I meant to post this two days ago, but the WiFi here at the Center is very poor, so it pretty much doesn’t work for anyone.
Guten Morgen Alles! Good morning everyone. It is currently 4:40 am California time, but here in Frankfurt, Germany it is 1:40 pm. We are nine hours ahead and wow, what a trip it has been so far! I was supposed to leave SFO (San Francisco airport) at 3:00 pm, but my flight was delayed until 7:00 pm. Thankfully, it changed to 4:30, but did not actually leave until a little after 5:00. The pilot was really nice and tried to make up the difference in our flight, but even given the increased speed in our trip, we arrived an hour and 20 minutes later than we were supposed to. Arriving in Frankfurt at 12:30 pm, I ran from one side of the airport to the other in hopes of making my 12:25 flight. We were only 5 minutes late, but given the distance and the fact that my backpack could take out a sumo wrestler by its weight alone, I didn’t make it. Halfway through my sprint across the terminal I found a lonely cart so I threw my backpack and the rest of the junk I was carrying in it and continued to push it through herds of people staring at me either because of my lack of breathe and protruding beads of sweat falling across my face, or because I am the only Asian in this airport not going to China or Japan, given there are only about 5 Asians in the airport anyway. I am clearly a foreigner. I say this, but you wouldn’t actually believe the amount of looks I get. I estimate that within a second or two, with every passing person, I get a look, sometimes a double take, but I get looks from almost every single person that passes by. It’s weird to be the minority here. Anyway, I ran, stole a luggage cart, begged for a ride on the little carts that the flight attendants ride throughout the terminals, and got a ride on the little cart just to arrive at my gate with no one there. Had I been there 5 minutes earlier I would have probably made it, but because it was 12:50 and the flight took off at 12:55, I was too late. I might possibly be sore tomorrow from all the exercise. I don’t think I’ve sprinted that hard since lacrosse season ended. But regardless off all the delays and setbacks, I went to the closest store, bought a Jack Daniels/coke mixed drink and a Disney cartoon book because after everything, I think I deserved it. I took a seat at a café next to my gate and started relaxing. The cartoon book is in all Deutsch (German) so I’ve got plenty of time to practice my German. Kiddie books are the easiest way to learn or catch up on a new language. More people than you would realize ride bikes in this airport… That’s a new thing I’ve never seen before. Also, the airplane I was on had two stories. I’ve never seen that either but I guess the business class and first class people sit up there. I am so tired. My goal is to stay up until 8 pm Austria time, 11 am California time, to beat the jetlag. So, give it a couple hours, but next stop: Salzburg, Austria.
It is now 1:49 pm California time, and 10:49 pm Austria time. My roommate Clare and I just got back from our first venture out to the bars tonight and we are exhausted. I arrived as the second to last person to show up to the University of Portland Center, had dinner, and went to orientation. It was a brief meeting headed by the director of our program. He went over all the basic rules and “do’s and don’ts” of Salzburg, like do not show up to dinner wearing pajamas and don’t go streaking or stealing street signs. Also, don’t drink on your balcony straight from the bottle, because you will be considered a “trashy American.” Good things to know; Then Ashley, Clare and I went to a pub, had our first beers here in Salzburg, explored the downtown, and got a taste of the nightlife here. So far, it has been a successful first day. More on what it’s like here later, but at this point my body doesn’t really know what time it is or how tired it should feel so I think I just need a good night’s sleep. So gute Nacht Alles und Auf Wiedersehen! (Good night and bye!)
