Taking Vienna by Storm
Amber Harchuk - Vienna, Austria
Vienna was beyond words. To be honest, I never
thought that I would even go abroad. It was always a dream, but not something
that I thought I could ever achieve. And then there I was, on a Lufthansa
plane, leaving the country for the first time in my life, not speaking a word
of German and more excited than I could have ever thought possible.
While abroad I got the chance to learn German, Music,
Cross-cultural Communications, European Cities, and Psychology. The United Nations,
Parliament Tours, and class trips to famous capitals were also on the
agenda. The environment and traveling
were quite the learning experience in themselves. Each weekend we were off to
another country and learning about an entirely different culture. I got to see Operas and Orchestra concerts and attend a true Viennese Ball. Even now I have a hard time comprehending how
the culture is so carefully preserved, practiced, and varied throughout each
country and city.
There is one time that I
will never forget and I remember every detail so clearly. The first day I arrived in Wien I was beyond
excited. We were staying at a hotel in the 8th district. When I
first arrived I was overwhelmed, excited, and jet legged. I walked into the
lobby of the hotel with all my bags and instantly someone called my name. I
looked up to the smiling face of Fredna, who I later learned was the American
exchange teacher. Along with her, a
couple of the students in my program were there. They were going to walk around
and asked if I wanted to join. I said that I would love to; however I needed a
couple minutes to gather myself and breathe.
They understood and headed off.
I lugged my luggage to my hotel room and meant
to lie down for a moment. Next thing I knew, it was one hour later and someone
was trying desperately to unlock the hotel door. I opened it and saw the
hopeful face of Chenin. She was sharing the hotel room with me. We immediately
began chatting and she informed me that she already spent a couple weeks seeing
different parts of Europe. I was
insanely jealous and couldn’t wait for my own adventures. We left immediately with the great intention of
taking Europe by storm. Knowing that we
had two hours, and we were in a foreign country, we played it safe. Chenin and
I agreed to take pictures of signs so we could remember our way back. It seemed like a great plan. However, the excursion was not exactly successful. We took pictures of teh "Einbahn" sign, then the "Austria's Next Top Model" signs. Later we realized that maybe taking pictures of the street signs with street names would have been a much better plan. But off we went, and assumed that we would remember where we were turning!
The buildings were incredible! So big, rich, and
exactly like I saw in pictures. Although each building came with distinct
character, after a while to the untrained eye, they all started to look the same. It
started to rain and Chenin realized that it was about one hour from the time
that we needed to be back. We thought that now would be a good time to start to
make our journey back to our hotel. Well, we were lost.
Luckily Chenin knew a few words in German, and I had
the address of the hotel on me. So she walked around asking “Wo ist (where is)”
and pointing to the address on the paper. A man in the bakery
laughed and introduced himself. He spoke English! He pulled out his iPhone and google-mapped how we should get back to the hotel.
He was very kind and was so interested to learn that we were from America and
this was our first day in the beautiful city of Vienna. He offered to walk with us until we were two streets away. The entire time we talked about his life in Wien and
all the lovely sights that we needed to see. We said goodbye to the stranger
who got us back and laughed the entire way back to the hotel. We walked in, soaked,
nearly late, and smiling; proud that our first adventure was quickly leading us
into a great friendship and best of all, a wonderful trip.