Sunday, September 15, 2013

Weekend in Gaming

The weekend of September 13-15, Marissa and I decided to stay in Gaming rather than travel because we had 4 tests and 3 summaries due the next week. It was so nice to be on campus and have only a few other people around. It was so quiet and we really got to know the other people who stayed behind.  
On Friday, after studying all morning, we asked Matt Peter if he would take us hiking. We wanted to do Book Mountain, but he wanted to do the Russian Hut, so we ended up going to the Russian Hut. Marissa, Matt, Ryan and I headed out around 2pm and walked down the road to the mountain. Matt has already hiked book mountain twice, been to the caves at least twice and had tried to find the Russian hut before without a map. So he’s leading the way up the trail and he decides to take a short cut and just run up the side of the mountain to the next path rather than walk down the path about 30 yards to where it curved up to get us to the same spot. So we ran up the side of the mountain and I was all out of breath by the time we were on the trail again. Matt just keeps marching on ahead totally unfazed. So we’re hiking, and hiking, and hiking and I’m pretty sure I’m about to die, when all of a sudden I got a leg cramp. We all had to stop until the cramp let up and then Matt continues running (not really though) on ahead. We passed all these little grottos where the stations of the cross were painted and some of the mysteries of the rosary.
We got to a level part of the mountain and then I got a foot cramp. It was awful. But we kept plowing on ahead following the sketch the RA had drawn for Matt. As we were going along, Ryan decided to wander down this little path to see where it lead and he stumbled across the Russian Hut. The guys were expecting this great hut that they were eventually planning on camping in and apparently ten guys can fit in. It was this little fort that ten guys can maybe fit in if they’re standing up sandwiched together. Not only that, the hut looks like it’s on sticks and the ladder to get up to it had a few broken sticks (aka rungs). It’s also on the side of a cliff bolted to a tree.
Matt of course climbed up it and Ryan followed him up. The whole thing was swaying a little bit so Marissa and I were decided that there was absolutely no way we were going up there. But after the guys came down, we went up anyways. I went up first and  it was swaying a little bit. Then I got to the top and looked down while Marissa was coming up (and shaking the whole thing, unintentionally, in the process) and remembered how scared I was of heights. When she got up, Matt took our picture and then she climbed down first. All the way down she kept commenting on how scary it was to go down but when I went down, it wasn’t scary at all.
We decided to head back down the mountain because it was sprinkling and all the way down for a full hour, Ryan recounted all his expeditions with his cousins in high school. When we got back to campus, it was about 4:30 and we came in washed all our stuff because it was kinda muddy.
The next morning at breakfast, I was talking with a few girls about where they had travelled and when they asked us what we did, I told them we went hiking. They asked us how it was and I was like, “It was great except Matt was going so fast I thought I was gonna die. But don’t tell him I said that.” It turns out that Matt was standing at the counter behind me so he overheard it. Shannon said that he was totally cool with it because she ran into him later in the day and he was telling her about it.
On Saturday we did home work all day and then walked into town in the afternoon to get dessert at the local café. I had this dessert that was two layers of chocolate cake with banana cream in the middle and a half a banana on top. The whole thing was covered with dark chocolate and it was pretty good although I wouldn’t eat it again. Marissa stopped at Spar and got gelato and when we got in line to check out, these two ladies chattered to us in German and motioned for us to go ahead of them because they each had a full car of groceries. It was so sweet of them! On our way back, these two old ladies stopped us and asked us something in German. I must have looked so confused so I told them “I don’t understand,” and they lit up and were like, “you speak English!?” It turns out they were looking for a bakery or café so I gave them directions on how to get there. It was my first encounter with someone speaking German to me and it was actually quite fun!

