Maggie Frantz


Hometown: Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
School: Ponte Vedra High School
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Host District: 1910
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Wien-Prinz Eugen

My Bio

Grüß Gott! Ich bin Maggie. I am 17 years old and a Junior at Ponte Vedra High School. I have two older brothers (in college) and I live at home with my twin sister, Katie (Who will be on exchange in Brazil next year!), as well as my Mom, Dad, and my sweet, golden retriever, Runner. Being the daughter of a flight attendant, I’ve had many opportunities to travel, which has nurtured my curiosity for the world around me. While I’ve always enjoyed traveling, I am so ecstatic to LIVE somewhere new, not just visit for a few days; and I am so thrilled to say that next year I will be living in Österreich (Austria)! I can’t wait to immerse myself in the culture and learn a new language! Being a classically trained cellist, as well as working a lot with my school’s theatre department, I can’t wait to see the art and music scene in Austria. As a Floridian, I am psyched to experience an Austrian Winter complete with Christmas Markets and snow! I have so much gratitude towards my parents and Rotary for supporting me and allowing me to go on this adventure. Six months ago RYE wouldn’t have been in my wildest dreams. At least once a day I find myself saying “What the heck! I’m going to Austria!” There are not enough words in the English language to describe how excited I am! Perhaps I’ll find the perfect words in German? Auf Wiedersehen!

Taken on my second day here!

Taken on my second day here!

The Holy Roman Imperial Crown- My Little Brother asked if he could buy it!

The Holy Roman Imperial Crown- My Little Brother asked if he could buy it!

All the RYE student who arrived in August!

All the RYE student who arrived in August!

Secretly wishing I was Argentinian!

Secretly wishing I was Argentinian!

Taken at Hallstatt!

Taken at Hallstatt!

The view from our Saturday hike featuring my favorite Colombian!

The view from our Saturday hike featuring my favorite Colombian!

My favorite Canadian.

My favorite Canadian.

Austria is the most stunning place on planet Earth.

Austria is the most stunning place on planet Earth.

Hiking Weekend!

Hiking Weekend!

Left- My Dirndl Right- My school friends and I at our 150 year celebration

Left- My Dirndl Right- My school friends and I at our 150 year celebration

Left- My Reunion with Ryan Jones. Right- Vienna Weekend with some of the best people ever

Left- My Reunion with Ryan Jones. Right- Vienna Weekend with some of the best people ever

Rotary Christmas Party

Rotary Christmas Party

Winter Solstice!

Winter Solstice!

Christmas get-together with my class.

Christmas get-together with my class.

Some of the many Christmas Markets I attended.

Some of the many Christmas Markets I attended.

Journals: Maggie-Austria Blog 2018-19

  • Maggie, Outbound to Austria

    Hi Readers! It is already halfway through my exchange and I am NOT here for it! Time is moving too fast and I am not even ready to think about going home. Five months used to seem like eternity, but now that thats all the time I have here, it feels like a minute! I survived the dreaded holiday time—where most exchangers feel overwhelmed with homesickness—and have lived to tell you all about it…


    In September, my host mom mentioned to me an article she read about American Thanksgiving and asked me about how my family celebrates it. After a long conversation, it was decided, we were going to celebrate it here in Austria. Fast forward a few months to the Saturday after Thanksgiving. My host mom and I spent the whole day in the kitchen, making Pumpkin Pie, Sweet Potato Casserole, Green Beans, and of course a Turkey! My host brother thought it'd be disgusting to eat marshmallows on sweet potatoes and pumpkin as a dessert. I actually bet with him on if he’d like it or not. Funny enough, he was the only one of my family who actually liked the combo of marshmallows and sweet potatoes. The rest of my family took one bite, and politely scraped the remaining marshmallows aside. My brothers still owes me those five euros… The day was overall a wonderful time to spend with my host fam, and gave me lot to be thankful for….

    Fröhes Weihnachten!!!

