Sam Fast

 Austria

Hometown: Orlando, Florida
School: Timber Creek
Sponsor District : District 6980
Sponsor Club: International Drive, Florida
Host District: 1910
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Traun


My Bio


Guten Tag! Ich bin Samantha. (Good day! I am Samantha). Technically I am an only child, but I’m sure my four legged brother would like to differ. I’m originally from New York, and moved to Orlando with my Mom and dog AJ when I was 7. I am currently a sophomore at Timber Creek High School, and I cannot wait to spend my junior year in Austria!! I’m very involved in my high school's arts departments, so I can always be found in the theatre, art rooms, or choir room. Though I used to be very shy, I’m very proud of the positive, outgoing person I’ve become. I make it a point to try to talk to at least one new person a day, and try to do five things for others a day. As well, I love to read, and I’m avid collector of books, many which evaluate techniques of art, and their history. Whether it be an art book, or a book with a plot, I love exploring through words. In my free time, I can be found hanging out with friends, exploring the hidden gems of cafe’s and coffee shops in Central Florida, or spending too much time and money at Disney World. I am quite the Disney fanatic, and I find the magic of Disney completely enthralling. Needless to say, I am absolutely thrilled to exchange to Austria! I cannot wait to experience the culture firsthand, learn German, see the beautiful landscape and architecture, and so much more. I hope in this year that I can grow as a person and a citizen of the world, hopefully gaining a global perspective. I’m so thankful for this opportunity that I have been given by Rotary, and can’t wait to begin! Auf Wiedersehen for now!

Wörthersee

Wörthersee

Fog on the Traunsee

Fog on the Traunsee

View from top of a mountain in Hallstatt

View from top of a mountain in Hallstatt

Linz

Linz

MD 1910/1920 Inbounds

MD 1910/1920 Inbounds

Hallstatt

Hallstatt

Florida gals in Austria!

Florida gals in Austria!

Seeing Ben in Dresden

Seeing Ben in Dresden

Prague

Prague

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin Cathedral

Berlin Cathedral

My Rotary friends and I in Germany freezing our butts off

My Rotary friends and I in Germany freezing our butts off

Abby when she came to visit me in Linz and we found an awesome Chinese buffet

Abby when she came to visit me in Linz and we found an awesome Chinese buffet

The Christmas Market in Linz

The Christmas Market in Linz

Hanging out on a Friday night with my friends Thomas and Lucas in Linz

Hanging out on a Friday night with my friends Thomas and Lucas in Linz

A little drawing of the Taubenmarkt in Linz that I drew while waiting for the bus. (The triangle is the fountain but it's covered for the winter.)

A little drawing of the Taubenmarkt in Linz that I drew while waiting for the bus. (The triangle is the fountain but it's covered for the winter.)

My school friend Emi and I at a traditional Austrian dance fest wearing dirndls

My school friend Emi and I at a traditional Austrian dance fest wearing dirndls

View looking out to the mountains that act as the borders between Austria, Slovenia, and Italy.

View looking out to the mountains that act as the borders between Austria, Slovenia, and Italy.

A cake my second host mom and I baked together when I stayed with them for a week.

A cake my second host mom and I baked together when I stayed with them for a week.

Me freezing my butt off after a light snow.

Me freezing my butt off after a light snow.

In Vienna for Abby's Birthday

In Vienna for Abby's Birthday

My Gnocci

My Gnocci

Me on Top of The Dobratsch

Me on Top of The Dobratsch

Abby and I in Klagenfurt

Abby and I in Klagenfurt

New Years

New Years

Random church I decided to walk into one day after school...beautiful!

Random church I decided to walk into one day after school...beautiful!

Debutante Ball

Debutante Ball

Venice

Venice

Journals: Sam-Austria Blog 2017-2018

  • Sam, Outbound to Austria

    So I'm coming up on my 6 month mark. I cannot believe that I've been here for almost half a year. It actually freaks me out a little bit when I think about how much time has passed, and how it feels like nothing at all.

    I've been up to quite a bit as of late. All of the exchange students went to Salzburg in December for a meeting. It was cool, as we got to see the kids from Croatia, meaning Valentina and I got to see some familiar faces from Florida! We also had our Christmas break, in which I spent with my host family in the south. We went hiking literally everyday, and my favorite was when we hiked a mountain called the "Dobratsch" and sledded down as the sun set.

