I have the window wide open and can hear the neighborhood children playing outside and fathers testing out their lawn mowers after the long winter. On one hand, I am so excited that the weather is as good as it is, but on the other hand .... not only does it mean I have to leave what I now call home in 8 short weeks, it also means that the bees will come (I have the most irrational fear of bees and flying insects, don't ask me why).
In the last six weeks, I have only been to school one day because of all the traveling I've been doing. And because of that, I had no time to update my blog. But fortunately, for the Europareise (Europe Trip) our leader gave us journals that we were required to keep, so I haven't forgotten anything! The following is my translation of what I wrote in German:
8 April 2013- Somewhere in Hungary
I'm sitting here in the bus and it is my first official day of the Europe Tour. Yesterday, after the half marathon (which I finished, but not as fast as I would have liked), I got in the train and headed to Prague to meet up with everyone. I arrived around 9:30 P.M. A woman, apparently the tour guide from earlier in the day, picked up me and a Rotarian, who is a chaperone but was in Mallorca on vacation so he came late. Then we met the group in a black light theater. It was so funny! Afterwards, though, we had to walk back to the hotel, which took absolutely forever. Or rather, we walked to the subway, which took half an hour (in my opinion, as my legs were absolutely dead), and then we walked from the subway stop to the hotel, which also took half an hour (again, in my opinion). Because I was exhausted, I was also not very happy. So as soon as we arrived in the hotel, I showered and fell right asleep. After a good 8 hours of shut-eye and breakfast, I felt a lot better.
Now we are driving to Budapest, but we have to go through Vienna first. Our leader was joking with us and said that turns out we can't drive to Budapest, so we're going straight to Vienna. Germans are very bad with sarcasm and so I had no idea if I was to believe her or not. I was really scared!
We just stopped for a break/to refill the tank of the buses. It was near an amusement park and shopping center. Everything looked very strange. Merlin and dragons, etc... Not really my thing. But I found a supermarket and got myself some fruit for lunch.
I am a bit disappointed that I missed Prague, but it is my fault so I can't say much. I mean, I was there but I didn't see much important sights. Hopefully I will be able to go back again.
Everyone is sitting now and either talking or sitting - that's what you get for being in a bus with South Americans! Earlier it was extremely quiet as everyone had slept.
8 April 2013- Budapest, Hungary
Tonight was very interesting. I don't mean that in the sense of drama or the like, but I met someone really cool from South Africa. I met South Africans before, but never had I really spoken with one. He came from a tribe which spoke an adapted version of the click language, which I found awesome (though he currently speaks 7 languages, or 11, not really sure but it's a crazy number). He loves history and the like, and we had a really interesting and mature conversation about the world, but especially Africa and the U.S. And afterward I thought to myself, "Now this is why I became an exchange student". It was comfortable to see only from my perspective as I left home. I never had questions, nor was I ever wrong. But now my world is a bit wider. Sometimes I am embarrassed, sometimes sad, sometimes uncomfortable, but here I am never bored, and I hope through this experience, these experiences, I will become a better person.
We arrived in Budapest around 6 P.M. From what I saw it is very pretty, although they don't use the Euro and I can't speak one word of Hungarian. After we arrived we ate dinner, a real 3 course meal. At first we were all confused, as we all got a very small plate of strange spaghetti (it was like a straw, hollow in the middle), and everyone was frustrated as we thought it was all that we were going to get that night. I was sitting with an Italian at our table, and he just kept shaking his head. It was super funny! Later we got actual food. I once asked the waiter to fill up the water pitcher and he got so mad, and consequently he was extremely rude to me. I had no idea what I did wrong because I don't speak Hungarian but later another waiter explained it to me - the water faucet is outside of the kitchen and we were expected to fetch the water ourselves. Oops!!