    I survived my first Austrian Christmas and I am here to write all a bout it! It was the most beautiful and loveliest experience of my entire exchange and I’m pretty sad to see it go. To start, I thought I’d write down some traditions that we celebrate in Austria, that aren’t celebrated back in the U.S.


    In Austria we have Christmas Markets. This tradition dates back to the first Winter Market in Vienna in 1298.They are little markets of huts where one can buy handmade gifts, sweets, or hot drinks. The two traditional drinks of Christmas Markets are Glüwein (A wine mulled with spices and tea) and Punsch (Warm punch). They are magical, quaint, little villages in different important parts of the town. They begin in Mid November and go up until Christmas.


    Okay, so some people have this tradition in America, but it comes from Europe. An Advent Calendar is a Calendar with a little window for each day of December leading up to Christmas. Typically it has chocolate or sweets inside. Our family had one with beautiful pictures inside, and my mom had made little sacks to open with a sweet inside for every child in the family. My class also did an Advent Calendar with a bag of sweets for a different student each day.

    Advent Kranz

    Every family has a wreath on their table with four candles. Every Sunday before Christmas we light a new one until all four are lighted. Traditionally, Advent Wreaths have three purple candles and one pink, however ours had four green-grey candles. Every Sunday we’d have an Advent Breakfast. We’d sing Christmas songs as we light the new candle. My host dad made song books filled with traditional Austrian Folksongs and it had all their favorite Christmas songs inside. My class also had an Advent Kranz that we “lit” (the candles were fake) every Friday. I think this was probably my favorite Austrian Tradition.


    In Austria, a predominantly Roman Catholic Country, gifts aren’t brought by Santa Claus. They are brought by Christkind (Baby Jesus). Along with the presents, the whole tree is brought and decorated by Christkind. How an infant is able to pull this off I have no idea. But that is the magic of Christmas and Jesus’s miraculous powers…

    St. Nikolaus and Krampus

    On the 6th of December, St. Nikolaus comes and leaves goodies for well behaved children. We all got a chocolate Nikolaus in our window from St. Nikolaus. On the eve of St. Nikolaus’s Day, his companion, Krampus comes to punish misbehaved children. The tradition is that he puts the bad children in a sack and hits them with a stick. Today, in small towns, men dress up in sheep skins, ragged clothes, chains, and devil-like masks and run around the town whipping whoever is in their way. I was visited by Krampus at my waltz school. He and St. Nikolaus made a visit. All of the students had to learn a special “Krampus Dance” and if we did it poorly we were whipped by Krampus! It was honestly the most terrifying dance lesson of my life.


    We celebrated the Winter Solstice! We were invited along with 25 others to a traditional Austrian Winter Solstice celebration. We hiked up a snowy mountain at night to a mountain hut where we drank Glüwein, Tea, and Frankfurters. Then we went outside and sang traditional Austrian songs around a Bonfire. The last song we all sang while holding hands. It was about life and friendship. Then we all jumped over the fire to bring luck in the new year. We then climbed down the mountain. It was so beautiful! You could see the snow perfectly as it was a full moon. My host dad later told me that probably only 500 people in Austria celebrate the Winter Solstice every year, and that I was surely the only RYE Student to ever celebrate it. It was so wonderful to celebrate such an old tradition! I will never forget it.

    Leading up to Christmas

    Now that I’ve identified some differences, here are some of the wonderful moments leading up to Christmas!

    Going to the Movies with Friends

    I finally got the courage to ask girls from my class to hang out! We saw the new Nutcracker film, and ate so much popcorn and Christmas candy. It’s nothing huge, but it was a big step for me to ask them, and it was such a nice afternoon out with the girls.

    Rotary Christmas Party

    My host club had its annual Christmas party on December 12th, and it was so wonderful! My host mom, the club president, organized the whole thing. It was quite the elegant affair, and a nice opportunity to talk to people from the club.