    Christmas was nice. We lit candles and sparklers on the tree, ate smoked fish, sang songs, ate cookies, and opened gifts. I thought I'd be homesick but I wasn't!

    After Christmas, we drove back up north to Linz for a couple days for New Years. I spent New Years with my second host family, and my best friend Abby. Abby came in from Vienna, and we went to a big dinner with friends of my host parents, lit fireworks, and just danced to music on the radio...it doesn't sound like a lot, but it was really fun. I think sometimes fun isn't defined by what you're doing, but who you're doing it with.

    On New Years Day, I went back with Abby to my first host family, and we drove back down south. Abby and I spent 2 days in Klagenfurt, the capital of the state of Carinthia, with our friends that live there. The best, was when we found a "Running Sushi" restaurant, one of those conveyor belt Asian restaurants, and it was a buffet! We ate there both days and it was sooooo good.

    We also went with my host parents to Venice, Italy. Italy is on the southern border of Carinthia, so it was only about a 3 hour drive to Venice.

    In Venice, we walked around the beautiful streets, and ate awesome food. We ate lunch in a small restaurant, where I ate pesto gnocci, and it was amazing. We also had real Italian gelato, which was to die for. On the way home, we stopped in Udine, Italy for dinner. There, Abby and I each had our own pizza, and then shared a platter of fried calamari with an amazing citrus cream sauce. My stomach had a really good time in Italy!

    After the second week of vacation, Abby went back to Vienna, and we went back to Linz where I started packing for my family switch. I had already known and loved my second host family, so I was really excited.

    I have two new host siblings, a host brother who's 12, and a host sister who's 13. They're awesome! I love my new host family and feel so lucky!

    Right now, I'm looking forward to a ball they're taking me to on the 27th. Super excited!

    Also forgot to mention, I had my debutante ball! It was awesome, and I'm continuing to the next level of ballroom dances in my dance school, I'm really excited!

    Click HERE to read more about Sam and all her blogs

  • Sam, Outbound to Austria

    Hey there. I'm in my 4th month of exchange right now. I can't believe it. November has flown by so fast, and next weekend already is the first weekend of December.

    Today is Thanksgiving back home, so I thought I'd talk about what I'm thankful for in my life right now.

    Obviously I'm thankful to be on this exchange. This experience has truly changed my life, and by no means would I be the person I am today without it. I have learned how to pick myself up when there's no one else there to help me, I've learned how to live spontaneously, and I've also learned that sometimes you just need to call your mom and cry, because no matter how old you get, there's nothing wrong with that.

    I've learned to stop being embarrassed and insecure, if people really like you, they wont care how straight your hair is or how perfect your skin looks. They'll love you for you.

    I've learned a lot about love these last few months as well. Here I've been lucky enough to meet some of the most important people I've ever had in my life. I don't know what I'd do without the other exchange students here. Don't get me wrong, I have fantastic school friends and I love them too, but all the exchange students, we're like a family. We are a family.

    My friends have taught me so much about love. They are the most selfless, hilarious, wonderful friends I've ever had, and god I'm so thankful. No one is ever left behind with this group; You can't afford something? They'll figure out together how to cover you. Need someone to spill your thoughts and feelings too? They're lining up to be there for you. We are all so comfortable with each other, like we've known each other for years not months.

    Also concerning love, I've learned that when you can't find love in other people, you need to be able to find it within yourself. For me, this means appreciating small things as if they were the best gifts in the world. Yesterday for example, the sun shined for the first time for a long time. I love Austria, but the fall to winter transition weather has been very cold, grey, and rainy. Anyways, yesterday there was sun. I was in school, and I just sat their and looked out the window, watching how the sun shone into the room, and I felt so warm inside. I'd never thought I'd appreciate something so simple as the sun like that, but I did, and I found that love within myself.

    Off the topic of giving thanks, Christmas markets are starting. There are a few in Linz, but so far I've only been to the big one in the Hauptplatz because it opened first. It really feels like magic with all of the lights and people and warm food. I'm kind of broke right now, but I can't wait until I get my December stipend to buy small gifts for my family and friends, and try the yummy food there.