We spend Sunday doing home work all day and catching up with other people on their weekend excursions. It was definitely worth it to stay behind in Gaming for a weekend because it was relaxing and a lot of fun. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Vienna, Austria

          Another excursion the school took us on was a two day trip to Vienna from September 6-7. We left at 7:30 in the morning and prayed the rosary on the bus. I didn’t sleep because I spent the time studying. Apparently there wasn’t a bathroom anywhere near the church we would be stopping at for Mass, so halfway there, the buses stopped at a rest stop so people could use the bathroom. Mark McCown decided to be funny so he stands up, puts his backpack on and says in his sarcastic voice, “Wow, guys, let’s go see some stuff.” He walks over to the door of the bus and sees the little coffee maker with water in it and is like, “is this water?” He moves the Keurig around and his friends are like, “yep, that’s water. You’re holding us up.” So he straightens out his backpack and says, “Wow. We’re already seeing stuff,” and walked off the bus. It was hilarious!
          When we got to Vienna, we got off the buses and walked down a few blocks to Kapuzinerkloster, a little Capuchin Church. There was this little friar standing outside selling rosaries. It was so cute! We all made it into the church and oh my goodness, it was a gorgeous church. We waited about 15 minutes so the priest could prepare for Mass and then after Mass, this guy who is a graduate of FUS and is working in Vienna gave a short talk.
We all went outside and broke up into groups for our tour. Mrs. Wolter was our tour guide this time. She is very good at keeping your attention even though she’s pushing a stroller, is like 6 months pregnant, and a three year old who walks around everyone, and a one and a half year old who likes to be held. Christian ended up pushing the stroller for her (which was a very comical sight). It’s really interesting how they have such a relaxed style of parenting over here. We were at this one monument and her three year old just walks up, climbs up and walks on the edge where people usually sit. He walked around the back of the monument and Mrs. Wolter didn’t even think twice about it where as an American parent would have been running after their kid and telling them to get down.
At the end of our tour that had to be cut short because the busses arrived late, we went to lunch a Zwofl-Apostelkeller. We were in the downstairs level of the restaurant where the lighting was very soft. I ate with Marissa, Rita, Elizabeth Derner, Ann Szczepaniak, and Amelia Schultlz. We were served the crepe soup again and when we finished that, they brought out this extremely oniony potato salad. It was huge slices of potato in this vinaigrette with lots of onions. I ate around the minced onion as best I could. Then they brought out this breaded pork. It was odd because it was just a piece of pork on a plate with nothing else. It was very good though and I ate the whole thing. For dessert, they served us apple strudel smothered in vanilla cream sauce. It was steaming hot and so delicious. Our table and a few others left as soon as we were finished to head to the Hostel with the RD’s. I talked to Sarah on the way to the metro and we had quite a nice conversation.
When we got to the metro station, Scott figured out where we needed to go and then we waited. I’ve never rode on a metro before, but I had heard plenty of stories about it. We all crammed onto this humid metro with a zillion other people and held on for dear life so we wouldn’t fall over. I absolutely loved it! It was so. Much. Fun. We got off after 4 stops and walked around trying to find our Hostel. We finally found “the Lounge” at Mariahilferstrasse and waited outside for the RD’s to get all the stuff we needed. When they let us in, the staff gave us the run down of rules (no eating in your room, no smoking in your room, breakfast opens at 7, the bar is open until 2, blah, blah, blah) and finally let us go to our rooms. I shared a room with Becca, Ann Szczepaniak, Elizabeth Durner, Grace Garcia, and Michaela. We originally had made plans to follow Elizabeth around (because she had been to Vienna and Salzburg before and knew where to go and how to get there) but while we were waiting downstairs, I bumped into Cecelia Bender, Hana Reichart, and Christian Schmitz. The had plans to go to the gardens and Schonbrunn Palace so I decided to head off with them. We got back on the metro (yes!) and then walked to the palace.
We didn’t go into the palace because it was closing soon and it wasn’t worth the cost, but we took pictures outside of it before we walked around the gardens. We found lots of little paths to walk on and took fun pictures by monuments and water fountains. We ran into a lot of Franciscan friends on our walk and decided to meet up with some of them later at the Ferris wheel.
