The end of sommer was great. For my last weekend in Altmuenster I walked with another exchange student (from Canada) to the neighboring town, Gmuenden, where there was a pottery fair. All of the crafts were very unique and beautiful, and we were able to take many more pictures (despite the bad weather) of the lake/shore. We searched for a Mcdonalds but settled for a traditional snack of Wuerstel with Sauerkraut and Semmel from an Imbisstand (like a food stand you would see at the state fair). When it was time to turn around we got icecream to eat while enjoying the scenery and I chose the flavor smurph. I'm still not sure what it was supposed to taste like. But the next day I returned home on the train to Vienna and spent the week meeting up with some other exchange students that are also staying in Vienna or just exploring the town. However the night I got back my host mother brought me along to a dinner on the Danube. That night I also met my host brother for the first time and we have been pretty good siblings ever since. For my last summer trip I went to the Schoenbrunn Castle with another girl from France. To say the least it was amazing. We toured the gardens (and attempted a labyrinth1), which still have pristenely kept flowers and shrubs around historical walkways, fountains and statues. We were then able to tour inside with audio guides that told us a lot about the legendary Sisi who had ankle length hair, and Maria Teresa (mother of Marie Antoinette i believe). But nonetheless this castle is also where Marie Antoinette grew up, and countless other famous monarchs lives, including Naploean Bonaparte I. Walking through all of the rooms that they used to live in was definatly very surreal. We finished the day with pizza and a little walking around Steffansplatz.
Finally Monday came and for the first day of school my host mother rode the U-bahn with me and helped me find my teacher and class (6B). At first it was intimidating, but then I learned the phrase 'Ich bin eine Austaushulerin' and I was able to explain my presence and my slightly sloppy german. Plus it gets me a lot of help sometimes! But that phrase has really been the theme of the week. The friends/aquiantances that I have made so far enjoy asking me questions about the U.S. and how I like Vienna; and the teachers always begin by aksing how much German I know or where I come from. So everything is new but I am also settling in.
School here is a lot different. Most of the time the teachers change classrooms, not the students, and I have a lot more free time. So lots of times school ends and noon or one so I go with some other girls in my class to a place called Happy Noodles for delicious fried food. For the first week I had no idea what some classes were, and whenever we play games it is really humorous because I generally have no idea what to do. Especially in gym class when everyone starts running and balls are flying and I just have to stop and watch for about five minutes to figure out whats going on. However I really do think my german is improving just from hearing and speaking it all day, everyday.
The Sunday after my first week of school my host family and I had (what I like to think of it as) a little celebration for a successful first week of school with Wiener-Schnitzel, potatoe salad (much different from the kind you find at Minnesotan potlucks and Lutheren gatherings!), salad with Kaerne-Oeil (pumpkins seed oil and regular mixed togeter, my host-brother makes it and its unbelievably good!), and finally Himbeer-Traum (direct translation Raspberry-Tree) which was Raspberries, whipped cream, and shortbread cookies soaked in Raspberry sauce, then all stacked togeter like a torte. Everything tasteed simply wonderful. And I got to help make it, so a little cultural experience thrown in there too!
And now I have entered week two of school, but this weekend I will be seeing all of the other exchange students again while we hike in the mountains! Better bring my guitar and clothes fashioned from curtains!