    I've also taken up some new hobbies. I really missed singing since I do musical theatre at home, and so I talked to my host dad and we were able to get me voice lessons. I'm so excited, my teacher is lovely, and even better she speaks no English, so we're forced to speak German.

    I also started knitting! Call me Grandma, but I actually really like it. My best school friend and my best Rotary friend wanted me to try it, so I gave into the peer pressure. I'm kind of messy because I've never done it before, but hopefully with time I'll get better.

    Lastly, I'm becoming a debutante. It's really exciting and all of my school friends are too, so we're doing it together. On December 9th there's a huge ball where we'll dance in white dresses, and I'm super excited.

    So yeah everything is good. I'm addicted to European sweets, but that's not new. I'm happy. In all honesty, I'm not as jumping for joy as I was the last few months, maybe it's because I'm missing the holidays season, but I'm very content, and that's more than enough that I could ask for.

    I thought I'd include some photos. They're not of anything in particular, but just things and people that make me happy and I'm thankful for. Enjoy.

    Click HERE to read more about Sam and all her blogs

  • Sam, Outbound to Austria

    Click HERE to read more about Sam and all her blogs

    So in one week I will be hitting my 3 month mark in Austria! That's so crazy to think about, that I've actually been here for three months. That's almost a quarter of my whole exchange gone.

    Life is settling down now and is pretty good. My German is soooo much better. When I say so much better, I really mean so much better. I came to Austria with practically no German skills, and now my host family and I speak together in only German.

    I really like my school, and the people in it. It's sometimes a little challenging to keep up with the social lives of my Austrian friends both physically and financially, because they always seem to have plans, and they always want me to come!

    I also love my Rotary friends. The other exchange students here are some of the best friends I've ever had in my life. This past week, were on a Rotary trip, and we all started belting "Don't Stop Believing" in the bus together. It was one of the most pure moments ever, we were all laughing and singing and having so much fun, and all I could do was just look around at everybody and see all the love and happiness our group shares.

    The trip we went on was actually really awesome. It was called "City Tour," and it was a 4 day trip through Prague, Dresden, and Berlin. Each city was absolutely beautiful in it's own unique way. We were given tours of each city by professional tour guides, and free time in each city to explore on our own. My favorite was probably Berlin, just because it was so large and diverse, with so much to do.

    Also, when we were in Dresden, I got to see Ben, another exchange student from my home district 6980. He's in Dresden on his exchange now, and even though I didn't have much time (the only time I had was literally when we were checking out of the hotel), it was so cool/weird to see a face that makes me think of home. I mean here Valentina the other outbound to Austria from Florida and I have gotten really close, but because I didn't know her personally back in Florida, in my head I identify her with my exchange here in Austria. Seeing Ben was cool though, and I was really glad to hear he's thriving on exchange also.

    Unrelated, but something I just I'd mention to any future outbound to a German speaking country...German is hard. Unless you've studied German for an extensive period of time, you're not ready. I didn't have German class in school, nor the funds for a private tutor, so Duolingo was my best best. I will tell you right now, Duolingo is made to learn words and phrases to open up your knowledge in a language, not teach you the whole thing. When I first got to Austria I thought I was well prepared for at least basic things, but as soon as my exchange began I realized I knew nothing. Luckily, in Austria there is a Language Camp for two weeks, so that was really useful for beginning my German immersion.

    A few tips for anyone learning German:

    1. There is so much regional dialect it's almost annoying. You won't understand it at first, but just listen really closely to people's tone of voice in what they're saying and what the words you're hearing could possibly mean. Zum beispiele (for example), the simple phrase "Ich weiss nicht" meaning "I don't know." In the region of Austria where I live, a Hoch Deutsch (High German) as it's called sentence like this would be pronounced completely differently from how it's read. Typically you'd read it as "Eech-vice-neecht" but in Upper Austria it's pronounced "Ee-vass-neckt." So confusing!

    2. German grammar is dare I say a witch with a capital B. There are 4 cases in German, and with these cases, the articles of the words in the sentence change not only in gender sometimes, but what the article is itself. The article "der" for example, can change to den or dem depending on the sentence structure. Same with ein ("a" or "an" in English). Depending on case and gender "a" or "an" could be ein, eine, einen, einem, eines, etc. Again, so confusing!

