mjd246


Study Abroad in Vienna, Austria


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mjd246

Today we left for Prague!  It was a last minute decision, but since we had some extra time after our class, Lauren, Kat, Kaley and I decided to take a train to Prague!  We travelled to one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen.  I loved Prague!  We met some incredible people in the hostel we stayed at and toured the best sights in the city.  We hiked the Petrin hills, from where we got some remarkable views of the city.  The buildings and rooftops in Prague are so beautiful-there are several different reds, oranges, and greens that go so beautifully together!  I definitely want to come back to Prague someday.  Maybe for another study abroad… :)

A huge part of my experience over here has been the people we have met and befriended.  It is such an amazing thing to all of a sudden have friends all over the world!  Peter in Canada, Jon in London, Scott in Louisiana, Katherine in Australia, Tommy and Sam in Florida, Jordi in Amsterdam, Abby in Chicago...it is amazing!  I am so excited to take some of these people up on their offers to visit them.  I am even thinking of planning a train trip to Canada in the fall...who knows!  Traveling has been so much fun and it has made me want to do even more...I am already thinking about other programs I can apply for while I am still in school.  I have been so inspired by this trip, the people I have met, the places I have visited, the cultural experiences I have been a part of.  That being said, I am very excited to return to the forest for my summer job and be back with my close friends and coworkers.  However, I miss Europe already!



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mjd246

 Today was our last official day of class.  We met in the morning to share, discuss and photograph our sketches.  It has been really neat to see what everyone has been inspired by in this city.  Everyone contributes something different to the group, which is inspiring in and of itself.  We are all brainstorming ideas for the mosaic that will be installed in the art building this fall and all of our ideas are fantastic!  If only we could find a way to incorporate all of our ideas.  Alas, the mosaic can only be four feet tall and eleven feet long…

Later on...we met up with Kenny and Chelsea, who led us to an outdoor market, which was filled with people, delicious food and heavenly beer on tap.  We all got a plate of authentic Viennese food, which was so darn good. Lauren and I got the cheese pasta, which I am glad I only ate once while I was in Vienna (I might be 20 pounds heavier otherwise!)  As a group, we played the card game, Phase 10, late into the night, which was a blast!  There was an opera playing in the background, which was very dramatic background music for our intense card game.  It was a great last night in Vienna!


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mjd246

Happy 150th birthday to Gustav Klimt!  Today, we visited the Beethoven Frieze, painted by Gustav Klimt.  It was incredible to get as close to the paintings as we did--they are so beautiful! I am amazed by how much gold leaf Klimt used in his paintings...it gives them a unique and beautiful quality.  After the frieze, we strolled through an amazing outdoor market where we salivated over the fresh food, said hello and thank you to market workers (in German) and bought so many beautiful scarves!  I got one for myself and one each for my close friends back home in Flagstaff.  

Later on...Lauren and I hung out at our apartment and talked late into the night-it was like “old times” but in Vienna!  Lauren and I know each other so well and we always have such a blast when we are together.  I am so thankful she came to visit!

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mjd246

Today we got a tour of the Vienna incineration plant, or the Spittelau, anoth structure in Vienna designed by Hundertwasser.  It was one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen!  The whole building and operation was pretty remarkable.  The most impressive part was how efficient the whole thing is-out of all the waste that goes into the waste plant, only ten percent of it comes out as waste and is safely stored in a salt mine outside of the city.  The rest of the waste gets converted to either water (that is cleaner than the water that comes into the plant!) or a sludge that is mixed with concrete and used for paving parts of the city.  I was so impressed by this!  We had another lovely tour guide who said he really did love working in the Spittelau and the beautifully designed building definitely made a difference in his attitude towards working at the city incineration plant.  How incredible!

