Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"Home is behind you, the World is ahead"

Greetings from Austria!

It’s been a whirlwind couple days since I left the states.  I’ll give you a short little recap of the first couple days! (fair warning: that “short little recap” could get longer once I get into the Austria stuff :P )

So I left my house on Saturday morning at 10:10, got to the airport around 11, I checked in, went through security, found my gate, got on, and flew away to Chicago!  That airport is huge!  I took a train to the international terminal… that was an adventure.  See, I brought 2 suitcases, and one was extremely heavy while the other kept tipping over :P  I had to finagle them on and off of 3 elevators because I first had to go upstairs, then I saw a sign telling me to go “that way” which led me to another elevator which ended up taking me down instead of up, so I went up the escalator, but then was told to go up again so I took the elevator again.  Goodness.  Thankfully, a kind pilot held the elevator door for me so I didn’t do a “Paris repeat” (that’s a story for another day)…

I finally made it to the Aer Lingus counter at 1:15 only to find that it didn’t open until 3:45.  I hadn’t eaten, but I couldn’t bring my bags with me to find food so I just sat and read a guidebook. :D  Another woman waiting for the Poland counter tried to speak to me, but she just spoke Polish.  It was literally a real-life version of a verse of the Veggie Tales song (“But when he tried to speak to me he just spoke Polish and I only know like 3 words in Polish but now I know 4 ‘cause Oscar taught me the word for lip: Ousta!” I couldn’t very well just say “Ousta” to this poor distressed woman.)

Anywho, I met up with Stasia and Grace and another Allison, and then we also met a girl who is studying with us for the semester, but she’s not from Franciscan.  She is super nice!!  The Aer Lingus people were also really helpful and gave Stasia, Grace, Allison and I seats together.  

The flight itself was uneventful… yeah.

We arrived in Dublin, found our gate, and met up with about 50 other Franciscan students.  That flight was also fairly uneventful, thank goodness!  After waiting for our bags and then waiting about a half hour for the bus, we were on the way to Gaming!

I’m guessing that about 85% of the people on the bus slept on the 2-hour trip, and I was definitely one of them!  I’d been awake for 28 hours at that point (not counting the ~2 hours of sleep on the planes; if you can hear what’s going on, you’re not really asleep!)  Sunday night consisted of dinner, starting to put things away, Mass at the Kartause chapel, and sleep!!

Monday morning we were up at 7:15 in order to eat breakfast and get to the bus by 8:30, and we were on the way to the Melk Monastery!  It is one of the oldest Monasteries in Europe, and it was incredibly beautiful! (this post is already getting kinda long, so I’ll post pictures in another blog.)  We also had Mass there, then lunch at a local little hotel, and we took the buses back to school.  That evening we had a little talk and got our “emergency phones”.

Tuesday was essentially a day of orientation.  We had talks on different aspects of life here- ministries, mission trips, travels with the university throughout the semester, and alcohol.  Yes, we’re all legal here… so we’ve gotten a significant number of warnings about excessive consumption of alcohol.  Makes total sense, in my opinion, but it does get tedious.  We received a tour of the Kartause in the afternoon- this is such a cool place!!!!  I’ll have to give more details about it later.

Wednesday (today) we had yet another orientation meeting, received textbooks, and then had a tour of the town on the way to Mass in the afternoon!

It’s so surreal to be here, and Grace and I keep saying to ourselves, “Are we really here?  We live here!”  It’s an amazing area!  To wake up and see an old Carthusian monastery and the mountains right outside my window is beautiful.  

So even though I’ve left my home in the states behind, I think I will easily be able to call this place my new home for the semester.  I have the entire world ahead of me (or the whole of Europe, at the very least).

Let’s get this started.

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