Sabrina Aguirre

Austria

Hometown: Miami, Florida
School: Immaculata - La Salle High School
Sponsor District : District 6990
Sponsor Club: Perrine-Cutler Ridge/Palmetto Bay, Florida
Host District: 1910 

Host Club: The Rotary Club of Perchtoldsdorf

 

My Bio


Hi! My name is Sabrina Alexandra Aguirre, and I’m from the sunny sunshine state known as Florida. I call this bustling, fun-in-the-sun vacation spot, Miami, my home. I’m sixteen years old and currently a junior in high school who is preparing to spend my next year in Austria! I’m a perky, positive person, and have enjoyed being involved in many school activities including being a cheerleader for five years, being on and editing my school's television production program for the the daily school news, and being an active member of SAC (Student Activities Council.) I’m often described as an outgoing, creative person who tends to do things differently.  I love meeting new people, exploring new places, seeing new things, and discovering new perspectives. So, I am beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to live in a whole new country!

Currently, I live with my mother and 19 year old brother, Sebastian. In my free time, I love being active and outdoors so I run and rollerblade daily. I love music. So, unlike most students, when I was told I would be going to Austria, the first thing that I did was look up Austria’s top ten songs on iTunes. When I discovered that Austria was known worldwide for it’s music and that so many renowned composers had come from Austria, you can imagine my excitement. I can’t wait to see what Austria has in store for me when I abandon the title of tourist and actually get the chance to live there! Mit herzlichen Grüßen, Sabrina


the view from language camp

the view from language camp

Walking around Altmunster

Walking around Altmunster

hanging out at the language camp

hanging out at the language camp

class time

class time

class time

class time

on a short break with the class

on a short break with the class

Wir Kommen aus den USA

Wir Kommen aus den USA

before the hike

before the hike

With a Rebound from my Club

With a Rebound from my Club

International Friendships

International Friendships

Austria's Beauty

Austria's Beauty

Austrian Sunrise

Austrian Sunrise

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Journals: Sabrina - Austria 2015-2016

  • Sabrina, outbound to Austria

    Seeing the new outbound class of 2016/2017 is surreal. It feels like I was just there. Then, I blinked my eyes and was starting my year in Austria and blinked again and it had been five months.

    With December, came the Christmas season, which is pretty important in Austria. It all starts when the streets of Mariahilfer Straße and Stephansplatz (two main shopping streets at the center) are decorated with massive chandlers made of christmas lights that are strung down the street. As the month progresses, the city is filled with Christmas Markets. Walking around the city feels like Disney World has taken over the streets. Little huts with festive knick-knacks, Christmas lights strung everywhere, and scents of and punch fill the air. You are living a fairytale, which, to some extent, you are, because Walt Disney gained his inspiration from Vienna.

    “Are you going home for the holidays?” was a question I kept getting asked. Accordingly, every time I said no, I got a look of pity and apology. I had to try to explain that the point of the exchange was to immerse yourself fully in a new culture and traditions. With that being said, many students warned that Christmas time was hard. For me, it wasn't hard, it just did not feel like Christmas. The day came and went without feeling much “Christmas spirit.” Talking to other exchange students, i’ve found that this feeling is felt by many and pretty normal.

    This is why I would like to point out that exchange is not a vacation. So many times when preparing for my trip, I was told things like, “you have a whole year off that’s great” and “you get to vacation in Europe for a whole year and do nothing, I’m so jealous!” Yet, I cannot tell you how wrong these assumptions are. Exchange is not a vacation, you cannot just go home whenever you’re tired, feeling sad, or even when it’s the holiday season, you have to stay. Before coming, you knew the consequence and probably did not think much of it, but once you're here, it really hits you. So, before you leave, spend time with your family and friend, you’re going to miss them more than you think.

    Overall, i’m feeling good in Austria. Yet, I did not follow the traditional emotional diagram shown at outbound camp. At first, we were suppose to be at a high, taking pictures of everything, so entrained with the new world, I was not. I actually, really did not like Austria. I was not homesick, I just did not like it. Then, you were suppose to go down and get homesick. Instead, when everyone was getting homesick, I began to like Austria more. Now I am pretty steady and haven't experienced any downs. So when you go on exchange realize that maybe you may experience the typical emotional diagram, but, if you don’t, that’s ok too, everyone is different!