We carried on our way and went back into the heart of the city to look for some dinner. Some of the girls got these baguettes with ham and stuff in them, but I just had some fruit. We sat on some benches and people watched while we ate our dinner. It’s quite interesting how people treat their pets here. There was this couple out on a date and the lady had brought along her dog and tied its leash to the table and set up its food and water. That would never happen in the states. I went to a souvenir shop and got some postcards for a scrapbook while one of the girls went to find a bathroom.
It was about 7:30 so we decided to make our way over to the Ferris wheel. We hopped back on the metro and then walked a few blocks to where there was an amusement park. We didn’t go to the Ferris wheel at the amusement park, but the one nearby that apparently is a big attraction. We were able to get student discounts and it cost us 8 euro each to go up. After waiting until 8:30, everyone we had planned to meet was there and we had a group of 15. Only 14 people fit in a car, but we were hoping we would be allowed to go up with 15.
The ticket man let us go on with 15 because each car looked like a caboose and had a bench in the middle. We started going up and I was really enjoying it (with ofcourse mom’s Ferris wheel experience in the back of my head). There car that was across from us was a dinner car and there was a couple in it eating. We decided to take pictures of them so all 15 of us walked to that side of the car to take pictures out the window. That’s when we found out we needed to balance the weight because when we all went to one side, the car tipped. A lot. So we balanced ourselves out and then the couple saw us and waved. We were getting higher and higher and the car was swaying ever so slightly back and forth as we moved around to take pictures. All of a sudden, it hit me. I was like, “Oh, no. I can’t do this.” All I wanted to do was curl up on the floor of the car and tell everyone not to move at all. We were about a quarter of the way up and all of a sudden I realized that I was deathly afraid of heights. I tried not to think about it, but every time someone walked around, the car swayed and I thought about how scared I was. Angela was talking about how beautiful it was and asked me if I was having a good time. I was like, “yeah, except I’m deathly afraid of heights.” We were at the top by now and everyone was walking around so they could take pictures out the windows and group together to take a group picture. It was terrifying! We started going down and I took some more pictures. Everyone was writing their initials on the roof of the car because people sign the inside of the car, but to put my initials up with the group entailed standing on the bench. I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity so of course I slowly stood up on the bench and held the pole on the ceiling while I wrote my initials. We finally made it to the bottom of the wheel and we all exited the car. I was so relieved.
Of course we needed to end our night with some Gelato, so we went to Gelaterria and I had coffee and chocolate again. After our dessert, we made our way back to the Hostel. We only had one key to get in our room and we thought the girl with the key had gone to the other hostel people were staying at. Three of us were stranded in the lobby for about 30 minutes waiting for her until she came down from our room because the other three girls had been up there and thought we were just gonna knock on the door when we wanted to come it until they realized we had to pass through two other locked doors to get to our door. I was so tired and a little freaked out about bed bugs, but exhaustion won and I just crawled in (no pun intended) and went to sleep.
The next day we were up at 6:30 so we could go downstairs and eat at 7. We had plans to leave early and meet everyone at Mass, but one of the girls in our room had sprained her ankle as she was leaving the Kartause to get on the bus, so she had to stop at the apothecary and get a new ace bandage. We all went in with her and the apothecary picked one out for her and wrapped her ankle. We made our way to the metro and met up with some other Franciscan students so we just followed them to the Church. Mass was at Minorietenkirche, a Franciscan church (of course), which had this beautiful mosaic of the last supper. After Mass, Marissa and I went to find a bathroom and stumbled across this little café. We went to the bathroom and then decided to sit down and get something to eat. I had fresh squeezed orange juice with a croissant and she had Irish coffee. We were there for about an hour talking and taking pictures. When we left, we walked around Vienna and came across this marching band that was walking around the city playing music. It was super cool.