10 April 2013- Budapest, Hungary
Yesterday we did a tour through the city in the buses which was pretty but also very quick. I wanted to get out and look around. Afterward we had seven hours of free time and I went with three Australians, two Finns, and two other Americans to walk around the city ourselves. It's very typical to see a RYE student with his home country's flag worn as a cape. Yes, it's a bit strange. Anyway, one of the Australians had his flag as a cape and a man stopped us and asked if we happened to be RYE students. Apparently he had been one too! He came from Michigan and did his exchange year in Budapest. When he came back to visit his host city, he met his current girlfriend and decided to move to Budapest to get his masters degree. He showed us what we should see in Budapast and also told us what candy we should try. We saw the cathedral, the British Embassy (where they were filming Strike Back Four), and the Parliament.
10 April 2013- Bratislava, Slovakia
We are sitting in the bus, we want to drive further to Vienna. Bratislava was small (it seemed, as we had seen next to nothing). We sort of stayed in the main square, but no one was there aside from us RYE kids. It was weird. The weather was gorgeous and so was the architecture. There was a lot of old buildings, which I still have to get used to. In Berlin, what is important is what is not there- it was destroyed during WW2.
Only around 435,000 live in Bratislava, but the city is still the biggest in all of Slovakia. I find that ridiculous. I went with my friends to go eat, then walk around a little bit. They decided to all tan on the ground of the main square, where they got a lot of weird looks. It was very funny! Because we all arrived back on the bus in time, our leader said we could stop in Pisa between Venice and Rome. I hope she means it!
10 April 2013- On the Austrian Highway
I think we must have been pulled over on the highway for around one and a half hours. Oh, how I wish I was exaggerating. It has something to do with official paperwork, such as a permit to drive on the highway, but I am not sure. Regardless, it is taking way too long. We got out of the bus and walked around (not on the highway!) but we got back in again because we thought we were leaving. That's happened about three times now. Inside the bus it's hot and stinks like ribs, because someone stupidly brought take out into the bus. I don't get why, it's honestly very rude. (I am not very happy. I really want to get moving!)
10 April 2013- Vienna, Austria
I am already in love with Vienna, and it has not been two hours. I expected a city such as Berlin (which is wonderful but not very 'pretty') but I was completely wrong!
12 April 2013- Vienna, Austria,
Yesterday we toured the city by bus and saw Schloß Schönbrunn. Unfortunately, I did not pay much attention, but I thought it was absolutely gorgeous (just like everything in this city). I would very much like to live here! After, we went and ate Wienerschnitzel (in German, Vienna is called Wien, so Wienerschnitzel is 'Vienna cutlet'), which I found hilarious. And delicious. At the hostel I met someone else who also was an RYE student! He came from France and did his exchange year in Sweden. Small world! Later today we will tour the UN building here in Vienna, which I am looking forward to.
13 April 2013- Vienna, Austria
Today we toured the UNO here in Vienna, which was extremely interesting. Many of us exchange students want to go into politics or at least work for our respective governments (including me), so it was the perfect visit for today. It seemed as if here the focus was more concentrated on Iran, atomic power, and drug trafficking, and in NYC it's different. Which makes sense.
Afterward we had free time. The other exchange student from Philadelphia and I went to look for her camera. She left it the day we arrived in Vienna on the table in the lobby of our hostel, and we thought someone had brought it to the police (better than thinking someone had stolen it). Thank gosh German is also spoken in Austria, or the search would have been way more complicated as it already had been. First we spent about 30 minutes looking for the right police station, which turned out to be the wrong one. Then we had to spend about another 30 minutes looking for the right one, whose office had already closed. I wore the wrong shoes, so I was not very happy. It was so painful! The office made an exception for us as we had called beforehand, so we were able to pick up the camera. Afterward we ate normal pizza, the 1€/slice kind. I missed it! We then went to a classical concert with Rotary, which was super boring. I apologize, but it really was. The people dressed in weird costumes and we were in a house, not in a concert hall, and there were bad ballerinas there, and overall it was just strange.
Because I want to go enjoy the nice weather outside, I will finish the entry later this week. I hope you understand!