Since I have last updated I have been doing a lot of traveling!
I took a one hour bus ride for a day trip in Bratislava, Slovakia. It just so happens that Vienna and Bratislava are two of the world’s closest country capitals. I would say so with only an hour ride! The old town was small but quaint. We had a pretty big group go and I would say the best part was when we all sat down together and enjoyed a traditional Slovakian dinner–that was quite cheap in addition to being delicious!
I also had my 5 day Field Camp, which I would recommend to everyone because it was another opportunity to not only explore other parts of Austria outside of the city (which I am not a city girl, so it was nice to get away for a little) but also a perfect time to make new friends and form close relationships. I met a whole new group of international students and also some native Austrians . We learned about forestry in the day (via lectures in the woods) and evenings we shared dinner (often helping make it as well). I was challenged to learn about my own country’s forestry and did in fact learn quite a bit about the US. Also a funny thing to add is once someone finds out you are a native speaker they love asking you for help on a word or how to say something. It puts a bit of pressure on me to make sure I am telling them the most proper and correct way to say things, but I really enjoy it. Not only am I helping them but as a Communications major language in general fascinates me. If someone is up for the challenge, I love teaching people phrases and expressions. I returned from Field Camp exhausted but enlightened: we not only hiked on the Rax Alps but had an intimate tour of the Forchtenstein Castle in Burgenland (another district/province of Austria; Vienna is its own province), but we also visited the Austrian Water Pipeline museum (and learned where the delicious fresh Austrian water comes from: the mountains!) and even went on a tour through the Danube National Park (where I almost picked a highly poisonous flower :O).
As if that was not enough, once I returned I began planning a trip to Italy. There are a lot of holidays here in Austria and so we had a long weekend ; I don’t have classes Fridays and we had Monday and Tuesday off so we knew we couldn’t pass up that opportunity. I took a long (uncomfortable) overnight train ride to Venice with my roommate and an American girl I met here. I recommend paying the 20 euros or so extra for a sleeping car because the sitting cars were so cold and upright it was practically impossible to sleep–which we found out a bit too late. But on the return trip we had a sleeping car and not only is it more comfortable but you feel safer, you can lock the door, whereas random people can (and did) come into the sitting car (and we 3 girls were kind of nervous to get robbed or something). And best of all, in the sleeping car we got a free complimentary breakfast–including your choice of coffee or tea it was splendid. The whole trip was a bit rushed planning but overall successful. We arrived in Venice Friday morning and stayed the night (had a lovely dinner) and left late Saturday night on another overnight train to Rome and stayed there a night (another great dinner) and came home late Monday night on a sleeping car, waking up in Vienna Tuesday morning. Oh and of course while in Rome we had to see the Vatican city aka country and spent most of the day there Monday.
Italy was a lot of fun, but they don’t speak much English there-so beware! The trip and traveling made me miss Vienna. People are really helpful and friendly here, not to mention their great English skills. And the city is not too crowded, is very clean and the public transport is like the best in Europe. It is clean, on time, and just makes sense. It is a very simple system , even for someone like me not used to public transportation.
So clearly Vienna is the right place to be! So far living here has been superb. More updates to come about studying here and classes, professors, etcetera.