Then we decided to go to the National Treasury which we heard was a great place to visit. We got a student discount and got in for 9 euro. There was all these old capes and jewelry and clothing and pictures. We also saw a unicorn horn that was taller than I was. Then we came across the room with the relics. There were so many saint relics and Marissa said it felt like you were in heaven because you were surrounded by saint relics. There was also the nail that went through Jesus’s foot, wood from the cross, and the spear that pierced His side. We also saw John the Baptist’s tooth, wood from the manger, a piece of Jesus’s loin cloth, and a piece of the table cloth from the last supper. It was a pity we couldn’t venerate any of the relics because they were behind glass. It was such an odd realization to be like, “Wow. This is the nail that went through Jesus’s foot,” and be in total awe of this nail which is just a piece of metal, and then realize, “but I can receive Jesus at Mass every single day and it’s actually him, not just a nail that touched him.”
When we left the Treasury, we walked around and found a place where Marissa got a Bratwurst. We made our way to the open market and walked past tons of restaurants and farmers market type shops. I got a scarf from this Indian man and then we decided to go back to the church we had Mass at when we arrived in Vienna so we could take pictures. Of course we stopped on the way for Gelato, but I only had coffee gelato. It took forever to find it and we got a little lost so we stopped at a restaurant to use the bathroom and ask the girl at the counter where we were on our map. She wasn’t too happy that we weren’t staying to eat, but hey, you can’t please everybody.
We went back to the church and took some pictures and prayed. When we left, we asked the little friar how much the rosaries were and he said it was a donation. I had seen on the table inside that they were 1.50 euro so I have him 5 euro and took two rosaries.
Marissa and I decided to head over towards where the buses would be picking us up. A lot of other Franciscan students were hanging out in the Albertinaplatz waiting for the buses. There was a Muslim rally going on and there were a billion police officers monitoring them so our buses were late. It was so crazy that the RA’s had to count us off in groups of 50 and tell us where to go to get on our buses which were all in different places. We all made it safely onto the buses and out of Vienna by 4:30. I slept for a bit on the bus, but woke up when Mr. Wolter lead the rosary.  

Vienna was quite an experience, but I don’t think I would ever go back. It had the feel of a modern, big city with people everywhere and a lot of construction going on. I much prefer the quaint, old fashioned city mobbed with people. 

Salzburg, Austria

The first weekend we were here, the school took us on a day trip to Salzburg. We left at 6:30 in the morning for a two hour bus ride to Salzburg. I slept most of the way except during the rosary that we prayed right after we departed and whenever Andrew Rankin (who was in the back of the bus) changed the pitch of his voice. When we arrived, we hopped off the buses (quite literally because they couldn’t stay parked where we were) and walked to the Franziskanerkirche. We had Mass at the Franziskanerkirche which was an interesting looking church because there were pews in the back but about halfway up the aisle, there were a few steps going up and then more pews. It was odd.
          After Mass, we broke up into groups and had a walking tour of Old Salzburg. Mr. Wolter was our tour guide and that man seriously should have been a history teacher. We saw places where scenes from the Sound of Music were filmed, where Mozart lived and died, a castle, and a cemetery. The castle was actually never conquered but once it was nearly conquered. The story goes that the people in the castle only had one cow left and after that they were going to have to surrender or starve, so they took the cow up to the top of the fort and marched it all the way around so the enemies could see it. Then they brought the cow down, painted it, and marched it around the top again. They did this six or seven times and finally the enemies decided to leave because they figured since there was so many cows still inside the castle, their opponents would be there for a while longer. They must have felt pretty ridiculous when they realized they lost because of one painted cow.
          We had lunch at Stieglkeller. The first course was this soup that looked like beef broth with shredded bread in it. It was actually sliced crepes. The main course was butter chicken with mixed vegetables and pasta that looked like chopped up cauliflower. Dessert was the best thought because it was fudgy chocolate cake with a chocolate frosting and whipped cream that was so delicious because it wasn’t sweet. It literally tasted like whipped milk with no sugar.   