    3. Greetings. I guess this can fall under dialect, but greetings differ so much depending on what country you're in. I feel like such an idiot now, because in my RYE bio the first thing it says is "Guten Tag." Let me tell you firsthand, no one, and I mean NO ONE uses "Guten Tag" in Austria. If you say Guten Tag, you're so obviously foreign. In Austria for example, people say "Servus," "Grüß Gott." I'm sure in Switzerland, and Lichtenstein they have their own greetings as well.

    Maybe I'll write a whole journal about German, because I genuinely wish I had a guide book to all of this when I first started.

    Anyways, everything is good for the most part, and I'm enjoying myself. So ja, auf wiederhören!

  • Sam, Outbound to Austria

    Click HERE to read more about Sam and all her blogs

    Wow. I cannot believe I've been in Austria for almost a month now. This has probably been one of the best months of my life, I can't even believe that my exchange has finally become a reality.

    I spent my first week with my host family, then the next two weeks at a Sprachkurs (language course) with all of the other inbounds, and now I am back with my host family.

    The first week was awesome, we spent the first two days touring around Linz (Austria's 3rd largest city, where I will be living). We went to museums, walked around the beautiful architecture, and had the best ice cream ever. The next day, we went to Attersee, a town on a beautiful lake, where Gustav Klimt did a lot of his work. It was absolutely beautiful here, the lakes are crystal blue. We went swimming in the lake, and then had dinner at an Italian restaurant, where I had the best serving of Pesto Pasta I've ever had in my life. The end of the week was spent in Wörthersee, a village near Klagenfurt where my host family has a nice home over looking the water. The view of the lake is surrounded by mountains that mark as the borders to both Italy and Slovenia. Here we swam, and hiked a small mountain where there is a viewing tower on top. After climbing the viewing tower and taking in the amazing view, there was a slide all the way to the bottom, which I got to go down twice! It overall was a great week.

    On that Sunday, we drove to Almünster, a town in Upper Austria closer to Linz than Wörthersee, where the Sprachkurs would be held.

    The language course was a blast! I got a chance to get closer with all of the other Inbounds here in the Austrian multidistrict, and improved my German drastically. Before, I could barely make out what my host family said in German and we spoke only English. Now, I am able to understand a substantial amount. Though I'm not so great at speaking yet, it's nice to have a better grip of what's going on when listening to people speak.

    On the weekend between the first and second weeks of the language course, we took a trip to Hallstatt. It was so crazy going there, because when you look up Austria online, typically the first photos you see are that of Hallstatt, so it was crazy actually being there. We went inside the top of a mountain to take a tour of the Salt Mines, which was insanely cool. There were also slides inside the mountain that during the tour we got to go down. After wards,we were free to tour Hallstatt, so a few friends and I went for lunch where I had my first Schnitzel. It was so so good. Then we headed back to Almünster, where we continued the Sprachkurs.

    The course really improved my non-existent German. I have a really good foundation now, and I will continue to build it up, as I'm going to be taking another German course when school starts.

    The one negative to the language course, was that it got me addicted to European chocolate. We were given freizeit (free time) every day after classes, which most of the exchange students used to go to the Kebap restaurant, the lake, or in my case, the grocery store to stock up on chocolate. My favorite is a kind called "Schoko-Bananen" which are moist banana marshmallows coated in semi-sweet chocolate. They are absolutely to die for!

    The breaks were also really nice to just enjoy the scenery and nature of Almünster. It was so wonderful, there was one day that was very rainy and grey, and during the freizeit a couple of friends and I walked down to the lake. It was so picturesque- the fog hanging over the mountains and water, it was a dream.

    Currently I am back in Wörthersee with my host family for the week for vacation, and next week we will go back to Linz. This past Sunday we went down to the tourist area of the lake, and did tube-skiing. It was like water-skiing, except that connected the boat were durable inflatable tubes. It was crazy, because you skipped on the water after the boat, and if you skipped on too big of a wave you got thrown out of the tube whether you liked it or not. Today, we are going to a pasta making factory where we will see the pasta being made before we eat it for dinner...yum! Tomorrow we will go to Italy for the day, which I am ecstatic about, since, well, it's Italy!

    This month has truly been a blast. I know everything will calm down when school starts, but for now I'm enjoying it!

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