April12014

Part 2 of 2

11AM

These are some of my last entries. For whoever is still reading my blog.

Part 1 of 2

June122013

Here I go Again.

Instead of actually typing this I’m hand writing it so shoot me. Also, it’ll be in cursive.

April102013

March 2013 Part III

Continuing from the previous e-mail:
We got safely home, but we were completely exhausted. It was a bit stressful because the next day we had to head towards Salzburg. Goodness gracious………
In the morning my host mom told us that we would be having breakfast at my host aunt’s house before we headed to Salzburg. We headed at around 8:30. That was plenty of time because the train was going to leave at 10:41. My host aunt Elke greeted us at the door and told us to be at home. Once we were in the dining room, my other host aunt Kerstyn came from the kitchen a wonderful surprise. Elke told us to take a seat and make ourselves comfortable. A few minutes later the door bell rang and my host grandfather showed up as well as Kerstyn’s husband, Roman. My mom was extremely surprised because she had wanted to meet my host grandpa very much. It was a funny meeting because my mom and host grandpa were trying to speak to each other in Spanish and German. We laughed heartily. 
After a wonderful  Austrian breakfast it was time to head to the train station to catch our train. We had 15 minutes to spare and a one and a half hour ride to go. The train ride was smooth only making one stop in Wels. From there we continued to Salzburg and arrived at 12:30 in the afternoon. This time around I didn’t have any other exchange students to help me out, but luckily I have been to Salzburg a few more times than Vienna. From the train station we took a bus to where our hotel should have been. Since I wasn’t well versed in the outskirts of the city and my map didn’t have the layout to the airport either we were lost. Good thing though that we weren’t completely lost though. I still managed to find a hotel and I asked the front desk to tell me where I to find our destination. Once I knew where we had to go we again took the bus and this time we were headed over to the right place. We got off at the right stop and then we walked a few blocks to our hotel. Once there my mom and I rested for about 45 minutes. After we rested we headed back towards the altstadt.
The weather was quite wonderful that day. It had the perfect cloud cover and the right breeze to hit the spot. We headed down the most famous street the Getreidegasse. Of course there were tourists from all over the globe. My mom wanted to have coffee in a real Austrian way so I took her to Café Mozart of course. There we sat down and we took our order for coffee and I also told my mom that we needed to try the famous Salzburger Nockerl. The Salzburger Nockerl is an Austrian dessert that is similar to Soufflé, but in the shape of two mountains. Once we had it we were both stuffed with an inflated egg dessert into our stomachs. It was not my kind of dessert, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Afterwards we payed and then we headed down towards the Dom, this is the largest cathedral in Salzburg. My mom was again surprised at the architecture of the church. It was completely different than Stefans Dom. While Stefans Dom has Gothic architecture the Dom has Baroque architecture. Once we finished walking through the Dom we headed towards a small candy shop called Fürst which has another famous Salzburg sweet. In this shop they sell the famous Mozart Kugeln. I told my mom that she also had to try this “delicacy” because it isn’t made like this anywhere else. This particular sweet is a ball of chocolate, with a pistachio marzipan and nougat center. The Kugeln from Fürst are all made by hand ever since they were first made by Paul Fürst in 1890. I can safely say that is a sweet one must have if they ever visit Salzburg. After that  my mom and I walked around looking at all the buildings going into stores etc. Before we left to the hotel we stopped by the Fest Park across the Salzach river. Although this is a small park it is as grandiose as the Schonbrunn gardens in Vienna. The gardens have some of my favorite statues in Austria which depict the four elements: Earth, Fire, Water, and Air. My mom absolutely loved this place, but it was getting windier and darker so from there we decided to go eat before heading back to the hotel. We ate a restaurant called Khan’s which I tell you is one of the best Asian restaurants I’ve been to. I was stuffed that night. After we headed to the hotel and then we went to bed. The next day would be an interesting one.