          After lunch, a group of us (me, Hana, Elizabeth, Becca, Michaela, and Ashley) went up to the castle. It cost 7.25 Euro to go in, but we found out we could get a group discount and it would only cost of 4 euro each. We decided to go for it and it was totally worth it. We went up to the top and we could see all of Salzburg. It was dizzying how high up we were because the castle is on a mountain.
          When we left the castle, we walked through the touristy part of Salzburg past all the little shops and cafes. It was so quaint I absolutely loved it! We walked down by the Salzburg river where there were about 75 tents where people were selling things. I got a headband and friendship bracelet from this one lady for 6 euro total. We walked around some more and went to take pictures by the gnomes that are in the sound of music. Angela and I ran and skipped down the ivy path that Maria runs down while she’s singing Do-Re-Me. It was awesome! And then the scene where Maria and the Captain are dancing and the kids tell her she is flushed…we were standing by the ivy wall. So of course I pretended I was dancing. We also went to the water fountain that Maria sings the song Confidence where she flings water at the stone statue in the middle. We totally flung water at it and thought about Maria while we did it. 
          At this point, our group consisted of myself, Hana, Joseph, Elizabeth, and Angela. We came across Melanie, Sister Mary Katherine, and Sister Sarah Rose and we had dinner from this little street cart that sold sausages. But I don’t like sausages so I went to Spar and got a roll. Then we went to a nearby Gelato shop and I had gelato for the first time. Kafee (Coffee) and i-don’t-know-how-to-spell-it (Chocolate) Gelato is seriously the best combination. Ever. While we ate our gelato, we walked to this little church and had plans to pray the divine office, but there was mass going on so we couldn’t. We decided to take a picture of the nuns outside of the church and we were across the street trying to take the picture. The cars actually stopped so we could take the picture. It was so cool.
          We made our way back to the Salzburg river and crossed the river over the lock bridge. The lock bridge has all these bicycle locks on it and the reason is that people buy locks, carve their name and the name of their significant other on it, lock the lock on the bridge and they each keep a key for the lock. Then if they break up, one of them could come back and unlock the lock. After we walked across the bridge, we sat by the river and waited while one of the nuns and some of the girls went to find a bathroom. It costs .50 euro to use a bathroom! Isn’t that ridiculous?! The benefit is that the bathrooms are nice public bathrooms, and not gross public bathrooms. When they came back, we prayed the divine office sitting on the bank of the river. Afterwards, we climbed down the rocks and touched the water and then decided to find our way back to where the buses were picking us up. We made it back before they left and Matt quizzed me on Medical Terminology until they put Taken the movie on for everyone to watch. When it was over, Marissa, Matt and I decided that Matt is going to be my older brother since I don’t have one.
          We got back to campus around 11pm and crashed into bed because we had to be up for 10am Mass the next day. So far, Salzburg was definitely my favorite place so far because it was so antique, quaint, and touristy. If I was to go anywhere in Europe again, it would definitely be Salzburg. 

Melk Monastery

The first excursion that the school took us on was a visit to the Melk Monastery which was about an hour from campus. It was the day after we arrived on campus and we left at 8:30 in the morning. When we arrived, we stopped and took a few pictures before we headed into the church. My camera battery died after five pictures, but it was kind of nice because it made me realize that I wanted to experience the places I would be at instead of viewing them from behind the lens of my camera. We had Mass in the Melk Abbey and in his homily, father told us that we should view the places we visit through the eyes of faith rather than through the eyes of a tourist because we are blest have the gift of faith as we’re visiting these shrines and churches and we’re not the typical tourist who is only seeing them for their architecture.
After Mass, we stood around in this courtyard with a water fountain for about an hour until our tour guides showed up. Our group had this really funny lady who had a sharp accent. On our tour, we were able to see rooms where royalty stayed, the dining room where they ate which had a ceiling that had optical illusions on it depending on where you stood in the room, a library where there were thousands of old books…so old you couldn’t take pictures in the library.
