I have been in Innsbruck for 4 days now, which is hard for me to believe. The moment I stepped off the bus, I fell in love with this city even more than I already did, and my love for it continues to grow. The city is nestled in between several mountains, which rise up and almost seem to protect the city. The buildings are so beautiful and intricate and very well preserved.
After arriving in the city, everyone in the program went straight to the student dorms we are staying in, which are small but really nice.
The first day was long and exhausting, but instead of succumbing to my fatigue I decided to hit the streets. My first stop was the famous Golden Roof, which was built by Emperor Maximilian at the end of the 15th century in honor of his second wife. The roof structure served as a balcony for him to observe the festivities that took place below.
I finished my tour by walking along Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse, which runs perpendicular to the Golden Roof and contains some of the most beautiful traditional and historical buildings in the city. The buildings are so charming and unlike anything in the United States. I don’t think I have ever felt such happiness as when I was walking through the city, and even though I was finally there, it still didn’t feel like it could possibly be real.
After orientation, all of the students in the program were given a buffet dinner, complete with traditional food, but although I hate to admit it, I opted for pasta. I just can’t stay away from my favorite food, no matter where I am. During dinner I met a few students that were ambassadors to the program, and they had each been assigned an Austrian “buddy” to show them around. I joined the group on an exclusive tour that the Austrians, Karen and Julianna, gave, and they pointed out important sights and the best places to get authentic Austrian food and tasty gelato. They were both so incredibly friendly, and I could tell they enjoyed showing us around their city. As an almost perfect end to this long day, we all went to a public viewing area to watch the U.S. vs Belgium soccer game. The area was set up outside under the stars, and the mountains rose up around us and surrounded us. Even though the U.S. lost, it was such a great feeling being there with other Americans and Austrians, and the atmosphere was incredible.
Classes started the next day following a short city tour. For the past few days I’ve spent my time exploring the city, learning about the culture, and reading fairytales for my fairytales class, which really can’t be considered homework. As you can see below, the view outside of my classroom is so beautiful that it’s hard to pay attention to what my professor is saying.
I went to dinner at a pizza place called Magic Pizza with a couple of girls I have become friends with. Although I ordered just one slice, the portion was enormous! I’ve already learned that although food is often served in large portions here, the food is so much fresher and healthier, so it’s harder to gain weight.
I have also learned that Austrians LOVE to recycle. They believe we have an obligation to preserve our planet, and they all strive to do their part. There are recycling bins all over the city, and it’s actually a law that the citizens must recycle. They often encourage it by reimbursing you small amounts if you return plastic cups or containers. At one restaurant we went to, we were reimbursed 2€ for a 5€ drink when we returned the cups. Although this sounds strange, they offer 1€ hot coffee from a vending machine, and if you insert the plastic cup when you are done, you get 10 cents back. Not a bad system. I wish we were this passionate about the environment in America.
Last night we had the opening ceremony for our program, which was held at a really fancy venue. Outside the building, members of an Austrian marching band were dressed in traditional clothing and played traditional Austrian music. We were served popular Austrian food, which I actually ate this time. The menu consisted of some kind of spinach noodle salad stuff, schnitzel, coleslaw, baked pasta, potatoes and chocolate cake deliciousness.
I spent my 4th of July watching the Brazil vs. Columbia soccer game with a bunch of Austrians at a public viewing area. After a lot of deliberation I decided I would spend the weekend in Innsbruck instead of traveling elsewhere because there is still so much for me to see.