Later in the evening, Kat and I met Lauren, my childhood friend who came over to Vienna to visit me. We took a stroll around her hotel and visited with one another for the rest of the evening.  It was so wonderful to see Lauren!  We are so excited to spend time together over the next few days :)

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mjd246

July 12th:  Today we met the group at the Hundertwasser museum, or the KunstHaus Wien.  We got a tour of the museum, which was wonderful!  Our tourguide was very knowledgable on both Hundertwasser’s work and life.  She told us interesting things about his paintings, such as Hundertwasser using recycled candy wrappers in his paintings, only painting on rainy days because the light was better for colors, painting “soul trees,” thinking of people and nature growing together, protecting your passion through what you chose to do, etc. It was something else to see Hundertwasser’s paintings as well as his early sketches.  He was an amazing artist-he would paint all the time in all sorts of places-waiting for a bus, sitting in a park, in his studio...he would often create a painting and pick an address at random from the phone book and send the painting to a complete stranger.  What an incredible way to share art! We learned that both Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt were major influences on Hundertwasser and his work.  One of my favorite quotes from Hundertwasser is, “We have to live in a beautiful world or else we will get sick.”  I love that. 
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mjd246

181355_3692921964733_506887157_nThis afternoon, we met Pam and Debra at their hotel for the pre-class meeting.  We ran over what places we will be going to, things we will be doing and homework assignments that are expected of us during our trip here in Vienna.  It was good to meet as a whole group-there are seven students in all-myself, Kat, Erin, Jessalyn, Kaley, Chelsea and Kenny.  After our meeting, Kat and I walked to the Belvedere Palace, where we saw a lot of Gustav Klimt’s paintings. It is an amazing thing to feel like you “own” a piece of artwork once you see it it--it was so exciting to see The Kiss!  Kat and I stared and stared at it until we got pushed out of the way by a film crew that was filming something for television for Klimt’s 150th birthday.  We laughed about that one for a little while.  Back at our apartment, Kat and I stitched a spiral pattern on a homemade pillow that we are going to give to Dr. Furst, (the Hundertwasser archivist) tomorrow when we meet her for the first time.  One side of the pillow had a Hundertwasser-inspired spiral and the other side had a hill with a tree on top of it.  


After touring the museum, Dr. Furst gave us a tour of Hundertwasser’s old apartment!  It was so neat.  It was a playful, bright and welcoming space-we all agreed that it felt like Hundertwasser’s space.  There were skylights everywhere, interesting mosaics in the bathroom and on the walls, indented handprints in the plaster on the walls, a fun loft, and one beautifully colored ceramic column that was centered in his kitchen.  It was an unexpected surprise to get to see where such an amazing artist lived and created so much of the work we have learned about.  It truly was an inspiring and magical place to visit. 

After the museum, Dr. Furst gave us a tour of the Hundertwasser House, which Kat and I have been excited to see since last fall.  It was amazing!  So beautiful, so fun and somewhere I would love to live!  Dr. Furst got access to the roof of one of the apartments, which consisted of a living rooftop-it was compeltely green with trees, plants, and grass growing all around.  It was beautiful.  The views of the city were also beautiful.  

After our tours, the girls and I went for a stroll around the corner and stumbled upon a fantastic thrift store!  We each got something and had a great time trying things on.  It was fun to go thrifting in Vienna :)


A bit of catching up...
mjd246
We have been so busy here in Vienna and the internet at our apartment has been a bit dodgy, so I have fallen behind in my updates, but here we go!  

July 9th:  I was supposed to meet Kat at our apartment this morning, but the poor girl had the most stressful day.  Her bag didn't make it to the baggage claim at the airport, so she spent a good amount of time sorting that out before she went looking for the apartment we are staying in during our class.  She walked (and rode the public transport) all over the city of Vienna!  She had the apartment info saved on a website that she could not retrieve because she could not get her wifi up and running....she went into pubs, restaurants, even the police station to seek out help in getting to the apartment and ended up getting a room in a fancy pants hotel at the end of the night when she gave up.  Poor Kat :/  

Since I could not get in touch with her all day, I decided to go back to the hostel and hang out with my Canadian and British friends (why hang out alone when there are friends right across the city?)  Peter, Scott and I went out for coffee, which was just so good.  I am going to miss Viennese coffee!  Later in the afternoon/evening, we all met up in the hostel courtyard and shared one more night sipping on beers, listening to music, and enjoying each other's company in the rain.  There has been soe great rain over here-even an awesome thunder storm a few nights ago...I love it!  It was sad to say goodbye to my new friends, but that is the way it goes when you are travelling...here, we just say "aufitezein" :) 

