Austria: May 14-June 21, 2008
Sarah Iserman, a rising senior early childhood education major and German minor at Shorter, is individually studying abroad at Salzburg College in Salzburg, Austria. She will also be traveling around Germany.
Well, let me start out by letting you know that Austria is out of the EUROcup, but that’s ok because they lost to Germany. Fans are still everywhere and going crazy!! Tonight the game is once again in Salzburg. I am hoping to go to the FanZone and watch in the public viewing area. That is, if weather permits.
Friday after classes, two friends and I took a late train to Venice, Italy, for the weekend. We met up with a friend of mine from Shorter, Amy Goggins!! She has been studying in Rome, Italy, (not Georgia!) during the time I have been in Salzburg. We met up in the train station and started out to see the unique city. Unfortunately, it rained all morning. This did not stop us from wandering around the many islands and seeing a lot of the city. Of course, we also had to indulge in some Italian cuisine. We took the opportunity to go to St. Mark’s Square, and because of the weather, it was not very crowded. It was so beautiful!!
Shorter students Amy Goggins and Sarah Iserman in Venice, Italy
Sarah Iserman and friends Marc and Ima in Venice, Italy
After wandering and seeing most of the main islands, we ventured over to Murano. This is where the famous Venetian glass comes from. We saw so many pretty creations. This was also a great place to buy gifts and souvenirs. I bought a watch for myself that will be a wonderful keepsake. My friend Ima bought one, too, so we got a deal on them. Italians seem to be able to create anything out of glass. We saw large sculptures on the island also, which were magnificent.
Our hotel was on the Lido Island. We took the Vaporetto, which is the form of a bus, to the island. The Vaporetto is a large boat set up like a bus. Since you can only reach the islands by waterways, this mode of transportation is not only fun but also necessary. Once checked in to our hotel, we went out for dinner. I had a wonderful pizza!! We walked around the island for awhile after dinner. Before going to bed, we watched a little of “Mrs. Doubtfire” in Italian!
Sunday morning, Amy had to leave early to catch her flight back to Rome. The three of us went back to the main islands to walk around some more and see the city in the sunshine. Everything was so beautiful. There were a lot of tourists (I fear hardly any natives are left). It was a beautiful city and a lovely experience. Before catching the train to go back to Salzburg, we had another Italian meal; I had lasagna, followed by gelato. Italian food is definitely still my favorite! We returned home with time to grab some dinner. We ate a Turkish sandwich called a Doener-Kabap. They are a bread filled with meat, lettuce and tomato with a special sauce. They are very filling and very cheap!
Monday I had class most of the day, and then in the evening, I went to a student performance concert from Salzburg College. My roommate was playing a piece and doing a lecture on it. I also had the opportunity to hear the vocalists from the program do solos. After the concert, we went to a local café to watch the football game and eat ice cream.
Yesterday, Tuesday, was pretty focused on school. I had class, worked on my paper for my EU class, and went on a field trip. After the field trip I took a break to call home and talked to my mom and Chris for a bit. I went home for dinner and continued to work on schoolwork. This has been a typical day for me while here in Salzburg. Tomorrow I have my finals and I am leaving Salzburg on Friday evening to head back to Germany! I hope all are well in the USA. I will see you in less than a month!! Time is sure flying!!!
I guess you wonder what I am up to... As I write this, I am taking part in a favorite of Austrians, the Euro Cup. I am watching the “football game” of Austria vs. Poland. (Sadly, the score is currently not in our favor…). Time here is wrapping up, and I am taking every opportunity possible to enjoy every second.
Last weekend (which began on June 5), I went to Prague. A group of us decided to make this our destination for our travel weekend. We went for four days. We stayed a little outside of the city in a hostel. This was my first hostel experience, and I had no problems with it. We did stay in a residence hall room which housed 32 people! It was an experience. We went out and explored the city everyday, trying to avoid tourist traps. We made this our goal after falling into one; we went to the “Medieval Torture Museum”. Interesting right? Not so much… it was all replicas and drawings and printouts, we suspect from the internet. We learned our lesson though and avoided paying for anything else. Some churches even required payment for entry.
I did get a bit sick while in Prague and got to see what a Czech ambulance is like, which made me truly appreciate American medicine. I had a spell like I did a year ago, of dizziness and such, and since we were out, we called the ambulance for assistance. I was fine after a few hours and followed the recommendation of rest and water and was fine the next day.
We got back to Salzburg late on Sunday and went back to our home (my roommate also came to Prague.) On Monday, we returned to classes. We also returned to a city full of Swedes. The first game to be played in Salzburg was on Tuesday. Austria and Switzerland are hosting the Euro Cup this year, so it is a big deal for such a small city. I thought the tourists before were bad, but the football fans have really taken over the city. It is fun to see the spirit and enthusiasm, but it is also tiring. The rest of this week has not really been much to brag about. I have been at school most of the day, and whenever possible, I try to take a break and sit by the river and read.
