If I recall correctly (and my computer has a much better memory than I do), I had just wrapped up with Thanksgiving. This past week, the Italian students that we visited came to stay with us here in Austria! Of course, since I am already staying with a host family, I did not have someone actually staying with me. I was, however, able to do some things with them! Most notably, on Wednesday, we took the train for about an hour into the city of Linz, which is on the Danube (Donau) River. It was quite foggy! We arrived mid-morning, and were split into three groups, as there were about fifty of us together. My group first went on a brief tour of the cathedral there, which I did not take a picture of because, if I am to be honest, all of the embellished churches are beginning to seem the same. This one, however, did have an interesting story to go alone with it. There was a man (a very religious man) who shut himself in the church and refused to leave. He resided alone in the tower and stayed there for who-knows-how-long. Today, it is still possible for you to do this - all you need to do is register for a specific time period and you are allowed to live alone in the tower! A good way to be close to God, but I think it is too much to only live there for such a long period of time, as the first man did.
After we were finished in the cathedral, we went to a confectionery and made Linzer-Torte! (These are pies that have jam between the two layers of crust and the crust on top appears to be a checkerboard with the jam peeking through.) We each were able to construct and take one home.
And now for more recent happenings: this week. We have begun to do a gift exchange in my class, kind of like Secret Santas, where we give gifts each week of Advent. I have received two so far! (And I have no idea who it is yet...) Also pertaining to Advent - Advent calendars are really popular here and everyone has several! I have one from my host father that he got in Berlin and one from my mother that has chocolate inside! Here they are:
On Monday, I attended the Rotary Christmas celebration with my club here. Before I went, the other girl in my club and I met up to go get coffee (and we went be the Christkindlmarkt to get something sweet, as well...)
Tuesday was December 6, which is Nikolaus Day here. I was visited and received two bags filled with chocolates!
On Tuesday, I went to the bus stop and waited. I was a bit annoyed at the freezing rain, but willing to put up with it, as I was finally going home before it was dark out. Once my bus came, I got on, sat down, and pulled out a book, as it seemed weather-appropriate. (Well, when is it not appropriate to pull out a book?) About half an hour later, the girl next to me said she needed to get off, so I closed my book and slid out to let her pass. As I sat down again, however, I realized something: the ground outside was white! And the precipitation was not rain anymore - finally, it was snowing! Needless to say, my book was returned to my bag, Christmas music put into my ears, and my gaze hardly left the window the rest of the way home.
We did not have much in the end, but still. Finally.
Also worth noting: I received my package from home yesterday! (Thanks, Mama!)
Now I just need to send a few Christmas cards...