Orientation at Uni. Salzburg

Monday, February 9, 2009

We had orientation this morning at 9:00, where we got a free breakfast.  Let me tell you, that free breakfast in and of itself was what got me out of bed.  When my alarm went off at 8:00, every bone in my body was screaming at me to press 'snooze', roll over, and sleep for another hour.  Or ten.  But Gena was waiting to catch the bus and go into town with me, and the free breakfast was waiting for me as well, and that was enough. 

Sandy and I love free meals, so after orientation, we, naturally, sat behind the breakfast table and snuck leftover croissants when no one was looking (I'm not sure that anyone would have cared, but you never know).  Sandy likes to hide food in her purse on the off-chance that she and I will run out of money and therefore won't be able to eat.  With 3 H&M's in Salzburg, this is a very likely possibility, but I'm proud to say we've purchased nothing from H&M thus far!  And we've been here for over one whole day!

Orientation was great, mostly because it was there that we received our bank cards.  We get $250 a month deposited into our school bank accounts (we paid for this in our fees) to cover meals.  After orientation, Sandy and I split up so I could run some errands (yes, I already have errands to run here).  Now, when people ask me how much German I can speak, I tend to say "not a lot."  But it really is all about your confidence level and I'm learning that more and more.  Today, for example, I walked into the Tabak Trafik to purchase my bus pass and had to conduct this exchange in German, which was fine.  Next, I went into A1 to activate my phone -- another German convo, which was more difficult, but surprisingly fine as well.  Lastly, I went into a boot store here.  With so much snow on the ground and months more on the way, I realized I need a better pair of boots than the pair I brought from Goodwill for which I paid a grand total of $1.99... I knew I'd spend much more than that in town today but I also knew that the 10-day forecast predicts snow 24/7 as far as the eye can see, so, what else am I supposed to do?  Anyway, I walked into the boot store and spoke with the very nice sales clerk.  She was super friendly -- spoke only German with me -- and sold me a pair of boots for only 39 euro.  They were originally 102 euro and I got them on sale.  When I asked her if I could wear them out of the store, she replied, "Ja! Natürlich!" which made me very happy.  I don't know why I thought 4 semesters of German wouldn't be enough to get me through basic conversations, but it's great to learn that it is.

After our break, our cultural director, Andreas (a native Austrian born and raised in Salzburg!) took us on a 4 hour walk through the mountains.  Thank goodness for my new boots, right?  The walk was incredible; I loved seeing the city from so high up and it's just so absolutely breathtaking.  One particular highlight was seeing the oldest convent in the German-speaking world, built in 750.  There are still nuns there, too!  We went inside and hear them singing (but not in the abbey, like Fräulein Maria).  We even toured "Austria's most romantic graveyard."

After the tour was over, we were starving from all that walking, so we went to dinner with our new friend Tim (the guy in the red hat).  We had a great meal together at the coziest little restaurant in the Altstadt.  One particular highlight was Sandy signing a Mariah Carey song under her breath and nearly dying of embarrassment when the waiter sang the next line back to her. 

After dinner, Tim and I boarded the bus to head back to IK (he lives in the red building) and stopped at Hofer (one bus stop down from ours) to get some groceries.  That was an interesting experience for a couple reasons: (1) I accidentally bought 6 bottles of carbonated water (rookie mistake, I know) and (2) We failed to bag our groceries in time and, in turn, received death stares from everyone around us for causing so much congestion around the counter (another rookie mistake, I know).  At the point, we decided to call it a night and take the bus to IK -- just one stop but we had so many groceries, we couldn't have walked.  I guess that was a third rookie mistake, buying the amount of groceries you would buy in the US (with a car) as opposed to buying only what you can carry, here.  Regardless, there is something so comforting about bags full of groceries -- especially when you have such a great kitchen to cook in, like mine and Caroline's.

I love it here, I love it here, I love it here.

Did I mention I love it here?

Quote of the day: "Hola!" -- Sandy, to an Austrian today in town

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