The first and largest Christmas market in Vienna has finally opened! Today, for my conversation hour, we decided to check out the Christkindlmarkt, which lies in front of the Rathaus. We decided to go in the evening--the perfect time to see everything lighted up, which made everything even more beautiful: for example, the trees decorated with overly large Christmas ornaments and Christmas lights that shaped out angel wings and stars along the street. Each stand sells different things; one can find a variety of Christmas ornaments, pastries (Lebkuchen), Punch, Glühwein and all sorts of crafts. Viennese take Christmas very seriously and they go all out with decorations. Everywhere we walk we see Christmas lights, and it’s not even December yet! However, we consider ourselves very lucky to see all this before we leave.
Next weekend is Thanksgiving and the Institute has organized a large dinner for the Linfield students and our host families; we will be accompanied by other students from other colleges who also come from the United States. A dinner similar to our Thanksgiving dinner consists of eating goose and other traditional Austrian foods such as sauerkraut and Knödel. Therefore, last weekend we had the pleasure to eat goose, sweet purple sauerkraut and potato Knödel--once again, one of the best Austrian dinners!
Our return back to Oregon is around the corner and everyone is doing final trips within and outside of Austria. Last weekend some of the students planned a trip to Fusch an der Glocknerstraβe which is known to have the biggest waterfall in the world! After Fusch an der Glocknerstraβe they traveled to Innsbruck to visit Andi Schwab, last year's German conversation partner. This week another student is in Venice with their host family and this weekend I travel to Rome with another student. It’s definitely been a busy semester but also a very memorable and amazing one. The group has learned and done so much. A quick example of the many things we did this week was visiting the Turkish embassy and meeting the ambassador, and next week we get to visit the U.S. embassy, the Belvedere palace, and a Bosnian mosque. So much more to do and so little time!