July 10th:  Kat and I had a great time last night!  We finally met up in her hotel (the fancy Mercure hotel) and had a blast sharing stories of our travels so far. It felt like an adult slumber party.  I am so happy to be with Kat!  We made our way to our apartment and met up with Jessalyn, Kaylie and Erin, the other girls sharing our "flat' :)  We got our things together and went out on the town.  On our stroll, we found the First American Bar, which was quite funny and made our way to a hip club called The Flex!  We visited with some locals who gave us all sorts of recommendations of things to do in the city, such as swimming at a nearby beach (!)  It was so good to meet people who weren't embarrassed by us...ha!  We had a great time and are planning on going back for a disco party on Saturday. We are about to head out for the day, so I will finish updating later. 

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mjd246
I am leaving Hostel Ruthensteiner this morning, which is bittersweet.  I have really enjoyed my stay here!  Yesterday, I had a relaxing day-it started with a granola and fruit breakfast with coffee and ended again, with a few Austrian beers.  Here, people drink on the street, in the park, on the tram etc.  It is wild!  I am still getting used to seeing people out in public with beers in their hands...I will miss the Ruthenstiener, though.  The atmosphere here is wonderful and the English-speaking staff are great.  If you ever make it to Austria-stay here!! Yesterday afternoon, I spent a while in the courtyard reading and drawing, which was so relaxing.  I also went to the MAT museum, which was beautiful.  After the museum, I enjoyed a delicious bratwurst and a Steigl at the Stadpark, which is really clean and bursting with life.  There are so many trees and plants here!

Last night, a hostel friend, Peter, and I went out for the cheapest pizza in town-we split the equivalent of a large pizza, had a glass of wine each and it was less than 10 Euros in all!  It was kind of funny to seek out pizza in Austria, but it was so tasty. We ordered a tomato, chicken and mushroom pizza and got...ham pizza.  The waiter must have figured we wouldn't have known the difference!  ha...it was still delicious though.  

I am about to get some breakfast, finish reading the Hundertwasser book, and then I am off to meet Kat at our apartment!

First full day in Vienna!
mjd246
I made it to Vienna yesterday around 4 p.m. and had a lovely stay in the cozy Hostel Ruthensteiner (The first and greatest backpackerś hostel).  I did a little bit of exploring yesterday afternoon and evening and managed to get quite turned around at one point when I took the wrong metro...public transportation in Vienna is certainly quite different from Flagstaff-you cant exactly take the bus all the way to the end and end up in down town.  You might end up very far from the city centre if you decide to keep riding the bus...as I discovered last night. This is a big city!  Thankfully, the transportation system is easy enough to figure out and Austrians and Germans have been pretty friendly for the most part.   I have found that it works best to say in a sweet voice, ¨I dont speak German¨ before asking a question.  Mostly, people will say, Oh no problem, and then carry on a conversation with me in English.  I feel especially stupid over here because I only speak one language.  It seems most everybody over here knows at least two languages.  I am having a great time so far, though.  I enjoyed some Austrian beers with some hostel friends last night and slept like a baby.  I also had some late night falafel, which was delicious.  So far, I feel pretty rested and am not experiencing any of the bad side effects of travelling across time zones (touch wood on that one!).  I am so excited for our class to start on Tuesday!  For now, I am looking forward to exploring more of the city and meeting Kat at our apartment in the morning!  She flies into Vienna early tomorrow morning and after checking into the flat we are staying in during our class, we are going to explore the city together.  I cant wait!

Side note:  the showers in the hostel turn off every 10 seconds, which I am so impressed by!  What an excellent way to conserve water--it really isnt necessary to run the water for 15 minutes straight because you only really need water to rinse off.  If the brilliant shower design is any indicator of Viennese innovation, the U.S. could learn so much from Europe!

As they say here, Cheers!

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