Following our tour, we had lunch in the upstairs banquet rooms of the restaurant on the Monastery grounds. We had salad which had two different kinds of coleslaw and a slice of tomato on top of a few lettuce leaves which were part of the salad, not a garnish. The main course was a potato dumpling and meat that had so much fat in it I couldn’t even eat it. The dessert was this interesting concoction that was similar to cheese cake with a rice pudding consistency that had been warmed up with a vanilla cream sauce on top. It was delicious in an odd way.
After lunch, we decided to walk around and see what else was on the Monastery grounds. We came across this self-serve café and took pictures inside because it was so quaint. Then we walked around on these paths that lead us to the edge of a wall overlooking the nearby village. We ran into some other nursing friends and a nun and we took pictures with them. It was way too much fun.
On the bus ride back, I slept most of the way because I was still suffering badly from jet lag. But I was awake to see this monument of a little girl holding hands with an American soldier and another soldier at the end of World War II.

Gaming, Austria

A few days after we arrived, we went on a tour of the town so that we knew where Spar, the ATM, the church, the bakery, the apothecary, and the flower shop were. The town of Gaming is a very quiet place. There is Spar which is the local grocery store, the local Parish, a shoe store, the post office, and the stationary store. The people of the town are very friendly and understanding because they know we’re study abroad students and they want us to feel welcome.
As Professor Schofield was giving our group the tour, these boys who were probably about 10 years old came up and were hanging out on their scooters near us. Professor Schofield explained to us that they might seem like little rascals who were trying to pick pocket us, but that’s just the way that we might feel coming from an American culture. In reality, they’re really just interested because we speak English and they speak a few phrases in English. She explained it to us as the way we would feel if we were studying a foreign language and a tour bus showed up at our local grocery store and dropped off a bunch of people who spoke the language we were learning. We would want to talk to them to show off our language skills and feel like we actually learned something. These boys just want to practice their language and learn a few more phrases. At the end of our tour, we went to the local parish and the TOR Friars celebrated Mass for us. Then we went to the local bakery (which is practically next door) and some people got dessert.
Going to Spar is always quite the expedition. You can’t read any of the labels because they’re in German, so basically you’re guessing at what you’re buying. I’ve never appreciated pictures on labels so much because you basically read the picture to figure out what you’re buying (except I did know what chocolate was from hearing about the cacao tea in Peru). For example, I bought a bar of chocolate that I thought was plain chocolate, but when I ate it, it turned out it had hazelnut cream in it. It was a delicious mistake though because it’s so much better than regular chocolate. But apparently a guy last semester thought he was buying laundry detergent but he bought fabric softener accidentally because he couldn’t read the label so he washed his clothes for a month with fabric softener and never knew the difference until someone figured it out. But when we bought our laundry detergent we had to figure out by the pictures on the back whether it was laundry detergent pods or dishwasher pods. Glad we clarified that because I don’t even want to know what dish soap would do to my clothes. The dryers here are wrecking enough havoc on my clothes because it takes like 4 cycles to actually dry the clothes and if it doesn’t take 4 cycles, some people have ended up with pink spots on their clothes which apparently are burn marks. Or they just straight up shrink your clothes because you have to put it on so many cycles. And no, it’s not weight gain that makes you feel like your clothes have shrunk. It really is proven (by the RD’s) that your clothes can be shrunk by the dryer.
Anyways, after our tour of town, Marissa and I decided to bike just outside of town to see the area. Biking here is different than biking in the states because it is totally acceptable for bikes to be in the road. Cars just accommodate them because it’s a normal type of transportation whereas in the states, people complain about bikers biking on the white line. In any case, Marissa had already been biking around Ireland for a week with a 30lb backpack and I had biked once all summer so it was quite the workout. Going out of town was so nice though. It was all downhill and so green and sunny and the wind was blowing through my hair…it was exhilarating. Until we decided to turn around. We were probably four miles out and it was all uphill to go back. It wasn’t steep, but it was a slow, steady, incline. Marissa was flying on ahead and my thighs were on fire two minutes in. Every single time I picked up a little speed on a straightaway (for like 5 seconds) Marissa would slam on her brakes and decide that whatever the view was, it needed to be photographed. Every. Single. Time. It was so painful.
