Saturday, January 21, 2012

{day three}

 well, today was an important day, it explains the name of my blog! today, was my birthday. i turned twenty in vienna. i had quite a lovely birthday. it started off with sleeping in until 9:30 and waking up to sun rays streaming through my window. i got ready for the day with no awkward bathroom encounters. (a+) when i first got here, i unzipped my suitcase and found this sitting atop my clothes.

"youuuuu sneaky mooom!"
so i waited until today and it was the first thing i did after i woke up. i opened the envelope and found the best card in the world in there.

but wait, it gets better! (hard to believe, trust me. i know.) i opened the card and found the sweetest note from my mom, brought tears straight to my eyes. next to the note was something wrapped in tissue paper. so i opened it and this is what i found:

we had to stop at tj maxx on our way to the airport, and my mom had seen me looking at this in the case and talking about how much i loved it!
again, "youuuu sneaky moooom!"
i wore it today and i love it.
thanks mom:)
i had an orientation meeting and the hinckley's house (they are our directors) at noon, so eva was kind enough to print us off nifty maps that show us which kind of transportation to take to get to certain places, and then how to walk to the exact address. so me and kristin hitched a ride on the A59 bus (i'm becoming quite familiar with this one because i take it everyday to get to school) and once we got off caught the u-bahn and headed towards friedensbrüke.

friedensbrüke station

we got off the u-bahn and moseyed our way around until we found the hinckley's home. we arrived at the hinckley's for lunch and jane made us some delicious authentic viennese soup with the divine bread found everywhere here. before we ate, we were sitting around mingling and waiting for the rest of the students to get there. i was sitting on my chair when my dear friend alexa walked in with something in her hand. she walked right towards me and said happy birthday! handing me a cute little bouquet of pink and white tulips. 


it was so nice and thoughtful of her! 

the flowers were a dead give away that it was my birthday, so everyone sang happy birthday to me in german. i think it went something like this:

Zum Geburtstag viel Glück,
                                                                      zum Geburtstag viel Glück,
zum Geburtstag, lieber Grace,
zum Geburtstag viel Glück!
*disclaimer: i looked this up on google so it could be completely wrong! 

we then took care of some logistics concerning our time here in vienna. we discussed classes (which i am SO excited about now!), we talked about our 2 week excursion to italy, salzburg, and other places that side of europe, we navigated church meeting houses, and...
we got our phones. check this beauty out:

i suggested iPhones, but i like this one a lot better! so how it works is:
1. t-mobile is our supplier
2. we buy minutes! 10€=1000 minutes
3. 1 text=10 cents
4. 1 phone call= 5 cents for the first 2 minutes then it's free
so after our meeting, we activated our phones and all 25 of us plundered the t-mobile store and put minutes on our phone. it was exhilarating! after the t-moblie fiasco, me and kristin walked over to the billa to do some grocery shopping for tomorrow.

it's different here in vienna grocery stores because when you buy produce, you put it on a scale, select the type of produce it is on a touch screen, it weighs it and prints out a sticker with the price on it! it was really cool but there was just one problem: everything was in german! so i bought an orange and had no problem finding that button. i started bagging a couple grapefruit and kristin started to weigh a cantaloupe. a worker came over and pointed out that there was already a sticker on there so she didn't have to weigh it. that was fine, but now he knew we were americans, and so he just watched us. i started to weigh my grapefruit and was looking for the button on the screen for literally TWO seconds when he came up and pushed my hand aside and selected the button for me. i was fine with it but guess what? he was wrong! he pushed the orange button! ha! who's the clueless one now? just sayin'. well, i didn't want to look stupid, so i just went along with it and finished my shopping. i got pastries and treated myself to a  kinder egg. 

for those of you who don't know what these are... find one, buy one, and eat it! they are dee-lish. 
anyway when i got up to the register the lady started to scan my grapefruit and realized something was amiss. she asked me something in german. "...uh sprechen si englisch?" she did, sing praises, and i explained the situation and she straightened things out. we headed back home with plans to meet back at the school around 6 to celebrate my birthday! by this time, it was snowing cats and dogs. i pulled on my galoshes, slipped into my parka, grabbed my umbrella and ran to the bus stop! i met the crew and we decided to go get the "world's best hot dogs that just so happen to be in vienna! now, viennese hot dogs are a little different than american hot dogs. they are HUGE, first of all. and then get a loaf of bread, drill a hole down the middle, squirt ketchup and/or mustard down the hole, and then stuff the hot dog down there, then squirt more ketchup and/or mustard. they are so hefty hefty hefty, but so good!

aly me & alexa

after the hot dogs, we wanted to go get cake! we didn't want to bombard a cafe with 23 students, but we also didn't want to be standing out in the cold and snow. so what did we do? we went down into the u-bahn station to find some sort of bakery down there. (they are full of shops and restaurants. it's great!) we found and ankers, but they were closing, so we headed down to the starbucks. authentic, right? well maybe not, but they had this delicious chocolate cake truffle that was to die for! 

don't mind the wet-washed-out-rat look... it's all rage here in vienna.
{especially after a good snow storm}

the group of lovely people that were so kind to help me celebrate my birthday! thanks guys, you're great!
we all went home after this because our plans to explore the city were spoiled. but it turned out quite nicely because when i got home, i went into the kitchen and talked to helga for about 2 hours. my love for her grew 5 sizes! she is such an amazing lady. she told us about her life and her previous marriage. she came from an abusive relationship and her husband would beat her, and one time almost choked her to death when she tried to intervene a beating her husband was giving their 9 month year old son. she starting crying at this point and my heart broke for her. she told me the only reason she didn't leave her husband was for her children. she didn't want to take the father out of their lives. but one time, while conversing with her son, he kept asking her why daddy was never home to play with them. she kept telling her son to ask his father, but he refused and persisted in nagging helga. one day in frustration she exclaimed "just ask your father!" it scared him and he cried. as she comforted her son, she asked him why he would not ask his dad. he confided in her and told her that he was afraid his dad would tell him he didn't love them and that's why he was always gone.
she said at that moment something clicked, and she knew she had to get her 3 sons away from their father, and she divorced him. a few years later she met her neighbor who was LDS and she started meeting with the missionaries. helga and 2 of her sons were baptized, and the 3rd was as well the following year when he turned 8. 


  1. Gracey Lou

    I hope you know how much I love reading your blog. Basically I think that you are the funniest person alive. I am so grateful for you and I am really happy that you are experiencing the world! What a stupendous opportunity! Keep having fun and tell Europe hi for me :)

  2. I am glad to see that you had such a happy birthday. I love hearing about all of your experiences. It is great to document them so well so you will always be able to remember everything. THe food looks AMAZING! It made me so hungry that I am now eating some Lucky Charms, but that soup looks sooo much better. You are sucha great girl with so many talents. I am glad that you are having this experience (and a little jealous). Love you