On Saturday the 23rd we woke up to a sunny day. We checked out of the hotel at 9:30 from there my mom and I went to see the last attraction in Salzburg. I was taking my mom to see Mozart’s Geburtshaus (Birth House). It’s one of my favorite museums in Austria because it has so much to offer. It’s a quaint house that millions walk through everyday. I loved walking through the rooms and seeing instruments that Mozart played during his lifetime, his half-finished concertos and his letter’s to his wife. Once we finished with Mozart’s Geburtshaus my mom wanted to go eat. I had no idea where to go because my mom wanted to eat something completely Austrian. So I rang up a friend who lives in Salzburg and recommended this place called the Augustiner Bräustübl. It’s an old brewery from 1621 that offers plenty of food and drink for all. I was astonished at this place once inside because it is enormous and it had so much food all of it consisting purely of Austrian cuisine. This is another place I would highly recommend to go, the food is delicious beyond comparison. They had it all: Schnitzel, Wurstl, Knödel, Spieß, Kotelett. That’s to name a few. I say that’s a way to leave Austria right because from there my mom and I were headed to another place of wonder. This time Rome, Italy.
We headed towards the airport at around 4:30 p.m. because our flight took off at 6:20. We waited in the airport for that short time and the time came to board the plane. I seriously couldn’t believe that my mom and I were going to Italy let alone Rome. Of all places I was excited because it’s an archaeological museum. We took off from Austria and we had a connecting flight from Frankfurt which we had to wait about two hours. From there we headed to Rome. We got to Rome at around 11:45 p.m. This time we both had to find a way to navigate by ourselves. We called the bed and breakfast we were staying at and asked if we could arrive and manager said of course. We took a taxi from the airport and then we arrived to our destination quite at this time it was already one in the morning, but despite the time we were glad to be there. I mean that day we were going to a Papal mass.
We woke up at 7 in the morning to get ready to go to the Vatican. My sister was incredibly lucky to find this bed and breakfast because it was incredibly affordable and also because we were literally three minutes walking from the Vatican. Talk about insanity. We left there at 7:45 to see if we could get a good entry. It was already packed, but we could still walk through to get in. Also, since it was Palm Sunday the place was more crowded than usual. My mom and I were ecstatic to be able to witness a mass from the holy father because it’s something not everyone can witness. The mass was spectacular because they had it in Italian and Latin, but they also had it in many other languages which was real moving. This whole congregation of people had a sense of warmth and it brought the essence of what humanity should be. That is of course unity. It was powerful. When the mass ended we left, but we had to leave slowly because there simply were too many people to go through. We waited a little bit in order for the crowd to disperse. From there we headed towards where we were staying, but decided to grab a bite to eat first. We had our first Italian meal and it was radically different from the Austrian cuisine I had gotten used to. After we finished eating we headed to the bnb to drop of a few things and collect what we needed to go explore Rome. The manager told us how we could get places anywhere through Rome simply walking instead of taking a bus. 
We were happy that we were able to do this. I told my mom that the first thing I wanted to see was the Colosseum. It was a 45 minute walk, but on the way we saw a mass of incredible things. It was too much to take in really, but enjoyable nonetheless. My mom and I bought some things on the way like small souvenirs and a map. The one thing though that made that day a bit dreary was that after about two in the afternoon it got cloudy. We still made the best of it by seeing ruins, the famous Roman cats, the parliament building, a castle, a plethora of churches, a famous marketplace and much more. Once we arrived to the Colosseum it was already about 4 p.m. Beforehand we saw it from a distance on one of the hills and then we headed toward it. Seeing this up close after many years only reading about it and seeing pictures in textbooks. I was blown away. I couldn’t handle it. I mean this structure of legend and awe. I mean this whole place in the city that used to have an empire that vanished off this planet. It was incredible to experience. I felt the adrenaline rushing through my body. My mom and I toured the Colosseum and we saw all that it had to offer. After that we were exhausted from all the walking we had done that day and to top it off my knee was hurting. We took a taxi from the Colosseum back to the bnb to arrive faster in order for us to rest, shower, and eat. The next morning we were going to explore the Vatican Museum, the Pantheon, and the Fontana di Trevi.
