Monday, January 13, 2014

Hallo! First Post in Österreich!

Guten tag from Wien! After one of the most stressful weeks of my life, I finally feel oriented and unstressed enough to tell you all about my adventure of getting to Vienna, Austria for my semester of study abroad.

There was sobbing in the middle of O'Hare Airport,  a blubbering voicemail to the Webster  Study Abroad office, utter glee when they agreed to rebook me onto a flight, $20 worth of free food, lost luggage, early morning sun in Frankfurt, Germany, a foggy taxi ride to Webster University Vienna, and joy now that I am finally settled.

My flight directly from Chicago to Vienna was scheduled to depart on Monday, 06 January at 4:10pm. The flight was delayed to take off around 5:30pm. In hopes that we would depart and that I soon would be in a deep sleep far above the clouds, I happily boarded the plane and proceeded to snack on airplane pretzels and watch Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine (I enjoyed that immensely). After three hours of sitting on the plane not budging from the gate, the captain announced that we could not fly and that we all needed to disembark the aircraft immediately. Next shot: complete chaos.

Imagine about 125 people crowding a single computer and yelling in various language such as English, German, Polish, Spanish, and French, while a couple of women from Austrian Air attempt to accommodate every single person in an orderly fashion. It was insanity. I decided to head home and sleep in my bed for a night after meeting a sweet hipster Austrian couple and discovering that I had no way of getting on a flight that evening. I did invite the couple to sleep on my couch because no hotels were available as I was leaving, but they declined the offer.

The next morning, I am on the phone with Austrian Air at 8:30am praying that I am rebooked and off to Austria by the afternoon. Many minutes of waltzing music is followed by good news that I am to be flying to Vienna in the afternoon.

The next thing I know, I am throwing my bags to the ground and trying to hold back tears at the Austrian Air desk. I was told there was no seat available for, there was no way I was flying to Austria that day, and that they they could not rebook my flight. I then proceeded to embarrass myself in front of many airport patrons by sobbing and begging to be put on any flight. To my surprise, my slight tantrum was very productive. I go from being completely ignored to having a seat on a flight to Frankfurt at 6:00pm and a $20 food voucher. Success.

Once arriving in Frankfurt, I hoped on a morning flight to Vienna. I was so overjoyed to finally be in Europe. I encountered the hipster Austrian couple again at the baggage claim in Vienna and we hugged and celebrated that we all made it. Below is a photo from above the clouds:

The latter half of my week was fantastic. Besides the airline losing my luggage and being exhausted from traveling, I've had a great adjustment to Wien.

A List of Things I've Discovered and Accomplished These Last Six Days in Wien
- I've taken my first solo international flight. I became a better traveler because of the airline troubles.
- I've moved overseas to a country in which I know very little of the native language. I'll be living here for the next four months and immerse myself in the Viennese culture and lifestyle.
- I've successfully ordered meals in German.
- I've tasted many wonderful cups of coffee! I've also ordered all of them in German. Thank goodness for the Viennese coffee house culture because I can usually enjoy a delicious food and drink, catch up with friends, and sometimes get free WiFi!
- Webster University Vienna took us to the Leopold Museum (modern Austrian art), and I've fallen in love with Gustav Klimt's work! Each piece is breathtaking. Klimt's Death and Life is my favourite so far:

I cannot wait to visit the Belvedere and be mesmerised by The Kiss.
- The wine in Vienna is especially good and bottles can be inexpensive (two to six euro). One of the first night's here, I enjoyed a dry white wine, although it was difficult to capture a decent photo of the label:

When I went to the grocery store the other day, Hofer (which is also Aldi), I purchased a good bottle of red wine. The Blaufränkisch grape is grown throughout central Europe, and it was delicious:

- The public transportation here in Vienna is spectacular. It is incredibly efficient! To get to the university, I have to take a tram, the U-Bahn (train/subway), and a bus. Every time I reach the platform it seems as if the mode I need is pulling right into the station. Below is the U1 line for the U-Bahn:

- So many languages and so much culture! Whether I'm at the Webster University Vienna campus or walking in  Stephansplatz, I am surrounded by people from all over the globe. It makes me ecstatic to be making friends on an international level, and I know I will learn an incredible amount from these interactions.

Classes at the university begin today. I'm excited to be back in a school setting after many months off. I also hope to travel this coming weekend.



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