"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

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Note From "Home"

Last Saturday, I woke up, rushed, and drove to the airport, sad to be leaving my host family that had welcomed me so lovingly into their hearts and home.
I flew from Salzburg to Frankfurt.
My flight was on time.
I missed my flight to the US.
I ran around to several different counters, spoke to different representatives, and had to go through passport check stations multiple times.
I rescheduled my flight - leaving in about 7 hours.
I reached the US, finally found my luggage, went through customs, had my bags checked.
I left the security area and saw my brother in person for the first time in almost a year.
He ran and got my parents, and the joy and relief were tangible.
Two hours of driving later, we were at our house.
I slept.

Having been in the US for a full week, I feel that it is about time to start recording my reactions to being what may be called "home." Yes, it is, but not fully. I miss Austria more than I had expected and less, as well - it depends entirely on the moment. Resuming my old life is reassuring but also unsettling as I fully come to realize what it means. I have to partially let go of things I have become used to. What I had forgotten had to be taken up again.

Much of what I first experienced - reverse culture shock - was simply just being overwhelmed. I did not, have not, seen too many people since coming back, but just going out to Walmart was shocking for me initially. I had forgotten how much space we have here that allows us to expand in such ways; I once asked one of my Austrian friends if she thought that Americans were wasteful with their land (she having been to the US). She said that before she went, she had thought so, but after seeing the layout, mindset, and way of life we maintain here, she now fully understands it and does not think it wasteful. I agree with her, but there is still a little mocking voice in the back of my mind despite the fact that it is already normal again.

If you took the time to read this as I lived my year in my adopted country, thank you :) It was brought to my attention that many were not sure whether or not I intended to continue blogging after the allotted year was over, and I would like to inform you all that I believe I will! It may be a bit different that before, but I will always be glad to have readers. Naturally, I am not taking as many pictures, but here are two that I snapped along the way...

I was glad to see Muffin again :)

And one American adventure I had to have: Chick-fil-A sandwich!

best wishes,
mary beth

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Beautiful Ending

For my last week in Austria, we easily managed to keep busy. We had lovely weather, and our weekend was spent taking the train/hiking up the Schafberg (pretty but hot!) on Saturday and visiting a medieval festival Sunday (where I experimented with shooting a bow & arrow!).

On Wednesday, we celebrated the 4th of July/my return! It was fun for everyone - and I shared the American tradition of making s'mores (a first for them)! A bit amusing to teach my friends and family to make them since I'm so accustomed to them, but I am glad that I was able to pass it on.

Today was my last day of school and last full day in my adopted country; I cannot express how much I will miss it and my friends and family here! Thank you to everyone who has welcomed me - most especially my family. I love you all and will miss you until we are able to see each other again!

see you at the airport dark and early,
mary beth

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I can now say that I like octopus

Hello, once again! I have much to catch you all up on - the end is near! I will be returning to the US on Saturday, and this will be my second to last post before I leave Austria. Putting off my blog for so long was first due to my busy schedule, and now has more to do with the fact that this is admitting I am leaving soon. Which I am not sure I want to do after my year here...

Let us begin with the beginning of June. My host mother and I share the same birthday, and we celebrated and had a lovely time :) The second weekend of he month, we went on a tour of some of Austria that I had not yet seen and went over into Germany to see the one and only Neuschwanstein! (Which, as you can see, was having some reparations done.)

Innsbruck, Austria, as shown by my perfectly straight photography.
Guess where this was?!
Alpbach, Austria, said to be the most beautiful town in the country.
I am of the opinion that the snails here are much prettier than ours...
See the series of waterfalls? Those would be the Krimmler Waterfalls, which we went partially up...  
I went to visit my friend who lives close to Vienna, where we pretty much enjoyed spending time together, so there's not too much to say. Other than the fact that her host family's cat just had kittens:

The next week, my family and I went to visit the small yet beautiful country of Slovenia (borders Austria, Croatia, and Italy). We stayed in a villa with a view of the sea, and it was quite hot, so we spent a good amount of time in it, too! For our last night, we stayed with friends of the family, who were kind enough to take us out on their boat to let us swim in deeper water. (They also made sure we were overly-fed; it was very well done, though!)

On our way to the coast, we stopped in this part of the country, on the Soca river, WHICH IS WHERE THE 2ND NARNIA MOVIE WAS FILMED!!!  

Believe me, it was cold!

I had octopus twice on this trip - my first time trying it! - and this is actually the 2nd. The first I had rather late, so it was too dark to be able to see anything. (Well, you could, but I looked back at the pictures later, and let's just say they didn't look too appetizing.) 

The sea where we swam, as seen from the boat :)
My last week is almost up, and I will share that with you soon enough! I trust you are all still doing well, and happy Independence Day to those of you in the US!

mary beth

P.S. In case you didn't figure it out, the house we visited was upside down ;)