When we woke up the next morning we headed toward the Vatican to check out the inside of the church and the actual museum. Again it was packed, but it was definitely worth seeing. The structure of the church was breathtaking. I can’t even describe it, it was more than anyone could think of. I mean how long did it take to build, design, conceive? It was on a whole nother level. This was only the basilica not to mention we hadn’t even gone to the museum yet! That’s one of the best parts because this museum took roughly two and a half hours to get through. It was enormous. I’m not going to get into detail because I have photos, but I will make one special mention. Near the end we were trying to see the main attraction the Sistine Chapel. That is something I can never experience the same again. I mean the first instant I walk in there and I see all these paintings by some of the most famous artists of the renaissance. I saw The Creation of Adam up above me. It’s one of those things that makes me wonder about everything. It’s a highlight of life. After we finished there. My mom and I walked to one of the many market places that Rome had to offer we bought more trinkets and I bought some gummies. From there we headed towards the Pantheon. On the way there we stopped by a really cool plaza that seemed like the entrance to a castle. I forget the name, but there were two great fountains and a spire in the center. We were really close to the Pantheon at this point so from there we headed there. Once we got there I called a friend of mine who was there from Graz. She was there with her host granparents and we met up at the Pantheon. It was fun meeting her. After that my mom and I went inside to see. 
Since it was getting dark we decided to head to the Fontana di Trevi before it was late in the evening. We arrived to it and it was amazing to look at this fountain. Especially at night since it was lit and it glowed a blue hue. After we finished with the fountain we left to find a place to eat. We found this nice pasta place. When we finished we took a taxi back to the bnb to rest up and shower. The next day we were scheduled to fly at three so we woke up and left to a market place to buy some last minute things for our relatives. From there we took a taxi toward the airport. We waited about one hour and then we flew back to Salzburg. Once we arrived to Salzburg we took the train back to the apartment and after a short, but exhausting trip we were glad to be back in Riedau. We had a good night’s sleep. 
The next day we woke up and my mom wanted to do some shopping in Ried. We headed out in the morning to buy some gifts for everyone back home. After that we had a relaxed day with my host family they were asking how Rome was and if it was amazing. In the evening we headed to the apartment to rest because the next day would be my mom’s last day in Austria. Of course I was sad, but we did end up making another Mexican dish for my host family. We ended up making tamales the whole day since my host family was working. Again this was one of the best things I hadn’t had in months. A fresh home made tamale made by none other than my mom. It was delicious beyond belief because it was perfectly soft and warm. Those tamales left everyone speechless because they didn’t think posole could be topped, but we proved them wrong again haha.
The next day in the wee hours of the morning my host dad drove my mom and I to the airport so she could catch her flight. Her plane left at 6:40 and we got there at the nick of time at 6 we only had a short time to spare because her plane boarded at 6:20. It was morose to see my mother go, but it couldn’t be avoided. We said our goodbyes and I saw my mom leave the gate. That ends my mother’s visit. After that we drove back to my house and I soon slept. To top it off the last few days I got an awful bug in my system so I was sick for the last few days of break and Easter.
That ends this chapter of my exchange. I have three left, and now I have to make the most out of them for my big finally. We’ll see what the world has in store. Until next month.
-Fabi
7AM

