some of us decided to go to to see what the stores looked like so we could be prepared for when we shop later. Some of the girls who I was with for the grocery store did not know what the sign on the door said, and they attempted to exit a door that was not an exit. The worker got mad and we looked like dumb Americans. Our orientation meals were alright, nothing special. Most of the meals were hosted in the hotel in a buffet style. I noticed that the eggs were a little bit different in appearance and taste. The egg yolk has a bit more of a bright golden/orange color to it. The hotel had soft boiled eggs, which was exciting to try out. On Tuesday we got to go on a bus tour, see the Belvedere palace from the outside, Hundertwasser House, see Stephansplatz and the cathedral, and see where the IES Abroad building is. On a Tuesday evening, we ate at the Rosenberger, which was also a buffet. We all had to buy a week-long pass for the U-Bahn, which was quite expensive. Starting in September, we will be able to have month passes for 25 euros, which is a super good deal. On Wednesday, we had a meeting about our apartments and we found out that the RA that was supposed to live with us dropped out. Our apartment ended up having one room with 1 bed, one room with 3 beds, and one room with 2 beds. We have a bathroom with a shower, sink, and bathtub. There is also a closet with just a toilet. We just have a washer, no dryer, so we have to use racks to dry our clothes. Air conditioning isn’t really a thing here, so windows are what keeps us cool. Flo, our building RA said that the windows are old and could break. This means they could potentially fall out the window and onto the street which sounds scary. We each had to put down a 50 euro deposit for our key and 40 euros for the washing machine. We all unpacked our stuff and went grocery shopping. It seems like everyone in my apartment wants to buy groceries for each other and split the check. I don’t think that’s a good idea, so I suggested we buy our own things for now. I just like knowing what food I have in the fridge, so I can plan my meals accordingly.  We started our German Intensive Classes the next day (Thursday at 9AM). The teacher basically only speaks German so it’s rough with trying to understand everything she says. We got a tour of the IES center which is super nice and old. Definitely doesn’t have the same style as PSUGA. After class, I asked the center where to purchase my Austrian SIM card, asked for recommendations on local gyms, and asked where to find notebooks. They gave me the name of a place to find a notebook which was called Pagro. I looked it up and followed my screenshotted directions. It was a little confusing to find because this hotel was really like a mall and it didn’t clearly label that the store I was looking for was in it. I went into this one store to enter the mall and ran into some fellow IES students. I asked them if they got their notebooks yet and they didn’t know where to find them, so it was nice for us all to search for Pagro together. Vienna, Emily, and I decided to go walk around to find a park (Burggarten) and have lunch. I packed my lunch (hard boiled eggs, spinach, and tomatoes), and they grabbed theirs at a grocery store. We sat down and talked for awhile. I told them how I saw a bunch of people wearing Rammstein T-shirt’s and how I was thinking there almost had to be a concert. I didn’t have service on my phone, so I couldn’t really look it up. Vienna looked it up and found that there was a concert on Thursday and Friday night at the Ernst Happel Stadium. We decided to be spontaneous and made a plan to go check it out. Tickets were expensive, so we were fine with hanging out in the area. My roommate, Maddie, tagged along. When we got there, nearly everyone was wearing all black for the concert. I wore black and grey. Vienna and Maddie stood out a bit more. When we left the concert, we got off the U-Bahn at a random stop to find food. I got a California sushi roll at a restaurant that was right around the corner. It was delicious.

Missed Flight & Lost Luggage

My original flight plan was to fly from Pittsburgh to Montreal to Vienna. Well, the Pittsburgh flight with Air Canada got delayed, making me miss my flight from Montreal to Vienna. When I got to the airport in Montreal, I saw the plane still there, but boarding was already closed. I went to the customer service desk, which was very busy and only had one customer service rep. When I finally got to the front, the woman said she would send me to Munich, then Vienna. I was told to go to the gate for the Munich flight with Luftsansa and they would print my boarding pass. When I got to Gate 61 the guy said they didn’t have a ticket for me. I then went back to customer service, and waited again in the grown line. This time, there was a family who was on my flight from Pittsburgh and a guy named Mark, also from Pittsburgh. The child from the one family was crying and they were out of tissues, so I gave them mine because I was not crying and I felt bad for the kid. The guy (Mark) left to go claim his ticket for his flight that was moved to Munich and he had the same issue and was told by the Gate 61 rep that “the lady does not know how to do her job.” We were given $20 meal vouchers, but the plane was to depart soon, so I stalked up on protein bars and a giant bottle of water. On the flight to Munich, I was seated in the same row as Mark from Pittsburgh. During the flight, the attendant asked if I would consider switching seats with a lady who had a baby since my seat (had extra leg room) was one of the few that a baby bed could go in. I proceeded to switch (only moving the stuff at my seat), and then the lady decided she didn’t want to sit there. So, the flight attendant gave me a bottle of champagne and candy bar (I figured it would be good for move-in day for my apartment). I was also pretty excited to be flying back to Deutschland, jaaaa! The transfer went pretty smoothly. On my flight to Vienna, they served us these really interesting (and delicious) heart shaped crackers. I tried sleeping most of the flight, and everyone spoke German. My luggage was lost with some people from Denver. We all went to the Austrian Air customer service desk. The customer service rep, David was super nice and very tall. He gave me recommendations for places to go and we chatted a lot about the US and Austria. He gave me a little travel kit with a white t-shirt, and travel necessities, all contained in an Austrian Air pouch. He also let me keep an Austrian Air pen, but it just says Austrian. It will be my official Austrian pen. My luggage did not arrive the day it was supposed to (August 20). It ended up arriving in the early afternoon of Wednesday the 21st which was move-in day. Luckily, my apartment was one of those who did not leave early in the morning to move-in! I did have extra clothes packed in my carry-on for orientation.