I am actually babysitting right now!! (You know I can never say no to that). A large percentage of the students at Salzburg College are from the University of Florida, and they bring two advisors with them. These advisors are married and brought their two daughters. I quickly volunteered to watch them if they ever needed a night out! So here I am. : )
Well I have one week left in Salzburg, and time sure flies! I hope to have a lot to tell everyone about after this week. I have a lot of plans to fulfill before I leave this city. I also have schoolwork and finals competing for my time. Hope all is well, and I will see you in a month!!!
I have been quite busy since my last update. (Hence the lack of an update!) My classes are going quite well, and it is hard to believe that this week we have midterms! I love my European Union class. The teacher has a way of just allowing us to absorb information. In the past weeks, I have done several exciting things including: going to Munich, going to Sunday service at a Cathedral, riding a bike for an afternoon, visiting two concentration camps, visiting the house Mozart “grew up in” (he was traveling almost his entire life), visiting the Chamber of Industry, going to the trick fountains at Hellburnn Palace, not to mention all I did in Vienna on the trip I just got back from!! I wish I could tell every detail of each of these adventures, but it would take too much time and I am afraid I may bore you.
Downtown Munich, Germany
The Entrance to Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich, Germany
Dachau’s entry gate. The German translates “Work makes one free.”
I have loved every second of being here!! I see and experience new things everyday. Even the water is so good here! (It comes from the Alps.) One other event that is noteworthy is a visit to an Austrian restaurant on Wednesday night. Last week we found it playing traditional music and loved it. My roommate, Jennifer, was asking about the kinds of music they play, and told the employee that she plays piano and writes her own songs. He ends up asking her to play one so he can hear it, then asks her to come back on Wednesday evening and play!! So, on Wednesday, a few of us go with her, and she played for awhile. It was so much fun!! She played her songs and sang. They were all original compositions. Not something I get to experience everyday.
Thursday morning, we left very early to travel by bus to Vienna. On the way we stopped at Mauthausen, a concentration camp. The experience was very moving and remarkable. The most intense part was a film we watched before walking around the property. It included several interviews with survivors. It was nearly impossible to not be effected by their stories. Afterwards we walked around and saw the horrible place where so many lost their lives.
We arrived in Vienna later on and checked into our hotel. We then took a walking tour through Vienna and got acquainted with the city. After our tour we all ate at a traditional restaurant. Friday we started the day with a bus tour of the city and saw many beautiful sights. Our hotel was right next to the Museum Quarter, so it was a good central location to get around the city. In the afternoon we visited the UN Headquarters in Vienna. That evening we saw Falstaff at the State Opera House. We were able to get standing room only tickets very cheap, but we ended up not staying for the whole performance because we could not stand any longer. But the first half was good!!
Sarah and friends in Vienna
Sarah in Vienna
Saturday was mostly on our own. We visited a military history museum in the morning and saw the car and the bullet hole which started the first World War. Some of my friends and I decided to have a picnic in the park for lunch, and then we visited the Museum of Natural History. We saw zillions of stuffed animals (any you could imagine!!) and my friend Sloane, who is a zoology major, went with us and told us all about them!! After the museum we went back to the hotel for a bit, until dinner. For dinner we all wanted Italian, so we found a place off the beaten path. It was delicious!! Afterwards, we meant up with some friends of my friend Diana. We ended up meeting them at a Vegan Festival, and hung out there for a little while. Afterwards we went in search of a coffee house to get some dessert!!
This morning we loaded the bus after breakfast and started our way out of Vienna. We went for a tour of Schoenbrunn Palace and explored the gardens. We ate a picnic lunch in the park and then we decided to go through the hedge maze!! It was a lot of fun, and harder than I had expected. We had one more stop on our way back, at Melic Monastery. This was a very beautiful and large place. After some time there we all got back on the bus to finish our journey home.
I am having the time of my life here. I find it hard to believe that I am halfway through my stay!! I have several more adventures ahead of me still… This week is midterms, though, so I will be busy studying away. (this would be so much easier if I didn’t have to do all this school work!!) haha.
My German is improving slightly, but not as much as I had hoped. I learn lots everyday, though... like, not to use the word for “to go” when talking about distances because you need to say you are driving, even if you are not the one doing the driving!! (I learned that when I told someone we were walking to Vienna.) My host mother says it is improving, but she may just be being nice. Don’t expect perfection when I return~!! ; ). I hope you all are enjoying your summers and taking care of yourselves. I miss you all and I can’t wait to be home, but not enough to come home yet!