    Salzbrug Weekend

    RYE Austria hosted a Christmas weekend in Salzburg. We got to see the beautiful city, check out the Christmas Markets, and have a Christmas Dinner all together, where each country presented its traditions. Us Americans sang “Rudi the Red Nose Reindeer”, in honor of our wonderful Country Coordinator, Rudi. The weekend was so lovely, and probably one of my favorite trips.

    Last Day of School before Christmas

    I started off the day, by exchanging Christmas gifts with my friends. One got me an empty recipe book to fill with all of my favorite Austrian dishes. She wrote in the first one for me, one of my favorite Austrian desserts, Kaiserschmarrn. It was such a thoughtful gift. Being in a Catholic School, Christmas is way more festive here, than back at my public school in Florida. To start, we had a Christmas School Mass. Then, during one of the long, class breaks, my friend Regina took my hand and said “Come with me.” We all rushed to the main hall, where a concert by the music club was put on. They played instruments as we sang along to classic Austrian Christmas Carols. It was so sweet! During all of our other class breaks, we played Wham’s “Last Christmas” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” and sang to the songs at the top of our lungs. This was nothing new though, as we literally did this everyday of December. I think I could go the rest of my life without hearing this two songs… or maybe just until next December. To the end the day, we had our class Secret Santa and Christmas Party. It was such an amazing day, and I loved celebrating my school’s Christmas traditions.

    Christmas Day

    What a magical magical day! I woke up having absolutely no feelings towards it being Christmas, as I didn't feel that rush of knowing there were Christmas presents and filled stockings waiting under the tree for me… that’s because Christmas in Austria is celebrated on the evening of the 24th. I woke up and ate a normal breakfast and my brother opened the last window of the advent calendar and unwrapped the last little sack (it was filled with a chocolate Christkind for each kid). After breakfast I spent the rest of the day in an apartment downstairs with my other siblings baking Christmas cookies with my neighbor. Meanwhile my host parents were preparing the tree and wrapping the presents for all the children. My sisters helped a bit too. The only two people who weren’t allowed any part in the preparations were nay brother and me. This was because my brother still believes in Christkind and because my family wanted me to have an authentic Austrian Christmas as they remember it as children. After baking cookies I hurriedly finished wrapping presents for my family and threw on my dress just as my extended family arrived. The doors to the living room were closed. My family drank cocktails and ate appetizers when all of a sudden a bell was rung… Christkind had arrived! We opened the doors to the biggest and most beautiful Christmas tree I had ever laid eyes on. It was adorned with beautiful traditional ornaments, candles, and sparklers! The top branch reached the roof and was bent over. My host mom does a different themed tree every year, but said that this year she decided to go with traditional Austrian theme for me! I was so enthralled with this tree! We then sang a few songs and wished each other a Frohe Weihnachten. The presents laid in different piles for each kid and adult. After opening all of our gifts we ate a delicious dinner of home made Pumpkin Ravioli, Steaks, Salad, Potatoes, and of course the homemade Christmas cookies. We then spent the rest of the evening talking and enjoying each other’s company. After all the guests left, my host mom, older sister and I rushed to the city for a midnight mass. The music and church were so beautiful! Lots of students have doubts or worries about Christmas on Exchange because they are away from their family and miss out on their traditions back home. For me, it was one of the most magical Christmases I’ve had in a long time. Celebrating new traditions made Christmas feel new and mysterious, as it did for me as a kid. I will never forget the beautiful Christmas I celebrated with my host family!

    The Celebration Continues

    The next morning after Christmas we all went to my host aunt’s house for brunch. I got to meet a lot of extended Family on her side while eating some very delicious Prosciutto. The day after that I want to my Grandparent’s house for a late lunch. We ate a delicious meal and sang songs. This was really nice, as it extended the Christmas celebration a little longer.