March 2013 Part II

Continuing from the previous e-mail:
On the 16th it was time for us to say goodbye to the exchange students. It was morose to say our farewells because everyone had gotten along extremely well that week……
I had a day of rest in between  before a special someone arrived. It wasn’t unprecedented, but it was a pleasant surprise no matter. The day had arrived March 18th, 2013. My mom was going to land in Salzburg. Her flight arrived at 1:15 in the afternoon, beforehand my host mom and I got a key to a small apartment that one of my Rotarians let me borrow so my mom and I could stay comfortably during her visit. After that my host mom and I drove roughly an hour and forty-five minutes to the Salzburg airport. Once we arrived we had to wait at the terminal roughly a half hour because my mom had to go through customs. As soon as I saw my mom pass the doors I couldn’t believe it that she took this journey to come and visit. I mean I was completely ecstatic and speechless. I can say that this was unbelievable. I had my mom and host mom meet each other for the first time. I realized too that this was going to be a major test for my language skills. I would have to be translating German to Spanish and back as fluidly as I could. I forgot to prepare myself for that, but I was confident that I would be fine over the course of my mom’s visit. 
Anyway on the car ride back to Riedau my mom, host mom, and I were talking about everything that we had planned for the next two weeks. On the way back we stopped by the grocery store to buy some food. My mom was about to have her first typical Austrian meal. We bought some Wurstl, bread, horseradish, and mustard from the store. From there we headed back to my host house and my host mom went and prepared the meal. While we waited for it to heat up we talked more about my exchange, questions that my mom had about the country and about Europe in general, and questions my host mom had about the States and Mexico to my mom. After we had our meal my host mom took us to the apartment that we were going to stay in that was a two minute walk from my host house.
Once we arrived my mom and I situated ourselves in the apartment and my host mom told us to have a relaxed evening because my mom had just flown a 12 hour flight. The next day after a good night of rest my mom and I wanted to cook posole for the family because they never had eaten this. My mom and I cooked that along with chilaquiles. I can’t tell you how much I missed chilaquiles. I forgot how good they were. I mean after seven months of experiencing Austrian cuisine and then your taste buds hitting home. I felt as if I was transported back home. Also, as to not be selfish I invited my friend Ricardo from Mexico to have some of this delicious meal. It’s safe to say that he also felt as if he went back home. When my family came home in the evening they were in for a surprise. They never imagined posole to be as how my mom and I made it. I had only shown them pictures, but once they tasted it it was gratifying to see their reactions. They ate posole for about three days straight. That’s how much they liked it.
The next day I asked my host mom if she could drive us to Ried because my mom wanted to see the town I am currently studying in. We went at around ten in the morning and we went to my school where I introduced my mom to my classmates and teachers. It was interesting showing my mom the school. After that we went to see the central plaza. There we went around and saw some of the shops and also went to eat some ice cream. After showing my mom the plaza we drove back home because my mom was eager to meet my extended host family. They wanted to meet my mom and were also eager to try the now famous posole they had heard about. My mom and my host aunts got along very well like they did with my host mom.
Now onward to the majority of my mom’s visit. On the 21st I had scheduled to take my mom to Vienna to show her the capital of Austria. I was going to show her the main attractions of the city which are Schönbrunn Palace and Stefansplatz. Although I only had a day to show her what I could it was all possible because I had asked two exchange students that lived there to help me navigate a little bit around Vienna. We met up at the train station and I introduced my mom to them. It was fun. From there we went on and headed to Stefansplatz to see the famous Stefans Dom, a gothic church of immense proportions. My mom couldn’t believe she was in a church this magnificent. We walked around and I showed her some of the highlights of the church. After that my friends took us to an Easter market a few blocks from the church. My mom enjoyed walking through the streets of Vienna. She kept on telling me how it felt like a dream and that she hadn’t even arrived to Austria yet.
        After my friends showed us the market they had to head out because one of them was switching host families. We said our goodbyes and they told me how to get to our next destination. First I checked the schedule to see when the next tram came because my mom and I were hungry. We decided to stop and eat the sandwiches we had prepared beforehand.  Once we finished we headed towards the palace. It was a short seven minute tram ride. We arrived to the station and from there we had to walk a little bit to reach the palace, but from the distance we were walking it still looked magnificent. As we walked into the courtyard I showed my mom the layout model of the palace to give her an idea as to how large this place was. From there we bought our tickets for entry and walked into the palace. We walked around the palace with the provided audio guide for roughly two hours. I won’t go into detail to explain how the palace was because that would make me write an entirely different e-mail haha. After we exited the palace we headed to the back of the palace to look around and see some of the gardens. After that it started to darken and we had to head back towards the bahnhof to head home. Before we left we had some food and we had to wait in the station for about 45 minutes before the next train arrived.
     We got safely home, but we were completely exhausted. It was a bit stressful because the next day we had to head towards Salzburg. Goodness gracious………
It’s getting late again and I have yet to finish. This report is becoming a novel I swear. I hope you can pardon me this again, but I will finish the last part tomorrow. Those being the adventures in Salzburg and Rome.
-Fabi
April82013

