Episode 3: Host Families

Like many other programs, while studying abroad in Vienna, you live with host families. These host families can range from single mothers or fathers to families with children or you could even be living with grandparents! Some families even have other host students like Thomas’s. But either way, living with a host family is an amazing experience.

“I have really enjoyed getting to know my host mother. At my host family I am not the only international student, I have other students living with me. One from England, Japan and Latvia.” – Thomas Foy

For example, my host mom is self employed after retiring, with two kids and three grandkids. She is absolutely amazing! While living with a host family I have had many opportunities to grow as a person, and its only one month into the trip! Many of us see our host families everyday and therefore have the ability to speak with in german which helps  It is really an amazing experience. My host mom is big into fashion and all things Vienna. Sometimes she’ll give me tips on where to go and what to do. She typically gives me less touristy options and more Viennese options which has helped me acclimate to the city.

Each host family gives you breakfast, which lets be honest, is amazing! The breakfast isn’t your typical American breakfast of milk and cereal. You usually have bread with all sorts of toppings including marmalade, meat, cheese, tomatoes and even cucumbers! While living with my host mom I have had a different type of bread every day! Ana’s host family gives her a little piece of home every morning with an Oregon coffee mug. Along with breakfast you get one home-cooked dinner a week. Most host families take this time to share Viennese meals with you. For example, Thomas’s host mom makes a homemade Apfelstrudel  (Apple Strudel) during his dinners. And if you enjoy sweet dumplings then a Germknödel is just for you! These are dumplings usually filled with a fruit marmalade and taste AMAZING.

“My host family is very social and have introduced me to a lot of local events in Vienna. They are very sweet, always making sure I have everything I need and I also get to practice my German with them!” – Ana Alfaro

Overall living with a host family is wonderful and great for living in such a big city. The locations of each host family varies throughout the city. Thomas lives in the city center, while Vanessa lives near the Donau River. Michaela and I both live in the sixth district however, she is right across from the Naschmarkt and I am right next to a very popular shopping street. The locations provide everyone with so many great opportunities to explore the city. Even the location of the Institute is amazing. It is located right across from the Opera which is right in the center of the city. The institute is about a five minute ubahn ride away from everything! We’re basically located in Vienna’s 5th Avenue.

“My host mom is very active. she works from home but goes out during the day on her bike and takes her dog along with her everywhere. I also love hanging out with my host dog, her name is Adda.” – Michaela Adams

Everyone should experience living with a host family and I am so grateful to be experiencing it now. With only being a little bit over a month into this trip, I have grown so much as a person while living with my host mother. I can’t wait to see what the next three months have in store!

Auf Wiedersehen!

Melissa Rockow

Episode 2: Dorfgastein ->Wien (Week One)

We made it to Wien!

Welcome back! To finish off episode 1 we spent the rest of the week in Dorfgastein doing “leisurely walks” aka hikes up mountains and waterfalls. On day 4 we hiked up the tallest waterfall in Europe, the Krimmler Wasserfälle (Krimml Waterfall) is 1,247 feet and is extremely beautiful.

The whole group with our hiking guide
The whole group with our hiking guide

On the 18th of August we made our way to Wien, making a pitstop in the beautiful city of Salzburg. Salzburg is the home of the infamous composer, Mozart. while on a tour we got to see both his birth place and his living quarters. 

The place where Mozart was born.
The place where Mozart was born.

 We also learned that Salzburg got its name from the large amount of barges that were traveling on the Salzach river, caring Salt.  Over Salzburg is a beautiful sight to see with the Salzach River running through the middle.

The Salzach River, Salzburg.
The Salzach River, Salzburg.

Later that day we took the train to Wien were we finally met our host families!! Yay! Meeting my host mom was something that made me quite nervous at first. Yes it can be very awkward also. However after settling down and learning all the ins and outs of living with your host family, everything seems to fall into place and all the nerves you had before seem small.

With great luck, Austria was experiencing the hottest summer yet and my host mom took me to her favorite swimming spot. What’s a better bonding experience than swimming?

After spending the weekend settling in we began our first week in Wien. On August 20 we had orientation and a walking tour of Wien. Then we started our first class at the Institute, with another walking tour. That week we had roughly 4 walking tours, which at first seemed overwhelming but each tour showed us a different part of the city. Wien is roughly 2 million people and consists of 23 districts and without those tours, we may not have seen those places on our own.