If you see my mom…

If you happen to see my mom anytime between August 18th through December 21st, make sure you tell her I will be okay and to stop worrying about me. She will be traveling to Vienna soon anyways, so it really isn’t a full 4 months of her not seeing me.

Funny story… When I was in high school, I took a trip to Germany, Switzerland, and Austria with my school’s German Club. Since so many of us were traveling, we all left the high school early to be at the airport with plenty of free time, just incase. Now during this time, I would have been in school anyways, so my mom shouldn’t have even noticed my absence. She called me several times while I was still at the Pittsburgh airport. I wasn’t even out of the state yet! Even my teacher, Herr Jordan, saw that I was on the phone with my mom for an excessive amount of time and noticed her frequent calls, and he said “Is that your mom calling again?!”

Here is my mom and I at the Fleetwood Mac Concert for my birthday last year (photo inserted for reference, incase you see her in public and need to tell her I am okay) .

So, considering that background story, what would make you think that my mom would waste an opportunity to spend the final minutes with me while I am still in the country… She booked a flight to depart shortly after mine to conveniently be in the airport terminal with me.

Anyhow, as a departing gift, I got my mom a little turtle from the East Martello Museum in Key West. I also made us special distance bracelets with some of our favorite stones. Amethyst is one of her favorites and Citrine is one of mine. The bracelets remind me of our matching tattoos that we got last summer. The tattoos have lavender and buttercup flowers. Lavender is one of her favorite flowers and my mom used to call me ‘Buttercup’ when I was little. So, we made a design that incorporated both flowers and got them permanently placed onto our bodies.


I am not going to lie, I started packing shortly after I found out I was accepted to my study abroad program. I did not want to waste ANY time! I know it may have sounded a bit excessive to start packing so early (in March!), but I had a busy summer ahead, and I wanted to make sure I did not forget anything!

I read blogs from other students, strongly encouraging others to only bring one suitcase… challenge accepted. I always have been an “over-packer,” but after reading up on the blogs and watching the Netflix documentary, Minimalism, I was determined to fit all my necessities for the next 4 months into 1 suitcase (carry-on backpack & purse as well). It is a fairly large suitcase (28 inches, brand new for the trip from Kohl’s), but nonetheless it is only one suitcase! Minimalist traveler, here I come. To add on to the challenge, I had to pack for 3 seasons and make sure my suitcase weighed less than 50 pounds!

Here is my complete packing list…

  • Shoes
    • 1 Pair of Short Sperry Boots
    • 1 Pair of Black Nike Tennis Shoes
    • 1 Pair of Sketchers Shoes in Nude (Lightweight & Comfortable)
    • 1 Pair of Flip Flops
  • Dresses
    • Ballgown (aka. my old prom dress… For the Viennese Ball, of course!)
    • 2 Sweater Dresses
  • Tops
    • 2 Cardigans (Black & Grey)
    • 1 Flannel
    • 1 White Sweater
    • 4 Long Sleeve T-Shirts (Black, Green, Grey w/ White Stripes, White)
    • 6 Quarter-Sleeve Shirts (Red, Blue w/ White Stripes, White w/ Black Polka Dots, Black w/ White Freckles, Black, Black & White Design)
    • 1 Long Sleeve Penn State T-Shirt
    • 1 Salty Dog T-Shirt
    • 4 Pairs of Workout T-Shirts (Dark Pink, Light Purple, Blue, Black)
    • 5 Plain T-Shirts (Grey, Black, White (2), Green)
    • 1 Athletic Tank Top
    • 7 Casual Tank Tops
    • 5 Dressier Tank Tops
    • 1 Tie Dye T-Shirt (one of my favorites)
    • 2 Halter Tops
    • 6 Nicer T-Shirts
    • 1 Jean Jacket
  • Bottoms
    • 3 Pairs of Compression Shorts
    • 2 Pairs of Flowy Pants
    • 4 Pairs of Workout Leggings (Grey/Light Pink, Grey, White & Grey Tie Dye, Black)
    • 1 Pair of Athletic Shorts
    • 1 Pair of Jean Shorts
    • 2 Pairs of Nicer Shorts (Green, Black & White Design)
    • 1 Pair of Athleta Headlands Hybrid Pants in Black (my favorite)
    • 2 Pairs of Jeans
    • 2 Pairs of Leggings (Red, Black)
    • 2 Pairs of Tights
    • 2 Skirts (Black & Jean)
    • 1 Pair of Business-Style Black Leggings
  • Necessities
    • 2 Bralettes
    • 3 Bras
    • 7 Pairs of Short Socks
    • 3 Pairs of Higher Socks
    • 14 Pairs of Underwear
    • 1 Electric Converter
    • 2 Towels (1 Regular Towel & 1 Microfiber Fast Drying)
    • 1 Laundry Bag
    • Razor
    • 2 Toothbrushes
  • Weather Gear
    • 1 Rain Coat
    • 1 Winter Coat
    • 1 Winter Hat/Beanie
    • 1 Ear Warmer
    • 1 Pair of Gloves
  • Beauty Products
    • 1 Bottle of Shampoo & Conditioner
    • 1 Bottle of Face Wash
    • 1 Bottle of Face Moisturizer
    • 1 Bottle of Toothpaste
    • 2 Bottles of Travel Sized Toothpaste
    • 2 Travel Sized Deodorants
    • 1 Travel Sized Shampoo and Conditioner
    • Small Makeup Bag
    • Razor
    • Nail Care Bag w/ 2 Nail Polish Bottles
    • Toothbrush
  • Other
    • 1 Foldable Tote
    • 1 Small Backpack
    • Small Scissors
    • Bag of Lavender
    • Resistance Bands for Exercise

