Monday, January 23, 2012

{days four & five}

hallo! (yes, that's german for hello!) these past two days have been super crazy busy, i'm loving it! i'm finally getting out in the city and making my away around the cobblestone streets of vienna. although it has been cold and rainy, there is a unique sense of beauty always present no matter where you go, what you see, or who you see it with. i've only been here six days, but it seems like i've lived here my whole life! besides the whole speaking no german issue. but it's coming right along, and soon that glitch will be no longer! i have a feeling that things are going be quite lovely these next three months.

sunday was a great day. i went to the international ward. it was nice to be in the midst of english speakers! there was such a variety of people there, i loved it. there were people from africa, china, america, germany, and even some from vienna trying to improve their english. it was a beautiful experience being there with those humble people. they have such sweet testimonies which strengthened mine so much. their love for the gospel was so overwhelming, it made me realize how blessed i am to be a member of the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints. in our sacrament meeting, a young girl who had just been baptized a little while back spoke. she talked about how she was studying abroad in california and her host family were LDS and she started going to church with them, but she wasn't interested at all. eventually, the missionaries started teaching her but she was confused with everything and was losing hope. finally, she prayed, really prayed, to heavenly father to help her know he was there for her, and he cared about her and loved her. she pulled out a sheet of paper where she had written down the way she felt after praying. she said she felt happy and peaceful, and she got goosebumps even though she wasn't cold. then she went out in the kitchen were her host mom was, and she was humming ave maria. the girl said that song had special meaning in her life and when she heard her host mom singing that, she knew heavenly father had sent her host mom to look after her and love her. two weeks later she was baptized. her testimony was so pure, it touched my heart. after church we came home and eva had made us a gourmet italian dinner! (she lived there for 20 years) we had this most delicious pasta with tomato sauce and fresh parmesan cheese. then she made the best salad in the world. it had a balsamic vinegar dressing on it, and it was to die for. for dessert, she brought out this ice cream dessert i could have eaten all day! have you ever heard of ribbon candy? well it looks like this:

so it was like this, but the ribbon part was chocolate, and then vanilla ice cream was in all the nooks and on the top and bottom, with chocolate sprinkled on the top of the ice cream! it was sooooo good! dinner was really nice. we just talked to eva and helga for hours and got to know each other better. i found out helga used to teach english and german in in the middle east for 10 years. and eva teaches business classes to 18-20 year olds. i had no idea they were such business women! at some point i asked eva what her opinion was on the sound of music and guess what? she's never even heard of it!! i almost passed out in unbelief. i have to get her a copy asap. then we did dishes together and chatted some more. they have had such interesting lives, i love hearing them. they are so fun to talk to and be with. i love my host "family"!

today was the first day of classes! it's pretty crazy around this place between the hours of 6-8am. me, kristin, and eva are all trying to get ready and out the door by 7:30. now for 3 boys and one bathroom, this might not be such a problem. but 3 girls and one bathroom is a different story! things have been going pretty smoothly though, so it's all good. we got out the door and on the bus on time and made it to school no problem! we started the day off with two grueling hours of german. it was a blast! my teacher's name is elisabeth, and she's a hoot. she speaks about 10 languages: german, english, french, portuguese, chinese, and japanese. and i thought 4 years of french was impressive...
anyway, at the beginning of class she said something that really inspired me to want to learn. she said, "the more senses you activate while learning, the more easily you will learn."
that makes learning sound fun right? so, that is one of my goals this semester: use as many senses as i can to learn so it will be more enjoyable! i think study abroad is a perfect opportunity to practice that concept. especially in vienna where i can see the history, read the history, hear the history, discuss the history, see the language, read the language, hear the language, discuss the language, see the art, read about the art, hear the art, and discuss the art. not the mention the many "exotic" smells that are ever so prevalent in this city. man, talk about activating the senses! i learned a lot of german today, and i can say where i'm from and what i love! so here's a little taste of my knowledge-
ich bin grace. ich heisse grace newman. ich liebe meine famille. ich bin in wien, und wien ist in österreich, und österreich ist in europa. ich liebe wien und österreich. ich bin nicht österreicherin, ich bin amerikanerin. ich spreche englisch, französisch, und deutsche. ich komme aus amerika und ich studie deutsche in wien in die austro-amerikan universität. ich liebe deutsche!
so yeah, there you go! after german we had a 2 hour fine arts class. i am most excited about this one! basically our class is walking through museums and writing about how we feel and what we see, what we like and don't like. and our teacher is this artsy fartsy lady and she's the cutest thing. i definitely think it will be my favorite! next class we are going to the wien (this is pronounced veen by the way) museum! i can hardly wait. after this class, we had a lunch break so me, aly and alexa went exploring for somewhere cheap to eat! we had planned on going to the naschmarkt, but we couldn't find our way there. so after wandering for a good half our, we finally asked a girl with a tooth ring where we could get a sandwich. she directed us to the mall, and inside we found a billa. (grocery store) we went and got sandwiches and walked around while eating them, enjoying the scenery. we had passed a bakery with delicious looking pastries in the window, so we made our way back and bought one for ourselves! we called it our vienna pastry initiation. and they were SO YUMMY

 i got an apricot jam filled pastry and 
she got a chocolate chip muffin.
after that whole shenanigan, headed back to the school because we had to walk down to the city building to get registered. but we had a few minutes to spare, so we took some pictures.

sorry i look like frankenstein...
hey, it happens.