We finally made it back into town and stopped at Spar so she could get some water. When we got back to the Kartause and were in our room, I flopped on the bed and declared that I didn’t think my butt would ever be the same again after sitting on that bike seat. It was quite the adventure, but I don’t think I would do it again unless there was someone at the bottom of the hill who would drive me back up.


The Kartause is beautiful. It is an old monastery that has been converted into a hotel, but it doesn’t have the feel of a hotel. There are old, stone steps and the windows don’t have screens in them. There is an iron gate out front and a little water fountain on the cobblestone path that leads up to the front doors. Inside the lobby there is a bar which isn’t in use except for the fact that our mailboxes are located just behind it. All three floors are filled with student rooms – ground and first floor are guys, second and third floor are girls, and fourth and six track are girls as well. The RA and RD offices along with the priests and nuns offices and the computer lab are attached to second floor which then attaches to the academic buildings. Kolbe classroom is underneath fourth track, but all the other classrooms are a sort of extension of second floor. The professor’s offices are by six track which is at the end of the classrooms. Six track overlooks a courtyard and the part of the Kartause where a lot of old wine is kept. The church is across another courtyard from the classrooms and is attached to the hotel where guests stay (not attached to the “dorms”). The church has a very high ceiling and three chandeliers hanging from the ceiling which is painted with multiple heavenly scenes. Kitty corner to the church and underneath the computer lab is the mensa. Mensa means table in German and it’s is the Gaming version of a cafeteria. The food choices are very limited, but for the most part the food is good. You don’t have to swipe your meal card to get it, but they are only open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner…no cold breakfast, snack time, or late night.
          When we arrived at the Kartause, all the families were here to welcome us and unload our bags. They were all dressed in traditional Austrian clothes (so were the RA’s) and the little girls were giving everyone roses. This one little girl with blond, curly, lopsided pigtails handed me a rose without a rose on top…I basically had a thorny stick. Another little girl saw what she did and gave me a white rose.
          When I finally made it into the Francis Lobby, there was so much luggage everywhere. I was super tired because I was running on hardly any sleep and I had just woken up from a nap. I signed some paper the RA told me to sign and then tried to find my suitcase. It was in the middle of the pile so I decided to take my carry on up to our room. Our room is on second floor and Marissa, Shannon and I each have a desk, lamp, and bed and we share side tables and a bathroom. The view out our window is the side of a hill with countless pine trees and part of an old stone wall. It’s an absolutely gorgeous view to wake up to.
          Over the course of the first few days, we had orientation meeting, upon orientation meeting, upon orientation meeting…wading through all the policies and introductions. Mr. Pipp and Mr. Wolter did a great job of telling funny stories along with the policies to keep us interested and to help us understand why the policies are in place. I was so jet lagged that I could hardly pay attention, but somehow I made it through about 15 hours of meetings.
          One of the best things about the Gaming campus is how relaxed the community living is. Guys and girls can walk through the halls unattended any time of the day and there are open hours every day. The mailboxes are open boxes and it’s basically an honor system that you don’t take anyone’s mail. The Mensa has signs up telling you that can take fruit out with you for later but nothing else, but they don’t have anyone sitting at the door monitoring you. It’s really nice because they just expect us to be adults and follow the rules…they aren’t hen-pecking us and putting a lot of restrictions on us. The funny thing is that when the student’s don’t have endless restrictions, they tend to be more mature because they know what is expected of them and they don’t want to do something that would require another policy to be put in place. They respect and enjoy the freedom that comes with being recognized as a mature adult.  
