I’m In Vienna, Austria!

I know I only post Mondays but I thought I would post to let everyone know I am alive and surprisingly well. I also wanted to tell you some stories while they are still fresh in my memory.

Well, I am finally posting from Europe! I left the US Wednesday on an international flight from MSP to Amsterdam. On the plane I was seated next to a Bethel student named Benjamin. On the other side of me was a quiet Pakistani man, he was very polite but spoke very little overall.  On the other side of Benjamin was a man named Michael, he is a Christian businessman from Missouri, his family owns Green Earth Greenhouses.  Micheal was one of a kind, very talkative with stories to tell for days about his many travels. The flight we were on was going into Amsterdam and almost everyone on the flight had a connecting flight to some other part of Europe (Mine was to Vienna) Michael’s destination was Norway, he was flying there for a wedding that he was the officiant for! The couple asked him to be their officiant because the three of them had met on an airplane! The woman, Russian, the man, Norwegian met on a flight while sitting next to Micheal and the three of them talked their whole flight. The two fell in love and are now getting married! I found that to be such a cool unique story.

So with an 8 hour plane ride ahead of me with Micheal and Benjamin, it became very real that when I stepped off that plane, I would be in Europe. At this point, I thought the hardest part was over because I had said goodbye to my parents; I was wrong. I’ve already been hit with the realization that this is not going to be easy. My first flight was the easiest so far because I was occupied by conversations with Micheal and Benjamin, we talked most of the way about church denominations, music, personal testimonies, etc. which kept my mind at ease. I also found some time to sleep and write in my journal which was cathartic to say the least. The real trouble began when we arrived in Amsterdam. Imagine this, your 8 hour flight is supposed to reach its destination at 10:30am, its an hour late, your connecting flight boarding time is at 11:10, plane leaves at 11:40, still have to go through security. So to put it frankly, my group was freaking out and you could clearly witness that because we were all sprinting through the Amsterdam airport to get to security. When we arrived at security I was the last to go through. They instructed me to remove every electronic I had with me. So of course, I pulled out my iPad, iPhone, iPod, Computer, chargers for all of the aforementioned, and my Nikon D5100. Then I had to extract the liquids from my bag which happened to all be together in a ziplock, but of course my camelbak was clipped to my backpack full of water. When one of the Dutch security men saw it, he said he had to take it and empty it but told me where I could refill it, him and I had some witty conversation while I gathered my things back together though, I enjoyed that. Then it was time for me to go through the metal detector machine, of course I set it off somehow. It happened to be the metal buckles on my shoes…(who knew? ha metal sets off a metal detector, weird…… ) at this security checkpoint they didn’t make us take our shoes off but of course then I had to, lucky me. So with that said, basically all of my stuff is all over in security trays at this point and I only see one other person from my group of 25 and I’m a little panicked.
I try to quickly gather all of my things, I don’t even tie my shoes and the other girl from my group and I just start sprinting again. So now I’m sprinting through the Amsterdam airport with my shoes untied and my bags hanging on me. I looked ridiculous and I felt it as well. Finally, we see our gate and Peggy, our professor and two flight attendants waving us to run faster… Luckily we made the flight but as soon as I got on the plane everyone on the flight knew it was Laura and I who held up the sealing of the plane and so they all smiled and laughed which was embarrassing and awkward. A Dutch teenager on the plane said something to me and winked as I was making my way to my seat, no idea what he said to me, chances are I  never will. Once situated on my new plane, I was in a window seat with no one next to me and a man seated on the aisle seat. He was polite but really only spoke Dutch, he read the whole flight which was fine because I was trying to figure out if any of this was real…
When we arrived in Vienna, we took trains, to trams, to subways, all sorts of public transportation systems with our luggage to get to the hotel. That was exhausting to say the least, finally we reached the Hotel Donauwalzer. We received our rooms, I share with Alyssa and Brittany. Then they gave us our key, there’s a picture below but you only get one and you have to give it to the front desk every time you leave the hotel. It’s kinda cool.

My key:

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The view from one of our windows:
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My lovely roommates and I at MSP airport:
Our first night here was Thursday and we went to dinner as a group. I decided I wasn’t super hungry so I ordered a ham salad… This is what they served me below. It’s ham alright but really it’s cream-like cheese wrapped in bacon. It was probably the best salad I have ever had though.
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Also here are some random shots I took of the city Thursday night:
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Too bad I’ll be in a different country when these shows are…
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Found this church while walking… Look who it is on the relief above the portal.. St. Francis of Assisi. Told ya’ll he would be all over in my other post.
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Naturally… We took some “candid” photos in front of the church which is the Parish of Breitenfeld.
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Do we look European yet?
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So, I’ve had a few moments where I’ve been overwhelmed by all the differences around me. Menial tasks can be very frustrating because completing them becomes difficult, things you have known how to do your whole life are now done differently and you’re learning all over. This frustration definitely begs for tears but I am too blessed to cry anymore or view this trip as anything than what it is; a once in a lifetime opportunity to grow and explore not only Europe but my abilities and limitations as a human. I plan to dispel most of the limitations of my own thinking, my personal growth and life throughout and beyond this trip. I truly believe that if you let limitations run your life, you’ll never accomplish anything that takes true hard work. Pushing yourself beyond your limitations is the most beautifully human thing there is, to do things you didn’t know you were capable of are the most satisfying in the end. This trip is all about self discovery and self betterment and I am dedicated to that.
Today which is Friday, it is already 6:45pm and at home in Minnesota it is 11:45am… So this time difference definitely sucks but for lunch today my roommates and I went to a market and bought some bread, cheese and yogurts and of course some Nutella… which comes in glass jars here instead of plastic and yes, it does taste better here. I also bought a bottle of water which happened to be bubbly water because that is really popular here, they call it “gas” water… Never doing that again, did not enjoy that.  I probably should have attempted to read the German label which read “mild”… How can water be mild? I don’t know, I don’t speak German yet so I’m a lost puppy.
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Overall though, I received a stamp on my passport in Amsterdam, a possible sprained ankle from the untied shoes and some stories. Along with that I’ve received an awesome meal, a night of wandering the city and a few winks from some European men and a crash course on how to ride the tram. I can’t complain, I’m in Europe y’all. Missing you all at home more than you know! I’ll post again soon, most likely Monday as usual but quite possibly later… They might be more sporadic posts due to my busy schedule. For the next three weeks I will be in Vienna at the University in my own dorm! I’m sure I’ll have even more to say then and a solid amount of time to blog. Until my next post! I wish you well.

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