"Down here at Cape Spartel is the celebrated cave of Hercules, where the hero took refuge when he was vanquished and driven out of the Tangier country. It is full of inscriptions in the dead languages, which fact makes me think Hercules could not have traveled much, else he would not have kept a journal."

-"The Innocents Abroad," Mark Twain

Monday, September 26, 2011

My German may be bad, my English slowly becoming cringe-worthy, but my Italian is much, much worse.

And why might that be relevant? A valid question deserves an answer - I'm heading to Italy in a month! (more or less) My class has studied Italian for four years and will be going on a mini exchange for a week in October. Sadly, I have not had this advantage, but am doing my best to try to make up for it. There was not a way I could take beginning Italian at school, so I have begun to (try) to learn it with the help of the internet. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to it!

I have now been switched into lower-level German classes so that I may learn German grammar. However, this does mean younger; so far, I have been in a class of 10 year olds. They are all really sweet and I am actually glad to be with them, as they will be more understanding when I make mistakes or ask questions. Today, my teacher had me stand and let them ask me questions, in German, of course. (They have not had English for long.) I got asked all kinds of questions - do I like it here (yes), where is Maryland (we looked in an atlas), have I been to New York (once), have I been to the castle in the city (not yet), do I know who Justin Bieber is (yes), do I like him (no), what is my favorite color (I don't have one), who is my favorite actor/actress..... it was funny to see their reactions and gave me a chance to get to know their personalities a bit!

Friday night I went into the city to meet up with some of my classmates to go to Roberts Kirtag, a festival for the Catholic patron. It was similar to a carnival here - just with better food, everyone was dressed in the traditional Austrian clothing, and there was a hall where large amounts of alcohol were consumed by the visitors. On Sunday, we pressed more apple juice (90 1-liter bottles!) and went to an art festival in a neighboring town. Very relaxing weekend overall! I hope yours was just as enjoyable.

<3 from mary beth

P.S. I have reached the point where I feel a bit odd taking pictures everywhere I go, but just so you know:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cue the Dramatic Music

Or not. It's unnecessary. School has begun! I went away for the weekend! Came back! Have returned to school! Yup, that pretty much sums up what I have been doing lately.

I hope you are enjoying, well, I really do not know what the weather back in the States is right now, so you will just have to enjoy it for me. Because I can guarantee that you are currently warmer than I am. Yesterday, I returned home from school, went about my daily whatever-it-is I do after school, and was shown that it was snowing in the mountains. Yes, I looked outside and could see SNOW! Crazy, huh? And it's only September!
*Please note that this was from afar and was not actually in the valley.

In school, I am in the 7th grade, where the students are actually a year older than I am. We remain in the same classroom unless going to a lab for science or to the gym and the teachers come to us. Between classes, we have 10 minute breaks. Because the length of each day varies, there is no lunch scheduled in. There is, however, a cafe on the the first level. And the whole city of Salzburg. If your day is longer, there is an hour or two long "Pause," during which you can eat. I travel about an hour each way to get to school; my father drives me and my host sister in the morning and we take the bus in the afternoon. For gym class, they separate the guys & dolls into different areas of the gym, which I found interesting (and I have to say, better).  Everyone here is very sweet and quite willing to answer questions! 

This past weekend, I met up with the other exchange students of Austria, including the ones from Australia and New Zealand who have been here for a half-year already. We went hiking (which was actually more like rock climbing) and stayed in the most adorable rooms in a bed & breakfast! (Actually, it was amazing that they fit all 85 or so of us in one place.)

I am sure I will think of something later that I meant to write, but for now, a few more pictures:

The Salzach River in Salzburg

Just to give you a little bit of a scale - there are people in this photo. 

We were all at dinner and I saw this out of the window!

Go eat a bag of candy corn!
(Thanks, Mom!)
-Mary Beth

Sunday, September 11, 2011

One Month!

As of yesterday, I have been in Austria for one month! So, I have written up a list of a few things I have learned here so far:

1. It doesn't matter how you are to begin with - stupidity and your level of exhaustion grow together.
2. If you try, people will smile. And possibly laugh.
3. MUSHROOMS and CHOCOLATE ARE GOOD. But I cannot comment on the combination.
4. Speaking of chocolate - if you ever are in Salzburg, make sure to bring a few extra Euros for chocolate. And by I few, I don't mean 3.
5. Cliches are funny and somewhat realistic. Movies, however, are funny and should remain entertainment.
6. HAHA - you though Narnia was cool!
7. McDonald's belongs in someone else's fairy tale.
8. Meat and wurst are not the same thing.
9. Turn the knob the OTHER way -  or just stand behind the sink.
10. I would give anything for a fresh slice of  D'lorenzo's.

Enjoy the cool weather!

<3 from Mary Beth

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Currently Without Name

This will be quick - just wanted to say that I have a new resident in my window sill! She (since plants are feminine in German) was purchased today when we went into IKEA. Yes, in case you're wondering, they are the same in Austria as they are in the US, with tags in German, of course. (Forgive me for a moment while I show my age - IT WAS SO COOL!) Anyway, back to the point - I now have a water plant of some sort that is currently nameless. My sister asked me if she had a name (the plant, that is), and I said no. However, I upon further consideration I decided that it would be rather fitting. If you have any ideas, let me know!

<3 Mary Beth

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Enjoying Earth's Offerings

My busy-relaxing weekend has gone pretty well - I hope you can say the same! Yesterday, my host mom, sister, and grandmother took apples from the trees in the two yards to be pressed and made into apple juice. It did not take too long, but was interesting to watch. They were cored (is that a word?) and chopped up by a machine before being pressed. After some process that occurred in a series of tubes, the hot juice filled a total of 34 bottles! 

In the afternoon, we went sailing and canoeing on Wolfgangsee. 

We quickly returned home and went to an evening church service at the Catholic church. It was beautiful, and despite the formalities, there were several similarities. I am glad to have gone, even if I was unable to follow half of what went on!
Today, we went hiking and out to lunch at one of the several "mountain huts" (cabins) that serve as restaurants.  Afterwards, I spent the afternoon reading and did something terrible - I fell asleep with my contacts in. But have no fear! They are not glued to my brain. Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend!

<3 from Mary Beth