I am here, and I am not sure what I expected. I spent about six hours on a plane next to a Spanish “tipo” (who I can only describe as smelling like a “botellón“), everyone in town speaks German and I actually have to read for my classes. However, there is a sense of isolation. I am away from my closest friends with people I do not really know. However, there was a point in the semester that I made a decision. Am I going to just sulk over my situation or am I going to break apart, sweep the shattered remnants of my comfort zone into the metaphorical trash bin and approach the rest of my time with an open mind and open heart?
Salzburg: From Sulk to Smile
In Salzburg, for the first part, I had the former attitude. The tour was boring, the weather was dreadful and I was worrying about how to discover the city. When I joined a group around the city, I got frustrated with their hemming and hawing about what to do and went on my own. After a good sulk, I realized: I am in Salzburg, Austria! Especially since I often travel to Canada alone when in Steubenville, I have a city to explore on my own! When I realized that, my attitude turned and I saw the city with new eyes. I wound and lost myself in the streets, by the river and into all the natural and man-made beauty I could find. Even though I would not go on the tour or wear nice shoes if I could do it again, it taught me a great lesson: break apart not just from a group but break apart yourself, leaving someone smaller and humbler but with more wonder and enthusiasm.
Latin American Oasis
One diamond I discovered from my wandering in Salzburg was a Latin American restaurant called La Piraña. The restaurant had great food, but what made it a true oasis was that the nice lady running the restaurant spoke fluent Spanish. Being in a country where most people do not speak English well, the burden can seem tangible. In contrast, being conversant in Spanish, I could just chat with her, forgetting few words. If you know, or are comfortable with, Spanish, it can be a nice break from the cultural shock of being surrounded by German-speakers.
Finally, having just written an article on preparation, I ought to follow up on the fruits of my preparation. I am glad I have a passport and banking is working well. However, no matter which bank you have, be prepared to go to the school office to call a 1-800 number for “extra verification” when buying things online, like train tickets. As to using a SIM card, since I got it working, it has been an immense blessing.
Blessings in Disguise
Adjusting to Austria has involved ups and downs: nights rejoicing and nights alone. However, finding God in it all and finding my own worth and capability to discover what is right in front of me has been indispensable. From there, it seems everything else falls in line, with blessings being easier to see. However, even if they do not, so what? You are in Europe.