Turning 21 at Midnight at Bendl Bar Vienna

A few months ago during the Fall semester, I remember sitting anxiously at Starbucks in Gainesville as Stephanie Mason sat with me patiently and answered all of my burning questions about studying abroad in Vienna.  I was torn between going to Vienna early enough for the OK Program or just waiting it out till after I turned 21 to show up right when classes started.  For some silly reason, I wanted to be in America to celebrate turning 21.  Since in Austria, when someone turns 16, they can legally drink beer and wine.  At age 18, they are permitted to drink hard liquor and I didn’t know if it would feel special or as exciting as it would be in America since we cannot legally have a drink till age 21.  However, Stephanie beamed as she talked about the OK Program and how many friendships were established right from the get go.  Why was I so interested in staying in Gainesville two weeks longer just to celebrate turning another year older and missing out on pushing myself to expand my friendship circle while traveling all over the place?  The answer became apparent: do the OK Program, leave Florida on January 31st and arrive in Vienna on February 1st.  And, you know what?  I cannot tell you how happy I am with my decision to take the plunge and arrive earlier-it has been the BEST thing I could have ever ventured to do.  Ever since I have arrived, I have formed strong friendships with great people from all over the world, seen some amazing places and even met someone that makes my heart beat just a little faster than I’ve ever felt before.  And on to the birthday celebration story…

After making an outstanding dinner with Amanda, Curtis, Geoff and Hanif, we decided to go out to the famous ice skating place right in front of City Hall to meet up with a bunch of our friends.  Since the five of us did not want to go skating, we went inside the tavern to have a cup of Glutwein (hot, sweet wine popular in Austria’s winter).  After finishing our glutwein, we met up with the rest of the crew to go celebrate my birthday before midnight. I had no idea where we were going, I just followed my wolf pack all the way to Bendl Bar, which was not far at all from the ice skating rink.  While enjoying conversation and more glutwein, I was so amazed that I had 12 wonderful friends sitting all around me that I had known less than two weeks and already felt like I had known them much longer.  I looked across the room and I noticed that there was a jukebox so I decided to get up and look at the songs.  After perusing every song for about ten minutes, I noticed someone reaching across to put a Euro in the jukebox to play a song.  I looked up and said to him, “Excuse me, but I have not picked a song yet.”  He sarcastically responds, “You know you have to put money in the jukebox in order for it to play a song or else it won’t work.”  Flustered, I remarked that it was my birthday in an hour and I should be able to listen to whatever I want.  Since I had two songs in mind, I was thinking that maybe he would play one of them because of how classic they were.  Low and behold, Phil picked “Tainted Love” which was one of my choices that I wanted anyway.  Then he let me pick the next song of which I selected “Betty Davis Eyes.”  For some unexplainable reason, we talked all the way up until midnight when my friends started chanting “Happy Birthday.”  I invited Phil to my 21st birthday celebration that was the following night, exchanged phone numbers then joined my friends to catch the UBahn home.  It was just the beginning of something unexpected and wonderful all at the same time; stay tuned for my 21st celebratory in my next post 😉

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