On this beautiful Thursday morning, we all woke up bright and early to meet downstairs promptly at 7:30 am to eat our first Austrian breakfast. After this we had a brief orientation meeting to meet the assistant directer and one of the German professors here at the Center. We were split into groups based on our abilities such as who can cook, who is outgoing, who was vegan/vegetarian, etc. Each Sunday dinner is not provided for us, students, and we feed each other based on our groups. Every group takes turns each week to serve dinner and these groups would also be our teams for the scavenger hunt. Next, we were given a scavenger hunt list and set off to complete each task, the only tricky part was that the entire thing was in German… It’s a good thing we’re all fluent, right? Hah… kidding. It was the biggest struggle of all. When you put two third year German students, two second year students, a whole bunch of first year German students, and three months of summer time to forget everything academic you know, the team’s ability to translate German to English becomes much tougher. We ran around different areas of Salzburg completing tasks such as finding certain buildings, hours of a particular grocery stores/post offices/doctors, and taking photos of various people/statues. We stopped for ice cream to reward ourselves for our hard work and also because it was a very hot day. We walked around Salzburg for about 4-5 hours. After this we formed committees: social, cultural, stewardship, sport, and spiritual, ate dinner, and headed out to karaoke night at O’Malley’s. O’Malley’s is a favorite pub/bar loved by many UP students from this abroad program. It comes very highly recommended. The night was filled with laughs, beer, many, many songs, beer, and strangely University of Redlands students. They are studying abroad in Salzburg as well so I’m sure we will be seeing more of them in the future.
Today was particularly tiring, but it was all worth it! We had breakfast and then met up to take a tour of the Salzburg salt mines. We were in the district of Salzburg called, “Hallein” and we visited the Dürrnberg salt mines. First we put on these white/brown outfits that kind of made us look like characters straight out of Breaking Bad. These outfits kept us warm as well as protected our clothes when we rode down giant wooden slides within the salt mines. We took a small green train type of transportation that brought us deeper into the mines. As we continued into the mines, the temperature dropped 10 degrees Celsius. The mines were amazing, filled with history and salt. The ocean way back in the day was pushed over and trapped in by land, hardening the salt and mixing it with the Earth to create large salt pockets within the mountain. People have mined for the mountain’s salt since the early days of Celtic times. Kings inherited the salt along with the land when they took over and used the salt as a major trading good because it kept food from perishing and is an important ingredient and tool in our lives now as well as preceding eras. Everything in the salt mines was salty: the air, the water, even the walls! A couple of friends and I licked one of the walls, out of curiosity and without the tour guide looking, and discovered that even the walls were very salty. The white pieces of the wall are saltier than the browner pieces of the wall as the white streaks are more pure. After riding slides throughout the mines, cruising across a Brine Lake (a salt/water mixture used to soften the salt and make it easier to export the salt through pipes run through the mountain), and tasting the pure salt water (which was disgustingly salty), we were given some time to wander off and explore for ourselves. We discovered some cool places within the old Celtic neighborhood.
We then headed off to Festund Hohenwerfen, which is the Hohenwerfen Castle that sits on top of a mountain, overlooking the city of Salzburg. We arrived at the bottom of where the castle is, ate lunch, and made the trek up since the only way of getting to the castle is by foot. We toured the entire place, played with some of the toys that were used as entertainment when the castle was in full swing, and even got to go to the top of the bell tower, giving us an amazing view of Salzburg and the castle. We watched a bird show that consisted of falcons, eagles, and vultures flying over our heads and walking around in front of us. I wish I knew more information on these amazing birds, but the whole show was entirely in German so I only understood part of it. Tired, hungry, and ready for a shower, we all headed back to the center where we proceeded to fend for ourselves for dinner. My roommate, Clare, and I got groceries from the local grocery store, and made us a home made meal! It was delicious, and we have left overs so no starving for us! We are now at the computer lab finishing up all of our Internet needs, because besides the lab we are almost completely cut off from the cyber world. Good news: the Center will be getting new WiFi that should be a lot faster and a lot better; Bad news: the WiFi has yet to arrive and then once installed it takes 50 days to work to its fullest ability… So if you don’t hear from me for a while it’s because Internet connection is not a thing, but hopefully the new WiFi will get here soon! Clare and I are now headed off to our room to watch The Sound of Music, unpack, and be anti-social.
Until next time… whenever that shall be; Auf Wiedersehen!