         The Kartause families are so beautiful. It’s so nice to have kids running around campus and attending Mass everyday…even Saturdays! It’s actually funny to watch the families at Mass because it gives me a glimpse of what our family looked/looks like at Mass. There is the little girl, Miryam Newton who reminds me of Molly except she has straight hair. And then her little sister Hannah-Mary reminds me of a curly haired Brighid. Then there’s Joshua Pipp who reminds me of Sean. Damien Pipp is definitely the cutest though because he’s one and a half and has curly blond hair. He is the fussiest baby I’ve seen though, but his cuteness makes up for it. 

Traveling to Europe

   Traveling to Europe was an unforgettable experience. I had never flown before but I recommend not travelling internationally the first time your fly. It was the coolest thing to be so high up in the sky that looking down, the clouds looked like pollution coming out of factories and the motorboats in the water looked like they were frozen in place. The sky was unbelievably blue and the clouds drifted by slowly.
   The overnight flight was exhausting. They kept feeding us for what seemed like every hour (even though it wasn't that often) so I got hardly any sleep. The turbulence in the plane felt very similar to what it feels like to lay in the back of a 15 passenger on the thruway.
   After landing in London, I had to go through customs, get my luggage, re-check it, go back through security, and get back on the plane in 40 minutes. It was totally doable...except for the fact that the bag drop closes two hours before the flight. But I didn't think of this so I stood in the customs praying a million Hail Mary's a minute and realizing that there was only two other blond ladies in the ridiculously long line. All the rest were dark haired and most of them were Muslim. For a minute I seriously considered wrapping my scarf around my head, but I opted not to. I hurried through customs and found the baggage pick up only by recognizing people who were on the same flight as me. I got my bag and then asked a person who worked at the airport how to get to the bag drop. He pointed for me to go up this ramp, but that only dropped me back off on the other side of customs. So I went back over to the stairs and dragged and thumped and pulled by 52lb bag, 18lb carry-on, and atleast 25lb "purse" down the stairs. I finally figured out where I was going.
   I had to walk outside to get to the departures and as soon as I stepped outside into was so surreal. I felt like Jane in Jane by Design. It was a typical London morning...foggy and misty and the air was cool and moist. I took a minute to stop and look up at the sky and the tall buildings around me. I was really in another country.
   I ran inside and made my way over to the counter to check my bag only to have the lady tell me that I couldn't check my bag because bag drop closed one hour and 45 minutes ago. She pointed me towards another counter and told me I had to get another flight.
   I walked over to the counter and pulled my bag's around this other persons stuff and leaned on the counter. I told the guy, "I just missed my flight" as I tried not to cry. He was like, "where were you going?" I told him, "Vienna." He started to look flights up and then I heard someone next to me say, "Teresa?!" I turned and there was Shannon Root standing next to me booking a flight. I totally lost it and started bawling. She explained to me that our options were to get on the next flight in two hours or get a cheaper flight the next day and spend the day in a hotel in London which would end up costing us about the same amount. I told her I had no idea what I wanted to do except that I wanted to do whatever she was doing.
   We got ourselves tickets for the next flight, went and dropped our checked luggage off, and then went through security. We had water and kettle potato chips for "breakfast" while we waited for our flight and then we finally boarded our flight. It was a plane where we had to walk outside to get on the plane. It was kinda cool. I had tea on the flight because you just have to have tea when you're in London and someone offers you tea in a British accent.
   When we landed in Vienna we walked all around trying to find where our luggage was. We finally found it and then we had to find the information desk by the "golden arches" (aka McDonalds) to tell them to contact FUS and let them know the students who missed their flight were at the airport. While we were standing around deciding what to do this guy dressed in full traditional Austrian clothes walks up and asks us if we're Shannon and Teresa. He introduced himself as Ryan an RA and offered to take us to the bus.
   We finally got on the bus and I went to sleep after about 20 minutes. It was a 2 hour ride to Gaming and when we got to be about 10 minutes out I woke up and listened to someone (I think it was Mr. Wolter) point out a few things in town.
   It was a long 26 hours with about 3 hours of sleep but it was a great experience.