this is what i see everyday when i go to school.
it's the vienna opera house! so pretty.
we hopefully get to go on a tour of it for class and i can't wait! 

my school
we walked down to the city building and it is in the most extravagantly beautiful part of town! i was in awe the whole time, camera at the ready. 

i don't exactly know what this is, but i thought it looked really cool!
if i find out, you'll be the first to know.

this church reminded me of something that would be 
in the beginning part of the sound of music where 
they're showing off all the cool scenery!
(even though austrians DON'T know what the sound of music is!)
after we got all registered, we had about a half an hour to get back to the school, so we wandered back to the institute stopping in every ally, by every cool looking building to take some snapshots! i walked back with a couple girls i've met over the last few days, aly, paige, alexa, and kristin. 

that's the hofburg in the 
background with the green roof!

alexa: everybody! pose like models!
me: uhh... *panic* hand on hip!
that's model-y, right?
i mean they do it on 
america's next top model.

the steps that lead up to a museum that 
has some of monet's work.
i'm pretty sure this is one of his paintings,
 just not sure which one. 
but i'll let you know when i go inside!
after some site-seeing, we had a meeting where markus told us which choirs we would be performing in. (when i signed up for this, i thought it was like a group of us from the study abroad getting together and singing at the church.) no, we get assigned to real austrian choirs! markus told us we would be going to sing with jean-jeaque rosseau, gave us directions, and we were off! we were kind of bummed, because we had planned on going to family home evening at the institute, but that was right when practice was. markus asked that we go and try things out tonight and see how it goes, so we did. by this time it was about 3:30, and practice was at 7 and we didn't really want to go home and come back. so me alexa and paige decided to go spend a few hours at st. stephan's cathedral and complete an assignment for our fine arts class, which was recording our first impression of the cathedral. i think we spent more time outside taking pictures than we did doing anything else! the cathedral is undergoing major renovations at the moment. i believe it was originally made of limestone, and due to weathering they are restoring the whole outside. it was still incredible though!

the black part on the side is the original stone, 
and the white steeples are the renovated parts.
it's a really beautiful gothic style cathedral, i couldn't
get enough of it!


one of the spires 
legend has it that this tree is a tribute 
to a man who fell while laying stone 
on the spire behind it.
just kidding... i totally just made that up.

this engraving was really cool.
it depicts christ's whole life, starting 
with his birth in the middle and continuing 
from the left all the way to his death.

oh just touching the steeple on st. stephens.

some more of the disintegrating limestone.

me& alexa inside the cathedral
at first we thought the light was coming from 
the intricate stained glass windows and it was breathtaking! 
 then we realized, to our dismay, the cathedral was filled with projectors.
worst realization ever.


as we were walking up to the cathedral, they had the giant chairs! 
being tourists, we had to get our picture-taking on.

gettin' all touristy!
what happened next was incredibly unexpected and exciting! me, alexa, and paige decided um, we're hungry! so we went into the u-bahn station and pulled out a book of recommended restaurants near our choir destination. we found a few options and caught the next train in our direction. we got off at a stop in hopes of eating at a restaurant where boars come up looking for food! we got off the train and realized we had to take a 20 minute bus ride and we didn't have time. so we decided to go try a bohemian restaurant at the stop we had to get off for choir. the only directions we had were "get off the u-bahn and walk 150 meters or so until you find it." but, we figured we could find it. no such luck! we got off the u-bahn, picked a direction with lots of lights and started walking. about 20 minutes later, we decided we had definitely walked more than 150m, and our hungry was out of controlalala. desperate, we stopped at the nearest cafe. i hadn't even made it through the door before i saw a giant barrel covered in shot glasses and breathed in a lung full of cigarette smoke, and alexa said "nope!" and turned around. we started laughing for 13 minutes! (it may have had to do with the fact that we hadn't eaten and were extremely tired!) we wandered down the way a bit, and found a shnitzel joint. by this point we were desperate! so we gave in and ordered some food. the restaurant looked like an old 50's diner, but instead of cheeseburgers, it had shnitzel! it seemed a little sketch... but good news is:

i had my first shnitzel!! 

it was pretty good.
my thoughts: it felt like eating a giant chicken nugget.
but, i was so hungry even a walrus would have tasted good!
after dinner, we had about 30 minutes to find our choir practice so we ventured on. we found the address pretty quick thanks to paige and when we got there our friend lucy was waiting to play the piano. to our surprise, the address he'd given us was an apartment. so, i start freaking out thinking, "a 'choir teacher'? yeah sure he's probably some creep getting 4 american girls to come to his apartment!!!!!!!" meantime, a man walks up to us heading into the apartment and we ask him if he knows this jean-jaques rousseau. nope, he didn't. he told us to check a house next to "the container" at the end of the street. we walked in that direction but found no container, and definitely no house. luckily, we had jean-jaques number so i called him and he told us it was at the school, which was right next to the address we had received. we got there and some very nice viennese people were there to greet us! they were so nice and friendly, i felt right at home! we sat in mixed formation and started warming up in german. ha! i felt so stupid so i mostly hummed. it was a blast though, and we had so much fun! everybody was so kind and welcoming, i felt right at home. jean-jaques told us we would get to perform in the parliament building! just one problem: the day of the concert is the day after we leave for italy. it was really disappointing! but maybe i can convince them to change it for us. i made my way home, and that in and of itself was quite satisfying! and as soon as my head hit the pillow, i was out.

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