My carry-on purse is Baggalini’s crossbody Travel Hobo. This purse was gifted to me from the lovely ladies that I worked with this summer for my internship at We’ve Got the Keys in Key West, Florida. The bag was a gift for the completion of my internship and a way to remember the awesome gals I worked with this summer! Thank you & shout-out to Nadene, Lindsey, and Maria!

My carry-on bag contains…

  • Passport
  • Euros
  • iPad (courtesy of PSU Greater Allegheny)
  • Educated (PSUGA Reads Summer 2019 book, Thanks Larissa & Mēlan!)
  • Pocket German-English Translation Dictionary
  • Journal
  • RFID-Blocking Wallet
  • Headphones
  • Refillable Water Bottle
  • Pens & Pencils
  • Bag of Lavender
  • Portable Charger
  • Snacks (Pistachios & Chocolate Covered Almonds)
  • Travel Essential Oil Case
  • Cell Phone Charger
  • Floss
  • Deodorant
  • Jewelry
  • Tissues
  • Extra Cell Phone for Austrian SIM Card
  • Chapstick
  • Watch Set to EST
  • Eye Drops
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Rocks

Whenever I arrive in Vienna, Austria, I will have an overnight orientation, so I packed my orientation items in my backpack carry-on. The orientation is 2 nights long, so it is nice to have these items separate since my luggage is stored at the hotel separate from my carry-ons.

My carry-on backpack contains…

  • Flip Flops
  • Rain Coat
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimsuits (2)
  • 2 Outfits & Pajamas for Orientation
  • Jeans
  • Travel Shampoo & Conditioner
  • Body Wash
  • Toothpaste
  • Travel Pillow
  • Laptop
  • Lotion
  • Toothbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Essential Oils (Stress Away Roll-on & Bottle, Thieves Roll-On & Bottle, Lavender (2), Christmas Spirit (2), Peace & Calming, Digize, Lemon, Breathe Again Roll-On, Deep Relief Roll-On, Davana)
  • Thieves Sore Throat Spray
  • Waterproof Backpack Cover
  • Passport Wallet
  • Outlet Converters
  • Mini First-Aid Kit
  • Wipes
  • Q-Tips
  • Chapstick
  • GoPRO & Accessories
  • Wash Cloth
  • Travel Documents

What I wore for my flight:

  • Black Nike Tennis Shoes
  • Black Athletic T-Shirt
  • Grey/Light Pink Leggings
  • Jean Jacket

Rae’s Reisen

Hey Everyone! 

It’s ‘Captain Rae Rae’ here, about ready to embark on a trip to live in Vienna, Austria! Last summer, I received my Captain’s License. Ever since, then my friends have been calling me “Captain Rae Rae.” Don’t worry, my license is only valid for U.S. waters.

If you are unfamiliar with German, you might be wondering what “Rae’s Reisen” means. ‘Reisen’ means ‘to travel’ in German. So, my blog title translates to “Rae’s Travels”, but we all love a little alliteration.

Stay tuned as I explore the world; casually go to the market while wearing a dirndl; learn how to ski in the Austrian alps; find the hills and see if they really are alive with the sound of music; become a coffee addict and order an Einspänner; master public transportation; make Herr Jordan proud and put my high school German ability to the test; learn the Viennese Waltz; attend a Viennese ball; ride the famous Riesenrad; visit as many Christmas markets as possible; escape to Oktoberfest; slide into a salt mine; and celebrate my birthday the Austrian way!

Follow along with my blog as I document my entire study abroad journey!