During the summer, swimming is very popular and therefore, we swam ALOT. We also rented a small paddle boat on the Donau river. Which in Wien, is spilt into three sections, the Donau, the New Donau and the Old Donau. We spent most of our time in the new Donau.

Overall the end of Dorfgastein, Salzburg and our first week in Wien was amazing. As we continue our journey, we learn new things everyday. We have found new places and areas everyday. And we have had fun everyday.

Stay tuned to hear about our trip to Budapest, Hungary. (:

Thanks for reading!

Melissa Rockow

Ponchos are the newest fashion statement in outdoor clothing. (:
Ponchos are the newest fashion statement in outdoor clothing. (:
Part 2 of the the 3 part waterfall.
Part 2 of the the 3 part waterfall.
Vanessa standing on a bridge crossing the river.
Vanessa standing on a bridge crossing the river.
Flat land! We finally made it to the bottom!
Flat land! We finally made it to the bottom!
The end of the waterfall.
The end of the waterfall.

Episode 1: Portland -> Dorfgastein

Hallo from Austria!

Boy oh boy has it been an amazing first two weeks. From Dorfgastein, Austria to Salzburg, Austria and now Vienna, Austria. However, let’s start from the beginning. Our group of 7 flew out of Portland, Oregon straight to San Fransisco. From there we had a 10 and a half hour flight to London Heathrow airport(LHW). This is where our trip truly began and our 2 days of travel turned into 4 days of travel…

We had landed in LHW with a couple hours of layover time and decided to relax. After a few hours Ana, another group member, and I checked our flight and found out that it was canceled! Yes canceled! After a few hours of waiting and speaking with the airline, they helped us find a new flight the next day to Madrid then Vienna at 10am. However, this flight happened to be flying out of a different airport 1 hour away! The airlines supplied us with transportation to get there and they told us we would be able to get a hotel there as well.

After arriving at the new airport, London Gatwick, we went to the airline desk and told them our situation. At this point is was roughly 9:30pm and we had been awake for roughly 13 hours. The desk at London Gatwick told us that they had no hotel rooms to give to us seeing as they’re flights were canceled as well. Therefore, we were left with no hotel room. We stayed in touch with Linfield and the director of our school in Vienna as we tried very hard to find a hotel.

Around midnight we decided, as a group, to stay put and not find a hotel. While the group found a comfy spot in the airport, Ana and I managed to negotiate with a small hotel within the airport for a room to shower in, the catch: we had to wait until 4am. After agreeing and thanking them dearly, we waited the 4 more hours siting comfortably in the airport. Once 4 am came around we all rotated through the room to shower. Around 8am we checked into our flight and headed to Madrid. After landing and being on planes for well over 24 hours, we were finally off to Vienna. Along with flight cancellations we ended up missing our 2pm train on the 10th of August seeing as we landed later that day. We ended up finally staying in a hotel the night of the 10th in Vienna and catching the 2pm train to Dorfgastein on the 11th.

While in Dorfgastein we stayed at the Pension Theresa. Monday was our first full day that was filled with lots of hiking and eating. (Dorfgastein is located in the Gastein Valley and is part of the Austrian state, Salzburg.) Our hiking began with a gondola ride up the side of the mountain above Dorfgastein. From the top you could see the long mountain ranges and small towns neighboring Dorfgastein. You could also see the Spiegel See which is used in the winter time to create more snow for Skiing and Snowboarding.

A view of Spiegel See in Dorfgastein

On the way down we ate at an Alm. Alms are mountain farms where many people bring their animals during the summer. The animals typically recieve better nutrients while staying at the Alms due to the nutrients within the valley region.

Heading to the Alm!
The Alm we ate at for lunch.

 

After lunch we hiked down to the Mittelstation (Middle Station) of  the gondola. From there we rode the gondola back down to the bottom of the mountain. Ending our first amazing day in Dorfgastein.

And after our wonderful travels and amazing first day in Dorgastein, our adventure continued…

Stay tuned for more and thanks for reading!(:

Melissa Rockow

Ana on top of the mountain.
Herrmann (AAIE Director), Ana, Vanessa and Michaela looking out over the Alps.
Another view of the Alps while in Dorfgastein.