Titi, Outbound to Austria

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To start:

I can't believe how blessed I am to be writing about being ABROAD. I knew this moment would come, but I didn't really KNOW; it never really sank in.

A piece of advice I would give you: breathe in when you give your parents the last hug before you go through TSA because it's the last memory you'll take with you of them. Also, pre-write your family members birthday cards. I forgot to do this but it's a really nice surprise because it takes 3-4 weeks for postcards or just cards in general to get back to your family...

Here are my tips and my experiences so far-

*****TIP #1: DON'T BE NERVOUS to the point where you're scared to meet your family for the first time. Be a good nervous; remember that they're nervous too. You're not the only one.

Today marks 22 days since I arrived here in Austria. I live in a smaller town called Ried Im Innkreis. It is located in Upper Austria and it's 1 hour away from Linz, 1 hour away from Salzburg, and 2 1/2 hours from Vienna.

*****TIP #2: Learn all the 9 states in Austria. They'll really enjoy that.

These past 22 days have been the most eye opening. From small differences like the different breakfasts to the big differences like the constant German, these last 3 weeks have been filled with excitement and unexpected surprises. One of the best pieces of advice my dad gave me was "Do everything there that you won't be able to do here." So when my host family offered me dance classes, my answer was "HECK YES!!". Hiking; YES. Walk around town; YES. Orchestra concert; YES.

*****TIP #3: Be ready to walk A LOT.. In your city, at language camp...

Language Camp:

Language camp was so much fun! You meet a lot of new people. Try and get to know them. Believe me, you'll want to get to know everyone and they want to get to know you too; just take the first step. I can honestly say that i've met my best friends at language camp. With some people you just click and with others, well, they grow on you. Friendships take patience... Give it time. Also, don't lose communication. I'm not the best with communicating but be the person who texts "What's up" or "What are you up to". That's something these past three weeks have taught me.

**PAY ATTENTION IN CLASS. YOU'RE BEING GIVEN 2 WEEKS OF EXPENSIVE, INTENSIVE GERMAN CLASSES AND THEY REALLY HELP. I came with 6 months of German but after language camp, I feel like I don't have to think as hard as before. Words tend to flow more..

*****TIP #4: People forming into groups is inevitable so don't dread it but don't confine yourself to two or three friends.

*****TIP #5: Don't complain too much. That's something language camp taught me. No one likes to hear someone who's like "Thank God it rained because I REALLY didn't want to do that..."

I am so thankful to God and my parents for giving me this incredible opportunity. I think it still hasn't hit me that I am away for a whole year but I also have a feeling that this year will go by sooooo quickly.. I feel really blessed to have a host family that treats me as one of their own. My advice to you is pray every day for your family and don't get discouraged if they don't seem loving because it might be that they're nervous and don't know your comfort zone or your boundaries or don't know what to say. God knows the desires of your heart and whatever you ask in faith, you will receive.

Till next time,

Bis später alligator:)

Valentina