I have been gone a couple weeks now, and have enjoyed a variety of adventures. My trip to Europe was pretty uneventful. I was fortunate to be sitting near some Navy recruits who were on their way to Basic. One of them was even from Rome!! I talked to them on the plane to Chicago and grabbed some dinner with them once I got there. I was in plenty of time for my overseas flight, which was very comfortable (I got two seats to sleep on). I arrived in Frankfurt and grabbed my train to Koln where I met Jamie and Chrissy!! It was so wonderful to spend some time with them!! I have missed them so much.
I stayed with them in their apartment in the city of Wuppertal for about a week. While I was there, we spent a lot of time in the beautiful sunshine. One day we even went out by the lake with some friends and grilled!! We also met some of Chrissy’s friends in the evenings. On Monday we went to dinner at Chrissy’s mom’s new house. Tuesday we spent some time around the city (Jamie’s restaurant is closed on Tuesdays). Wednesday I caught an early train to start my journey to Salzburg. I had to take three trains and luckily I made them all on time!! I arrived in Salzburg at my “home” around five o’clock. I met my host mother who is a sweet little older lady. Around seven my roommate, Jennifer, came. She is from Chicago. We then ate a delicious supper and went to bed early.
A street in Salzburg showing the Fortress.
Thursday we had our orientation at the college. We learned about some of the culture and then went on a walking tour of important places around the city. After supper, Elisabeth (my host mother) took Jennifer and I on a walk around the neighborhood. On our walk she pointed out the home of the Van Trapp family as well as the home of Brahms. Both of which are in our neighborhood!!
Friday was the first day of classes. Everyday we have lunch at the school. The school has a woman who cooks all of the meals, and they are certainly divine! I have not had a meal yet that was not amazing (and much better than any American fast food.) I only had one class in the afternoon, because my other class wasn’t starting yet. I had my German class. The class is only me and one other student, and she has had six years of language courses! The course is going to be a challenge, but I should learn a lot about the language during my time here. Friday evening was a Welcome Dinner with the host families. My host mother was unable to come, so I sat with some other “orphans”.
Saturday we had an early morning. We went on a walking historical tour of the city. It was interesting to hear and see all about the significance of my temporary home. A few of my friends and I had a picnic lunch by the river (which goes right through the town, because back in the day the salt would be transported by river.) That evening we went to an amazing concert at the Mozarteum. There were three pieces preformed by an outstanding orchestra. The pieces featured the violin. The evening of music was super!
Sunday we were out all day doing a tour the Salzkommergut. This is a series of lakes and the villages associated with them. We made several different stops, but the weather was not very good so we were unable to swim or do very much. We did go to some interesting towns and see some interesting traditions. One town used to excavate human remains and paint the skulls and place them in a small building. (I have a more detailed explanation if you would like to read it.) It was good to see some of the smaller towns, since Salzburg is so commercialized and a huge tourist attraction.
Monday was another day of classes, but I still had not started my European Union class. After class I did some work for my German class then went to bed fairly early.
Tuesday was another busy day. In the morning we had a special lecture about Mozart and his work. At lunch, we had a designated “German Only” table. Testing out some of my skills on non-natives was a bit easier than talking to all of the locals. However, I am one of the few in the program who knows any German, so I am useful when it comes to ordering and such. After lunch I had a discussion with my German teacher, and she talked with some of the faculty, and they decided it would be best if I went to the Beginning German class to get a better grip on my fundamentals, and then come to the Advanced German class for half of the time, to go a little further. That way the more advanced student could also go further. This sounded great to me because all I want to do is learn the language so I can communicate, and the more I am around it, hopefully the more I will learn!!
After German class, I went with a friend to a local café for hot chocolate and pretzels (they didn’t serve the pretzels there, we snuck them in…hehe) The weather has still been rainy and yucky so it was very refreshing. My European Union class is later in the day, because the teacher holds another job. We met for the first time, and I think this class is going to be very interesting. I do not know a lot about the way Europe operates, and already after one class I have a better understanding of these countries.
I love it here and I am learning so much. I hope that reading this wasn’t too boring and I can’t wait to share more interesting knowledge with you all. I hope you are doing well and I will do my best to get some photos up soon!! I miss you all so much and I can’t wait to share lots of stories and hear some when I return.
Well stage one of my journey is almost complete. I got to Wuppertal, where Jamie (my brother) and Chrissy live on Wednesday. We have spent the week causing all kinds of trouble around town. It has been absolutely wonderful!!! i hadn’t seen them in nearly two years.
Tomorrow morning (while all of you are still sleeping...) I will take the train to Salzburg to where the real fun begins. I will meet my host family and begin to get acquainted with my life for the next six weeks. I am super nervous!!! Please pray for me if you think of it. I wish I knew more about them but for now I only have the address.
Well that’s about it. I will be keeping updates regularly and will be comparing the cultures for my independent study, so if you want to read those also just let me know. Hope all is well in the U.S.
Click here to read an excerpt from Sarah's cultural comparison diary for her independent study course.