Sunday, March 29, 2009

Take the good with the bad

So to begin, I would like to apologies for taking so long to update my blog. I know it has been about 2 weeks....but nothing really was worth writing about. My mom has been bugging me about my classes, so i guess I can use this space to describe what it is like to go to University in Europe. The best way to start off is to tell you that it is way different! Technically, you never have to go to class. If you want a grade for a class, all you have to do is show up to the final. There are hardly any classes where mandatory attendance exist, there is no homework and there are no text books. That is unless you are taking Managerial Economics, Global Networking, Policies of the European Union, or National and International Food Safety Authorities. So basically 4 of my 9 classes are not standard European classes and I get the privilege of doing homework while everyone else goes out. ok..its not that bad...but I do have alot of homework. For my National and International Food Safety seminar, we met twice- on Thursday and Friday from 8:30AM to 2:30PM. We meet again at the very end of June to present our home countries food safety policies. So basically I have to present an hour power point presentation over the USDA and FDA. Woo this will be fun! My managerial economic class is kinda a pain too. I am the only international student in the class and the professor wanted to make it a german class but since i was in the class, he had to keep it in English. Need less to say, I think he has a grudge on me. I always get called on to do the hard problems on the board (I never know the answer too) and he just isnt nice to me. We always have so much homework in that class. Its like taking Mico and Macro Economics, Financial Planning, Customer Relationship Management and Theories of Business Strategies all in one! That exam is going to be hard. My Global Networking class is by far my favorite class! We do video conferences with schools in the USA, Italy, France and Japan. Our class itself, is comprised of all different nationalities. There are French guys, Austrian guys and girls, Americans, a Russian, and a girl from French Gui....something that i cant remember. During class we truly get a global perspective on how different countries do things. One of our "homework" assignments was to go to the Naschtmarkt (basically a huge farmers market) and buy ingredients to make a international dinner. I made overnight salad (7 layer salad) which was a huge hit! There were other things such as Austrian soup and apple studdle (sp), Thia Curry, French Cheese (yuck). The day started at around noon and I did not get home till around 8PM that night! I dont really remember what all i did last weekend or this past week. I did kind freak out and threaten to pack up and come home. My computer is slightly gaining a mind of its own. The screen doesn't work sometimes so I spent the better half of the week borrowing my roommates computer, taking mine in to the IT department at BOKU (my school) and have them run diagnostics on it and having Dell do the same. After about 4 "professional opinions" we concluded that there is wire loose somewhere from my hard drive to the screen - the part that makes it light up. There is a man at my church here, Jim, who works for the US Embassy as their computer tech guy and he is going to run my problem by some of the guys there to see about getting sometime to fix my computer. In the mean time, Debbie and Jim are going to see if i can borrow a monitor from their school so i can have something reliable here to work on! Thank God for all the amazing connections He has placed around me here! I just dont know what I would do with out them! Yesterday was the first beautiful day of spring that Vienna has seen! I was able to meet up with Mike and my roommate Milica to climb 343 stairs to the top of St. Stephan's Cathedral! The air was so clean and you could see for miles! Its hard to determine how large of a city Vienna really is until you can see it from a birds view!
This week is my last week of classes for awhile. In Europe, students get 3 week during the month of April off. During this time, I will try to get to Rome and Prague and maybe some small cities with in Austria. I would like to travel some more, but unfortuantly, I have a 5 page paper to write at some point. :(
Until next time...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Short and Sweet about 1AM right now and I cant sleep. This is not due to misfortune or bad feelings, but to an overflow of joy! I just want everyone to know what an incredible week I have had! This post is going to be very short - so bare with me and I will write more later.
First, my package from Casey came on Wednesday! It was filled with all kinds of American food: Oreos, Mac and Cheese, hot chocolate, rice crispies, pop tarts, chocolate, pencils, post its and PURDUE decorations!
Then, the next day, my roommate's friend George, shared with me the last 4 episodes of LOST!!!! needless to say, there was no going out or doing homework that night! I was glued in front of my computer for hours!!!Then it was the weekend...see, I dont have classes on FRIDAY!!!! I slept most of the day due to my late night viewings of Lost. I got up around 2 and then sat and worked on hw for the rest of the day. Around 6, I met up with christine and Amanda at InterSpar! I bought the cutest pair of heels for 10EUR! Then we finished grocery shopping and got the fixins for some tacos! I will have to say that it was the best tacos I have had in a very long time! We also bought chips and salsa to top it off! That night, we met up with some other Americans and headed out to the Erasmus party. Erasmus is what europeans are called if they study abroad. It would be the equivilant of being called an out of state student in America, except obviously they are in a totally different country.On the way to this party, we got lost! We walked around Vienna for about an hour before we gave up and found a taxi to take us the rest of the way --> turned out to be about 3 blocks away :/ During the wanderin, we came across one of those penny machines that you ride at the supermarket! I had to get a pic!!!! We had a good time and danced the night away! Sunday morning, I woke up early and met up with Debbie and Jim and visited their church. It was alot different than Indian Creek but I think I will like it. As far as differnces go - its night and day. Going from a church of thousands to a church of 20 and drums and guitars to a piano and hymnal, I'm in for another cultural shock. Hopefully this time, there wont be tears and desperate pleas to come home :D. Later that day I met up with some Austrian friends for a tradional Austrian Sunday meal. For 10EUR I got what is on the plate below, an authentic Stiegl beer and live entertainment. Aside from the sourkrout, it was delicious!!! The rest of the day we walked around the rainy Vienna. Of course, I made it home to watch the 8:30 (3:30 USA eastern time) tip off of the PURDUE BOILERMAKERS!!!!! I watched it via Skype :D They are now the Big Ten Champs!!! (just in case you didnt know) And when that was over I streamed the live selection show. How amazing is it that 7 Big Ten teams (and Butler) made it to the dance this year???
That was the basic highlights of my week! Now, I'm off to bed to dream of March Madness and PURDUE BASKETBALL! BOILER UP!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