March 2013 Leaving in 3…2…1…

Journal Entry 77, Day 303, hour 16 with 37 minutes, Season Spring. I have made it where no man has gone before. I’m all out of resources. All I have left is my sheer will power and a… method that keeps me alive. The walls told me what I had to do. I had to be attentive. They told me this, “You. One that knows nothing, but curiosity that drove you here. You never expected us to be like you. Are we correct?” This is how it started. They were vague, at that point I couldn’t understand anything regardless of my efforts. I’m starting to think that this is simply a convention of my mind, but how can I be sure? I mean I don’t think I could never come up with this “method” of survival? Am I truly capable? I came here for research and I it’s ironic that nearing the end I’m the one being used for research…
That aside here is update number 8…9? I forget which, but it’s nearing it’s end no matter what. I write this to you on my 8th month anniversary in Austria. Signaling that I have 3 months left to live in this wondrous state of life. I mean seeing as to how I am almost done. These reports give me a chance to reflect more and more.Anyway, this past month I bring a jam-packed report featuring a ski day with my classmates, an eventful ski week with the other exchange students in an exciting place, a visit from my mom, and a crippling Easter much to my disappointment. I promise that you shall be thoroughly pleased as to what I have experienced this past month.
To begin the month started like a typical March. Cold with plenty of snow to go around. I mean it was warmer than any Spring I have encountered in Sacramento. I can say that I was pleased at all the warmth that Austria had to give me on that first day of March. The next day I went to Ried because one of the exchange students from Salzburg was visiting. We met up at the pool house because her swim team was giving courses to younger children. Unfortunately she wasn’t able to participate because she had slipped on an icy parking lot and broke her leg a few weeks prior. We managed to catch up at the cafe inside the pool house for about two hours and it was nice because we hadn’t seen each other since December’s Salzburg weekend.
The next few days were normal nothing too eventful other than starting marching practice for the orchestra because we are going to compete sometime in June if I’m not mistaken. On the 5th my head teacher planned a ski day for the class in Flachau in Salzburg. It was a magnificent day to go skiing because the sun was shining and everyone was going to enjoy a day of shredding the mountain to pieces in a fierce wave of metal versus snow. We traveled up the mountain to face winds that could cut through our flesh and reach our bones to chill them as fast as Ice-9 freezes oceans. We all managed to tear that mountain apart on this day. Yet we suffered one casualty. My ski pants. I’m afraid to say that they tore in two and I had to ski the rest of the day with individual pants. I couldn’t complain though because it kept me from over-heating which was a good thing I guess hahaha.
The next few days I spent making pins because the Rotary ski weekend was going to finally come. A week of skiing with the exchange family. Could it get any better than that? First and foremost this was the first time I was going to meet the new inbounds from Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and South Africa. I was incredibly eager to meet them because I had become close with my oldies and now we were adding to the family which would make it even more amazing. On Friday I packed all my gear and in the evening I spent the night with my friend Joel from Indiana. In the morning we left to the train station and we met up with the other exchange students from Ried and left from there towards Schladming. This is where the world championships for skiing took place a few weeks ago. We were going to Planai where it was hosted and of course everyone was eager to arrive and ski.
That night we were told what our plan for the week was and what to expect the following morning. We were told that we were going to ski and were all going to be placed in different groups ranging from beginning, intermediate, to advanced. Everyone was eager to know the next morning which group they would be placed in. In order to be placed we had to ski down a small slope and our instructors would evaluate us on our technique and speed. I was the second person to go down this slope and to my surprise I was placed with the advanced group. I was a bit nervous of course because this was my 7th time skiing. Of course that didn’t matter because I was determined to reach a goal by the end of the week. After everyone was placed into their groups we all split off to different parts of the mountain. I went with my group near the top of the mountain. From there we did a couple of rounds around the slope. After a while the instructor wanted to reassess us on our technique. This time though we had to ski down another slop, but this slope was more akin to ice. Of course we had to ski down it and everyone skiid fine. Of course that’s not how the story goes. We each had our turn to show the instructor how well we could control our body skiing. As my turn arrived I was nervous because as I mentioned before this was my 7th time skiing. I managed the first few turns, but then everything went to Hell. My ski caught itself on some ice and snow as I was turning. I twisted and heard a loud grinding pop. I felt a surge of pain in my knee that traveled through my leg. I fell into the snow in anguish, face in the snow. I was yelling,” MI RODILLA MI RODILLA!!!” It was a pain I had never felt before. My instructor came up and told me to come down as to get out of the way of the slope. I did as best as I could, but was in pain and couldn’t move my leg much. I managed to get down the slope, but the instructor insisted we continue and that I could still ski. I simply couldn’t luckily we had reached the bottom of the slope and one of the Rotarians saw me struggling and asked me what was wrong. I told her everything that happened and she asked the instructor if I had fallen and he said yes. She told him that I had to be taken to the hospital in order to see if anything serious had happened. From there I had to wait for Walter, who’s in charge for all the exchange students, to take me to the hospital to receive an x-ray. I learned that I had slightly torn my PCL, but luckily it didn’t require surgery. Unfortunately I wasn’t the only one who was in an accident that day. Another exchange student from Arkansas fractured his knee. I don’t know when his injury happened, but I believe it to have happened at the same time as mine. He had to leave the next morning to receive surgery near his town as to facilitate transportation. It was the most eventful thing of the week, but unfortunately it left us out of ski week. I had luck by being able to stay and still have fun with the other exchange students. I mean it was a bit boring during the day because I was alone for most of the day, but I kept myself occupied by reading and playing my instrument.
Throughout the week Walter had planned the evenings out for us to see a bit of Schladming. On the first night we saw a ski show where the champoinships took place where some talented skiiers showed of some major coordination skills. The next evening we went to the Schladming Rotary club meeting.
On the 16th it was time for us to say goodbye to the exchange students. It was morose to say our farewells because everyone had gotten along extremely well that week.
 