    To see my home page click HERE


  • Sabrina, outbound to Austria

    As a girl that comes from a city which has one method of public transportation, that goes in only one direction, you could say that I wasn’t too prepared for European transport. Yet, after a week of no one being able to show me around, I thought it would be a bright idea to try to figure it out by myself.

    Soon I realized that there’s a lot more than just one station. Actually, there’s one on every corner, and where there’s one, there’s another one directly across the street from it.

    I decided to go to the nearest bus stop because it seemed right, but, of course, as an American, I always think I seem right. I sat there and waited for the bus for a few minutes and then when he pulled up I got in. Unfortunately, the driver only spoke German and, since I’m from Miami, the closest I ever got to a second language was a solid background in Spanglish.

    Struggling to ask the driver if this was the right bus, I reach down into my pocket to pull out my phone. Well, I guess Americans are known for having guns so this motion caused the now startled driver to jump up in fear with a high shriek. Blushing, he realized it was just a phone. He looked at the route I had mapped out and shock his head, it was the wrong bus.

    Before I could get off, he started the bus and motioned for me to sit, I obeyed, confused. 30 seconds later he stopped again, motioned for me to get out, and tried to point me in the direction I should go to catch the right bus. Well, his hand signals certainly did not compare to Cuban’s over-drawn motions so I once again was lost.

    I wandered a bit and eventually I ended up in front of a supermarket. It was food so I, of course, went in. I bought a huge box of cereal and went on my way trying to find the right stop again. By this time it was 14:00 and I had spent almost three hours walking up and down the blocks. I took out my cereal and began eating directly from the box. This is not exactly smiled upon in Austria so a few elder Austrian’s gave me hawk stares, but it tasted really good.

    I finally got to the stop that the cashier from the supermarket had pointed out to me and waited. The bus pulled up, it was the same driver. He slowed down a little, glanced over, and when he saw me accelerated without even stopping.

    After that, I gave up for the day and walked home. By the time I got home all my cereal was gone which was unfortunate because I had five hours until dinner.

    After this, I got the clever idea to invest in a long board. Now, this seemed like an awesome idea, but I forgot to take into account that, in order to use a long board, you have to know how to ride it first. So now I have an overpriced longboard that I need to learn how to use without falling on my face. On the bright side, I know now that the super market is in walking distance and that they accept VISA.

    For more click HERE


  • Sabrina, outbound to Austria

    When Austrians say we’re going for a walk, it is NOT a walk.

    Austrian’s should have their own dictionary which defines what they really mean when they say something.

    For language camp they said to bring “good shoes.” Well, in Miami, good shoes translates to high pumps or cute ballet flats. While in Austria, good shoes translates to shoes meant for hiking up steep mountains full of mud, trees, and animal residue.

    Also, when someone tells me, “We’re going for a walk,” I picture a nice stroll along the beach, a flat surface. This WALK that I picture is taken at a slow speed that is good for chatting. Well, in Austria, a “walk” translates to a two hour hike up a muddy mountain that is so steep that you feel like you are walking up a vertical wall.

    They said there would be a “nice view” at the top. I pictured some water, clouds, maybe some boats. I saw, mountains the looked like they were from a dream, a lake so big and blue that it didn’t even compare to my Miami ocean, and a little fairytale town nestled seaside, along a forest green land, beside the mountains.

    Visit my page for photos and more HERE

  • Sabrina, outbound to Austria

    Basic Day in Language Camp
    here's our schedule:

    7:30-8:30 breakfast
    8:30-10:00 class
    10:00-10:10 break
    10:10-11:30 class
    11:30- 1:00 class
    2:00-5:45 break
    5:45-8 dinner/break
    8-9 homework
    9-10 snack/lights outs

    Knowledge of this would have helped me a lot because I had no idea what to expect since the instructions were sent in German, yikes! Being around other exchange students is very helpful. You get to relax and learn at the same time. Some kids are having a harder time than others so it's great to talk about that here with one another. This camp is also great because you get to find out who lives by you so you make more friends to hangout with. Even though, they suggest not hanging out with exchange students a lot and to make Austrian friends, the camp is helpful because you make connections and have people to talk to that actually understand you and what you're feeling.

    Visit my page for photos and more HERE

  • Sabrina, outbound to Austria

    "home or home home?”