As most of you know, I made my first excursion out of the country this past weekend. Place of destination: Budapest! Friday morning around 8:30 AM Mike, Serena, Melissa, Alycia, Tansy and myself left from the Westbahnhof train station. The train ride was approximately 3 hours-not too bad. We ate nutella and sticks as well as some kiwi that we had to peel by hand. The conversation was great, we could all tell this was going to be a great trip!
I would consider myself a very concious person. I try to keep my eye open to my surroundings as not to lose something or allow pickpocketors to creep up on me. However, during this specific train ride I lost it. The first time the conductor came around to check tickets, I couldnt find mine. I tore through my bad, freaking out that i was going to get kicked off the train somewhere out in the hungarian country side. After about 10 min of searching through my things, I found it in my me! Then, when we were getting off the train in Budapest, I couldnt find my Austrian worries though...i did find it right before the train was about to leave lol.
So after the train, the ticket booth went crazy on us! For real! It wouldnt take our money and kept spitting it back out...I swear, we sat there for about 45 min trying to buy our transportation tickets. We even tried asking the attendant at the booth to help and all she could say was 'a;hgiag;agha ;gjao'....that is Hungarian for "I dont speak English" It is the wierdest language i have experienced while in europe!
After another hour, we found ourself at Riverside Hostel! It was definatly different than what I had pictured a hostel to be like. I mean, I did see the movie "Hostel" and I was sorta scarred of going and staying in a bed where thousands of people sleep on an average year. The staff there was extreamly welcoming and helpful for us. They gave us directions to everything that we asked and recomended their favorite spots for us.
On friday, we just decided to get some traditional Hungarian food and walk around for a bit. So we went to this cafateria style restuarant. Most of us decided on the goulash and rice. Now, let me help you picture what this was like. know what that is, white, small, no flavor - rice. now picture a worm, you know the kind that come out after a good rain. take about 50 of those put them on that plate of rice and add some dark brown sauce...that is what our meal looked like. and imagine the texture. Chewy and squirmy. mmmmmm mmmm mm...hungarian food is GROSS!!! lol
After our "meal" we decided to walk down the street and see St. Stephen's Basilica.
It was beautiful! It defiantly was an old European church. The attention to detail on the inside was so impressive!!! The colors, and statues, and stained glass windows and candles and just every other amazing detail. I kinda wandered around alone to take in the full environment. After walking around in the main room where church is held, I found myself in this really old chapel. As it turns out, this chapel was the part of the church that was built before the building that we know as the Basilica existed.
As I was walking around the chapel, a light turned on in a corner and I saw a dead hand! It was sooo gross...apparently, it's the sacred right hand of St. Stephen. Apparently, after St. Stephen died, his hand fell off and mummified itself and someone found it. Now the Catholics have a sacred gross

After the basilica, we took a walk down the Danube River. Along the way, we walked by then across the Chain Bridge. It was the original bridge build to connect "Buda" and "Pest". Before the bridge, people could only cross during the winter when the river was frozen over.

The next day, Saturday, we decided to take a "free" tour of the city. Have you ever heard the saying "There is no such thing as a free lunch"? Well...there is no such thing as a free tour...we not only had to tip him, but during the 3+ hour tour, we got to hear all about Communism in Hungry and stand in gale force winds. Oh it was soo fun!!!...finally after about 3 hours, we decided to go off and create our own tour. So, led by Melissa, we made our way to the sand castle. Its acutally called the Fisherman's something...but i think it looks like the sand castles you make with wet sand when you drizzle the sand on it!!!!
That was pretty much all we did on Saturday. Trying to fight the wind and walking around a city for hours makes travelers extra sleepy! We decided to stay in on our last night in Budapest. That night was the ultimate bonding night! All the girls just sat and gossiped with each other and told about our lives back home and our families. Its really interesting how similar we all are and how close we are. I feel like I have made life long friends here and I wouldnt have traded this weekend for anything!
The next day, was our last day. We decided to take a tour of the "House of Terror" It was a museum that showed the ugly part of Hungarian history when the Nazis and Communist tortured and imprisoned citizens for their religion, skin and hair color and other things....The kinds of things portrayed in this museum are not the kinds of things that you learn about in history class...they are way worse...if you would like to learn more about it here are some links for you to check out:
The Website for the House of Terror
After the house of Terror, it was time to head home...well back to Vienna. The 3 hour train ride seemed like it would never end! We were all so anxious to get home, unpack and SHOWER!!! lol :D