Cutting this one short for today because it’s already midnight. I’ll finish the rest tomorrow if that’s not a problem.
-Fabi
March152013

February 2013

            Journal Entry 52, Day 250, Hour 13 with 52 minutes, Season Winter: I can’t feel anymore. I ran out of food at about day 210 my provisions weren’t much to begin with and this snow storm was more than unprecedented. My partner is gone… I had to resort to extreme measures that I’d rather not explain here. But, I keep what is left of him in cryostasis for later use. I don’t think you can call me human much longer since the walls are my friends. I speak with them about revenge something that never appealed to me so much, but now I can compare it to love. It’s something I lust after. I don’t think I was ever meant to come here. No one told me where I was going and now I can only call this place my personal heaven. I can slowly see the dangers that this world can bring. They are completely unprecedented, especially in a place where meteorological pressure drops faster than light can keep me warm. No one has come for me… I would ask you to forgive me for this completely late report simply because I have been occupied with many things in Austria. I also believe this is my latest report yet, but I hope to satisfy everyone by filling it with something satisfactory. Anyway let me begin with February 1st.

            A wintery Friday in Austria, I had a typical school day in class. Well atypical because everyone was excited for the weekend to begin anew. After school I met up with one of the exchange students from Indiana, Joel, and we caught up with what was happening throughout the week. After that I went home at the 4 o’clock bus. I arrived home and relaxed for a few hours before going to music practice in my town orchestra. It was the first practice since December because we took a break. The next day on Saturday, was mostly for relaxing, reading, and washing my clothes. Later in the afternoon I went for a walk, albeit it was cold. In the evening I went to Austin’s house, he is an exchange student from Kansas. We played a bit of mandolin and a few board games. On Sunday, I had to wake up early because my hot brother wanted me to cook for him and his girlfriend. He wanted me to cook some typical Mexican food. I made tacos, beans, rice, quesadillas, and burritos. I can safely say that they were satisfied by the end of it. After that I played video games with my younger host brother. He got upset because I kept on winning. ‘Twas fun. On Monday after school I had dance practice because I somehow managed to be placed in my school’s prom. We practiced for about two hours because here we have to ballroom dance for the attendees.  Anyway the details are probably getting boring; everything is always a routine at this point.

On Sunday the 10th I went to a mineral exposition in Ried with Joel. I was ecstatic because it is nigh impossible to find something of this caliber in Austria. There was a large hall full of rock and mineral merchants. We stayed there for about two hours at the end I bought a few Austrian specimens and I can’t wait to show them to the club. On February 13th I went to Salzburg with a Rotarian because the Rotary World President was going to be there. I remember when I went to the Pocket Green meeting one morning and I was given his pin. I thought that was such an honor. I never imagined that I would meet him, but a year later I did. I’m positive that you’ve seen that picture of me with Mr. Tanaka. I think that’s one of the highlights of exchange and what exchange is all about. That aside, he gave his speech about how one must find peace, and since we were in Salzburg he said we should find it through music. We had a quartet play for us various classical pieces that evening. It was an ethereal experience because there were plenty of people there to enjoy this and many representatives were there I thought it was a perfect example of bringing all together. I am extremely grateful that I was able to witness this event.

The next day I went back to school to be thrown into a soccer tournament. Well not thrown, but unexpectedly placed there. It was a project that my class needed to do for one of their classes. I was put in for roughly two minutes because my classmates know I don’t play soccer, but it was fun nonetheless. In the end the class managed to win the tournament and everyone was ecstatic.

Friday was the last day before the semester break started. We got a week of vacation and during that time one of my friends from southern Austria came to visit. He is called Keegan and he is from North Carolina. During the day we caught up about how everything was going for each other’s exchange. We also played board games with my younger host brother. Later in the evening it was time for the Maturaball, the prom I mentioned. We got ready and were driven by my host mom there. It was in a grand hall near my school and everyone was dressed accordingly. It was a spectacular night because we put on a show for everyone and it was a James Bond themed prom. After we did our dance we were able to socialize with the rest of the people and I met up with a few other exchange students that were there. We also met up with two teaching assistant from the US; one was from Colorado and the other from Oregon. On the 18th Keegan and I went to meet up with Liam in Wels, roughly a thirty minute train ride from my house. We went to eat some noodles and caught up with each other. From there we decided to go to Linz to meet our new exchange students from New Zealand and Australia.