    This was a frequent question asked at language camp and it really is a drag having to clarify. Whenever someone would say, “I forgot this at home,” or something referring to home, everyone would always in confusion ask, "which home?" Austria was all our new homes now, but we were still too new to be able to say that and be comfortable with it.

    Language camp was fun, the location was like a place from a movie. The rooms weren’t so movie-like though. They all had different setups and sizes, but they each consisted of a small bathroom, and old wooden beds against the walls. How many people were in your room and the size of your room was all luck. I didn’t get so lucky, but we made it work.

    Altmunster is beautiful, we stayed in this school known to the locals as BEA which is next to a palace-like structure. The school isn't so palace-like, but they have a slide, and if you explore enough you can find a whole rock climbing room with walls and everything downstairs.

    The classes were kinda tiring, but fun, we always had free time in-between and after. The town is beautiful with tons of mountains, colorful flowers, and fairytale-like cottages, but there’s not much to do. So we normally passed our time by walking down the mountain to the lake and just chilling, swimming, and eating, of course. Spar, the supermarket also become quite the hangout spot for buying junk food.

    The last week we found out that if you keep walking down the road you can find a town named Gmunden where they have actual stores, bigger supermarkets, and just more to do. It’s about 30 minutes there so it’s a bit of a walk, but def. worth it. The ice cream there is sweet!

    Word of advice for anyone going to Austrian language camp:
    there are no washing machines and hand washing is not as easy as it sounds
    -Bring extra undergarments (especially girls)
    -Bring swimsuit
    -You can repeat bottoms you wear, but still bring enough
    -Bring multiple shirts
    -There’s no soap or shampoo so bring your own

    Visit my page for photos and more HERE

  • Sabrina, outbound to Austria

    How does one pack seventeen years of their life into one suitcase? Simple, you DON'T. Instead, you splurge and pack two big bags and then, if you’re me, you pack two big suitcases, one small rolling one, and an extra large backpack. Then, you still manage to arrive in your host country, thousands of miles away, and realize that you forgot half of your things.

    When I got to the checkin line at the airport, the nerves began to hit. As I walked up to the counter, I looked up at the Airline associate and put on big Rotary smile, partially because I was nervous and partially because my bags were both over weight and I didn’t want to pay extra.  I put my first bag on the scale, 53 pounds, for a second she hesitated and then took the bag, not saying anything. Then, came the next bag, she was going to charge me extra for sure.

    So, I did the most logical thing, with a smile I put on my Christmas tree, Rotary jacket and grinned ear to ear, she recognized the blazer, constantly I didn’t have to pay extra for my 58 pound bag.

    After, having a bite to eat, I said the big goodbye to my mom and brother. Anxiously I then waited in line as they stared and watched me with bleeding eyes. If I could just make it through the security check, before they saw me start to tear it would be fine. When I got the the front I realized that I had somehow  managed to lose my boarding pass. This made things even more awkward because I had to get out of line, go wait for another boarding pass, and do a whole new now tear-filled goodbye.

    When I boarded the plane I felt like I was leaving something behind. I kept checking my bags to make sure that I had everything…
    wallet 2. phone 3. charger, everything was there.

    I had a layover in New Jersey, the airport was huge, and I had to take a bus to get to my terminal for my final departure flight to Austria. When I got there I bought a chocolate chip cookie, I didn’t think much of it, it wasn’t even that good, but the things I’d do for a bite of that American Chocolate Chip cookie now are unbelievable.

    I waited around for a while and ran into a girl from Canada going to Austria too. She was only fifteen years old, I was in disbelief that someone so new to high school could go abroad. We went to the desk and asked to be seated together, the flight wasn’t full so they switched our tickets to be next to one another.

    Eventually, we ran into a guy who was traveling with Rotary to Poland and taking our flight as a layover flight. We all chatted about our clubs back home and made small chat about our families and activities we liked until it was time to board. When we boarded we ran into another Rotary student going to Austria as well. He had been left sitting alone the whole time waiting to board, oops!

    As we sat in our seats, we stared out the window as the plane zoomed off American soil. As we gazed through the small oval shaped window, we watched down as the plane ascended higher and higher into the sky, as we caught our last glimpse of our home.

    *I wore black leggings, a white collared shirt with a cream colored v-neck, light sweater, convers,and my rotary jacket

    To see the rest of my page and photos click HERE

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