The month of May has provided me with a large range of emotions so far. I started off in a slightly darker place, where the anticipation of having to say goodbye to my little dog slowly set in. This was the hardest thing that I have had to experience since I arrived here in Austria. Saying goodbye to Mya through Facetime was devastating, as I longed to be at home with my family and have comfort from them and to give that support as well. As we let our little angel go, I mourned the loss from Austria and found strength in making it through this hard time. It helped me learn how to reach out to others. At home, I am so used to having people around me all the time, and having that automatic sympathy right away without ever having to ask for it. Since I don’t have that here, I reached out when I needed help and someone to talk to, and this resulted in a whole new mood for me. I found courage to reach out and find peace in the loss of my puppy. Going through tough times is part of the journey, and finding ways to move through these times is part of it as well.
This all led me through the rest of the week, as I found new days, fresh starts, and happiness that has carried through. The rest of that week was spent in downtown Wiener Neustadt for lunch one day, and in Vienna another to check out the Genuss Festival in the Stadtpark, and the Prater Amusement Park. The festival was amazing, and by that I’m talking about all the cheese, meat, and pesto samples I tried. It was refreshing to be around people sharing their passions with others. The amusement park was an experience as well, as I have been wanting to go there since I heard there was an amusement park in Vienna, which was two years ago as I researched the city. The view from the Ferris wheel and the swing that brings you up to overlook Vienna was breathtaking. We’re talking Instagram worthy views here. Vienna adventures also brought me to another sight I have been waiting to see since my pre-study abroad Instagram searches, The Austrian National Library. This 650-year-old library was so magical to see, from the art work on the walls to the history in between. It was worth the student discount price to walk through, that’s for sure.
The end of the week brought me the excursion that I have been waiting for, for quite some time now. This organized event through the school brought us to Salzburg and to the stunning town of Hallstatt. Salzburg stole my heart even more than the first time I had been there for the Salzburg Red Bull hockey game. This time a tour was included and as we made our way through the history of the city, the most interesting part for me was to see the exact location where Mozart lived, and where he was baptized in the Cathedral. Being a violinist growing up gave me an appreciation for this like no other. The rest of the day and into the night was spent bonding with all the exchange students. It was refreshing to see everyone come together, even if it was for one night, since we often travel in separate groups.
The next day in Hallstatt made any obstacle of this journey so worth it. The drive to Hallstatt built up the hype, especially the stop on the way to see the Mondsee Lake. Hallstatt was a place that I have been dreaming about since I searched it on Google maps. Seeing it in person provided me with a sight that I cannot even describe, and the city provides you with the whole Austrian feel. I honestly think a tear came to my eye as I took it all in. Something everyone needs to put on their bucket list, as it has become the number one most beautiful place I have ever seen.
The grand finale of these past couple weeks included a little getaway to Dubrovnik, Croatia. My friends and I had been talking about making a trip to Croatia since we arrived in Austria, and I can’t believe it is already a memory. I went with my roommate Sofi and our friend Helen. This blonde, brunette, and red head had the opportunity to stay at an Airbnb that is complimented by the whole picture perfect view of Dubrovnik. Our place had a cute little kitchen so we could cook some amazing meals for ourselves (while also saving some money), and getting in our daily ice cream intake. During our stay, we had one night out for drinks, three days on beaches accompanied by crystal blue water, a boat ride, time adventuring through the Old Town, and one restaurant dinner that ended the trip as we listened to a live music band outside a local restaurant. We did all this while certainly getting in plenty of steps with a very large elevation gain. Dubrovnik has no flat surface, so if anyone goes there, bring your running shoes, and possibly a knee brace. However, the walking all brings you to breathtaking views, so the walks are worth every step. What I love about Croatia is that you are always around natural beauty. Usually if you travel to a tropical destination, this brings you to a resort. Croatia is like a whole natural resort itself, where the water is so blue, the trees are so green, with everything in between. Sofi, Helen, and I truly bonded on this trip as well, and it’s starting to feel like we have known each other forever. Building my own study abroad family, and finding life-long sisters has been quite comforting. To celebrate this bond, we bought some friendship anklets with anchors on them. Something to remember this trip by, and the friends that I will for sure see again one day once my exchange semester comes to an end.
May has been a rollercoaster so far, with a low beginning and an end that has brought me the most amazing of experiences to store in my list of memories. Still so much ahead, including finally meeting my family in Italy! I have been waiting for this part of my journey my whole trip and it is finally here, I have no words for how excited I am! Just a couple days of class and I will be on my way.
P.S. Yes, I am still in school.