A few days later Keegan left and I went back to school to start the routine once again. Om the 20th I went to cross country ski for the first time with my host mom. All I can say is that it isn’t my cup of tea, but I enjoyed looking at the vistas. Until the end the rest of the month was relaxed and the snow is finally clearing away from Riedau. I am hopeful for a beautiful spring as my host mom said that spring in Austria is completely wonderful. I can’t wait to go run through a hill, feel the freshest air, and gaze at the stars.

I hope you enjoyed this report as much as the last, albeit it’s not as long. Again I also ask you to forgive my lateness for this one, but March has me occupied at the moment. Surely though this time next month you should definitely have my report not fifteen days into April.

February242013

Anonymous said: This isn't really an ask, haha. But as a fellow exchange student, I really love your blog. Your writing is so excellent! Please keep it up. :)

Thanks, that means a lot to me! I will surely keep on writing! Where are you on exchange if I may ask?

February112013

January 2013

Journal Entry 6, Day 177, Hour 16 with 16 minutes, Season Winter:
I have been hit by a desolate wave of congealing tempereatures that can only be compared to those of liquid Nitrogen. I have to live off few provisions and I’m slowly losing my mind. In writing this I hope to preserve it in case I am found and freed from this glaciated hell-hole. Luckily it has been less than 300 days, but I am past the halfway point. I keep myself entertained by keeping conversation with the effigy I built out of the empty tin cans I have. The walls are closing in slowly and I can feel them whispering in my ear that they don’t wish for me to be here. Should I speak back to them? Maybe I shouldn’t because they may respond in a contentious manner that will increase my fall into aberration. No. I MUST not let that happen…
Only joking. Anyway as of writing this I have 5 months left in my host country. What a thought that is. I leave this country on July 8th in the morning and arrive in California the same day… in the morning if my calculations are correct. I’m actually quite eager to go back. That might surprise you coming from an exchange student, but I’m always eager for what I have set in store in the future no matter what it is. I dub it as my “Second Exchange”.
That aside I have plenty to speak about for the month of January. In short I went to Ebensee to see a traditional ceremony, traveled to Innsbruck, I went to Linz, I skiid successfully and in the process surprised many people, and I went to a Ball.
At the beginning of course I celebrated New Years. It was incredible because New Year’s Eve everyone was celebrating and having a good time. A friend of mine invited me to his party because he wanted everyone to experience the largest fireworks show that Riedau had ever seen. I also invited my Australian friend Cecelia to watch. That day I also bought some fireworks, I was ecstatic to light them because I managed to get fireworks that aren’t available in Sacramento. In short it was an amazing evening because everyone was in a good mood. Onward to the fireworks show though all I can say is that I was astounded. I had never experienced a fireworks show of that magnitude. It was as if the sun had never set, a gleaming display of bursting chemicals in the air. All sorts of colors, explosions that rattled one’s being. It’s as if a star was being born right before my very eyes.
After that amazing display, on January 3rd the Ried exchange students threw a Farewell Party for our oldies, Cecelia and Jordan. It was merry, but  at the same time it left us all feeling morose. None of us wanted for them to leave, but there exchange had come to an end. We didn’t want to say farewell to our good friends, but unfortunately that is life.
Two days later I went to Ebensee, a Rotarian from my club invited me to go. The reason for our trip was that every year in Ebensee the town hosts the Glöcklerlauf which translates to Bellman’s Run or the “Running of the Bells” (What a pun). It’s a traditional ceremony that is done every year to bring fortune and to ward off demons into the town. What the participants do is that they have to make a structure that will be situated on their head. It’s quite large, but light. It’s decorated with any design that the participant wishes it to be. It’s made out of balsa wood for the base, the design is made from colored paper that is slightly transparent and then it’s set between black paper. Inside it they set a candle to light it at night. The Glöcklers also have to wear large bells on their backs, a white jumpsuit, and lastly their headpiece. They look ethereal. The ceremony begins at 6 p.m. and all the Glöcklers begin at the bottom of the mountain and they have to walk up to a church near the top. When you see them it’s almost terrifying. What got to me was the sounds of all the bells clanging and clanging and clanging. It was as if I was actually experiencing the fourth part of The Bells. Completely unsettling, but it was a nice experience.
