Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tomorrow I depart for Belgrade, Serbia!

We'll take a 12 hour train ride to this Balkan country! I'm traveling with 8 others: an American, an Irishman, and 6 French! It'll be an amazing time and we'll have plenty of pictures!

One of my precious friends left these post its on all of our doors..
I'm yet to find out who's the mastermind!

Last night was part I of the semi-finals for "Eurovision". This is an American Idol type competition between European countries. I watched with my Irish friends and boy was it tense! The Irish act secured the last spot in the finals, so we were on pins and needles waiting to hear the results! When they announced the 'golden ticket' winner we erupted! We hope to watch the finals Saturday night in Serbia. It would be amazing if Serbia won- what a party in Belgrade!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tscheppaschlucht Canyon

The international team organized a visit to "The famous (unbeknown to me) Tscheppaschlucht Canyon". This area is about 20 minutes from Klagenfurt and offered a lovely landscape. We spent all afternoon hiking it's rugged terrain and climbing innumerable stairs, but the views were worth the effort.

It reminded me of Tahlequah-the water, trees, and even a steep hill with white rocks. Can't wait to get back to the cabin, the tubs, all my little cousins making me s'mores, etc.

There was a part of the trail that didn't allow the middle of a hike through the wilderness. We all had to take our shoes off and walk through wood chips, then gravel, followed by big stones that really hurt, then through the moss-covered rocks in the water, a bit in dirt, then a section of logs. I'm not sure what the point of this was (maybe they explained in German?!), but it led us to this 'magic circle'. Needless to say, our sore and dirty feet were not happy by this point. They made us walk along the magic path, so we followed directions begrudgingly. At least we got this cool snapshot as we delicately balanced on a small stump. (ignore my psychotic looking eyes)

Lovely French friends above, reppin France
Lovely Aussie friend below

You can take the girl out of the biology department, but you can't take the
 biology department out of the girl...

After warning everyone about the creek water they were drinking, explaining about snakes and their cold blood situation, I discovered this little guy.

I'm callin common field Vole. Microtus arvalis pallus. Dad?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A brief recap...

My Austrian family, Darren and Morgan

Morgan drinkin her some teaaa
We love going to coffee shops and reading or just sitting and chatting. That's one thing I'll definitely miss when we go home, but at least we'll still have each other and the occasional homey-feeling coffee shop  (though we'll have to speak in German to still feel that isolated feeling) :)

A summary of Austria

Dalai Lama

Oh, no big deal, I saw
the Dalai Lama.

So excited!

The Dalai Lama was in Klagenfurt, KLAGENFURT!, for a lecture series this weekend. Ticket prices were outrageous, so we accepted the fact that we wouldn't get to see him. However, at the last minute thanks to my dear friend Corina, we found out he'd be accepting an award in the Neuer Platz (city center area). We woke up early (I was so excited I woke up extra early and got the others up :]) and headed to town where we got prime spots. Shortly after, his Holiness arrived and we got quite a show! Complete with traditional Austrian song and dance we heard the Dalai Lama give a few short lectures. He was funny and so deeply simple. He spoke some in his native tongue and had a German translator (all we got is that he likes Austria because he had a really great breakfast) and then spoke in English. Miriam had attended one of his lectures in India, but she said she didn't even have a good view of one of the jumbo screens, much less the man himself! We were third row, probably 30 yards from him-what a fantastic experience!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Today you get to join me at the grocery store!

I shop at the closest Billa which is conveniently located between Uni and my building. The entire store is the size of a local Walgreens. There's one 'superstore' that I go to for certain items (chicken breast, chicken nuggets, Heinz ketchup), but most of the things I need I can find at this little store!

These are some things I found funny in the store....
 Titz chicken, germ, and weiner art..

Good thing about these trips is that it only takes 10 minutes, including checkout. Bad news is I have to go every few days to stock up! I think grocery stores are going to be difficult to adjust to when I get home--
 one of the many things!

The store hands out a packet of collectible stickers if you spend over 10 euro. Obviously this is quite exciting for an exchange student that doesn't have a lot going on... I became obsessed with the stickers and then they stopped handing them out!! My friend Jeremy found a box of them that they were giving away and brought me alllllll of them :) I spent a whole night with Jeremy, Morgan, and Miriam organizing them to make a complete set! There are 210 total and I'm missing around 25. Hopefully by the time I leave I'll have them all! If I accomplish nothing else in Austria, at least I have this going for me

American Night!
Morgan and I teamed up with two other lovely American gals to cook some food that tastes like home! We decided on TexMex (how American to cook food from other countries, right?) and it was absolutely delicious! Things that taste like home are so comforting.

Pretty girlies! We had a fun night-- it felt so normal, I loved it!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Klikov, Czech Republic

I ventured on a five day exploration of the small village of Klikov in South Bohemia. With a population of 200, this village plotted next to a newly declared "Biosphere Reserve" offered an interesting study for my social ecology class. "Studying Local Rural Systems" took place as a field study of the 'community' and biological impact of this shrinking village. Traditionally a potters community, the area fell under communist control and went from 1000 inhabitants and 13 studios to 200 people and 3 studios present day.

Tiny town, tiny train, tiny station

Sunset the first night:

Our room- I shared with a Spanish girl (practiced another foreign language!), an Austrian, and a girl originally from Colorado.
The accomodations were perfect.

I spent a lot of time napping in the grass (and waking up covered in ants)

As part of our studies we went on a 34 km bike tour of the region. I'm not especially fond of biking, so this was quite the experience for me.... It was very beautiful and definitely an adventure-- I'll leave it at that!

Regardless of anything that happened the whole week was worth it for the sole reason that the non-native speakers said cow shit and horse shit instead of manure. We'd be in lecture or doing presentations and someone would say cow shit when talking about sustainability and I'd about lose it!

My small group had the opportunity to interview a local
potter named Martin. Martin was an extremely interesting man with
an unequaled positive outlook on life. After talking to him we were able
to form our opinion on village life and the community interaction there. He had pretty flowers, swallows nesting, and lovely pottery.


Typical Czech: A Pilsner glass as aquarium decoration!

Train ride back to Klagenfurt from Vienna

Anddddd the food
The whole weeks accomodation, travel, and food was paid for by a grant for education. We ate traditional Czech food which was good, but very heavy. It was a terrific cuisine experience, but I'm ready to have a salad or two!

Above is Mike's favorite, dumplings, and below is Jolyne's
 favorite, potato pancakes!

Czech cola! Made with herbs and super yummy