About a week later I went to Innsbruck to visit one of my friends that is being hosted there. I also met up with a few other exchange students who were meeting there that weekend. Innsbruck is an incredible city because it’s the perfect size and to top it off it’s surrounded by some of the most beautiful mountains in Austria. My friend gave us the tour off Innsbruck and we saw the Cathedral and it was breathtaking. We also went to a building which had a 360° view of Innsbruck, that made the city look more grandiose. After that we went to a few shops to buy some food. After that we spent the rest of the day seeing all of Innsbruck. The next day we went to an art museum where they were having a Narcicisst display. It had some interesting pieces, one of them was of a mannequin looking into a puddle of water and it dripped water from it’s eyes. It was an interesting piece. Another one was a box that had you record a short recording and then it repeated it back to you. There was also an art film that was being shown of a man that had multiple clones and he was throwing himself a party. It was completely out of the ordinary, but interesting. Later on in the evening we went to see The Hobbit in German. It was fun because we could understand all of it, but in the end I really wanted to hear the english dub. On Sunday my friends host father took us to the Tyroler Panorama because he designed the building and could get us a free entry. The museum was breathtaking it was showcasing the legendary history of Tyrol. The main attraction though was the Panorama which is a 360° painting depicting one of the major battles that had occured in Innsbruck. Form there we went to the other museum connected to it which was of the military history of Austria. It was incredible because it had military uniforms of every era. It was a wonderful weekend and I wish to visit Innsbruck again.
The next weekend I went skiing in Maria Alm which is a mountain in Salzburg. This was a trip that my rotarian asked me to come along (the same one who invited me to Ebensee). She said that every exchange student that comes to Austria should be taken on a ski trip since it’s the second biggest sport in the country. I gladly accepted and I’m so happy to have her as a rotarian. My host mom also came along. Anyway this was a three day long ski camp for adults. This was my second excursion and would total up my skiing days to five. The days were perfect for skiing, the sun was shining, the wind was delicious, and the snow was falling. I was incredibly eager to begin the weekend. Plenty of people always ask me how come I have never skiid before since there are extremely nice mountains in Lake Tahoe. On Friday we set off to ski a small slope in order for us to adjust a bit and to practice turning. We did that for about an hour and when we gained more proficiency we headed on to greater slopes. Apparently I managed to surprise everyone at my skiing abilites including myself since I’m not a person of balance. They said it’s inconceivable that someone could pick up skiing in only three days of skiing. My host mom says it’s an innate talent of mine. From there I managed to ski from two kilometers on the hardest level. It was amazing. I had never felt so free before skiing, it’s as if my veins were coursing with a newfound passion. The wind against my face and the adrenaline coursing throughout my body. I’m in love with skiing and I wish I had tried it out sooner, but definitely when I return I’m going to ski plenty and I can’t wait!
The following weekend some exchange students came to visit the Ried students for the weekend. It was three of them from South America: Argentina, Columbia, and Ecuador respectively. They came because there was a Matura Ball. A Matura Ball is essentially prom, but I believe it’s more fun because everyone dressed up fancier and the parents of the graduating class also show up because the students perform a dance. It’s reminiscent of the dances from history. Simply wonderful. It was a nice Ball because all of the exchange students caught up with each other.
That’s pretty much the bulk of January other days were normal and relaxing. I’m still learning as much German as I can, but at the same time I’m also learning the dialect which I’m not worrying too much about. If your curious as to my progress at the moment I’m reading four books in German. One is called Gai-Jin and it’s historical fiction about the tensions between Feudal Japan and Europe during the late 1800s. The second one was a book about the life and works of van Gogh. The third one is a Chemistry book and the fourth one is Hamlet. I’m enjoying it much and I can’t wait until I’m completely fluent, but as of now I’m focusing on expanding my vocabulary. Also, I’m participating more in the classes because before I had no idea as to what was going on because I’m in a business school. Now that I understand more I can engage myself in the classes. Next update I will make a video showing how my German sounds if your curious.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading what I experienced the month of January.
-Fabi
February62013

Here’s part two as promised. Albeit a bit late.

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