    Trip to Weißensee

    A few days after Christmas, we headed to Weißensee, a beautiful lake in the mountains. First we stopped at my host-grandma’s house for the night, where we ate a traditional Austrian Christmas dish, Karpfenfisch (a baked fish). The next day we finished our road trip and arrived. The whole week was supposed to be devoted to winter sports: Cross-Country Skiing, Alpine Skiing, Ice-Skating, sledding, and snow-hikes. The forecast showed there to be tons of snow all over Austria… except in Kärnten, the state that we were in. The whole week there was practically no snow. Fortunately, they had the slopes groomed with snow for skiing, and the lake was completely frozen over, so we were still able to get in lots of ice-skating, and lots of skiing. In Austria, Skiing is a national sport. It’s their NFL. I, being from Florida, had practically no skiing experience. So, they enrolled my 7-year old brother and me in Ski-School, where I was surrounded by other young children. We hit those bunny slopes so hard that after three days of skiing, my little brother and I were pros. Ice-Skating, on a frozen lake was a first for me, and such a cool experience! On our first day, we ice skated two loops around the lake, and then skated up to a hut, where we drank warm punch and ate apple strudel. In the afternoon, we went on a hike. The next day my brother and I went to ski school in the morning, while my sisters skied, and in the afternoon we went hiking again. The rest of the week continued in that fashion, of hiking, skiing, and skating. Learning to ski, in a different language, and having no trouble understanding felt so gratifying! Not many can say they learned Alpine Skiing in the actual alps! I learned the terms for the technique in its original language. How cool is that? It was an amazing week filled with lots of activity and lots of delicious, Austrian food. Spending so much quality time with my family, doing the things they love, I definitely bonded with them. It was also so nice, because of how well my German is coming along. I had no problem knowing up with their jokes and stories and being able to make witty replies. I really feel apart of the family! I am so grateful to be in their household, and to experience Austria through their eyes.

    Back to School

    Initially I was hit with brick wall that going back to school always brings, but I soon got over it and got right back into the flow of thing. Since being back in these two weeks, I have survived one pop quiz, two final tests, and done three presentations, each in three different languages (Spanish, English, and German)! I’m also spending a lot of my time after school prepping for the Ball I open in just two weeks! Things are kind of crazy right now, but I’m glad. Being so busy is really helping me with homesickness, and forcing me to be more involved in the community. I have to go do my German Homework, so bis später Leute!

    Click HERE to read more about Maggie and all her blogs

  • Maggie, Outbound to Austria

    I have been in Austria for 100 days and its unglaublich (unbelievable)! As I am recounting all I’ve done for this blog, I am in shock of how many things I’ve done since being here. Looking at the next 100 days, it seems like such a long time, but my first 100 have gone by in a flash. I wanted to give whoever’s reading this a glimpse at my regular life. Because while it’s easy to just write about all the adventures I’ve been on, its my everyday life that has really defined my exchange thus far. And of course, I’ll write about the cool things I’ve done at the end.

    An average Day in the Exchange Life of Maggie Frantz

    So in my host family's household, breakfast is at 6:00 am sharp every weekday. At first, I was a little dismayed by this (I am used to rolling out of bed at 8:30, grabbing a smoothie to go, and leaving for school by 8:50 to get there before 9:20, when school starts.) but, I’ve grown accustomed to this routine and I really enjoy it…ok maybe I don’t really enjoy it, but I’m trying to. Breakfast is the time in our day where we can talk over plans, schedule, etc. We eat fruit, yogurt, granola and bread with jam and butter. At 7:00-ish, I leave for school. Some days after school I stay in the city and meet with friends, or do some shopping, and some days I go straight home for lunch. Once I’m home, I relax for a little bit, and then I straighten up my room or empty the dishwasher. I then work on homework or do some reading. Once my host parents come home, I spend all my time in the kitchen talking with them about the day, and helping my host mom with dinner. We all sit down to eat around 7:00. The rest of the evening is spent talking, reading, relaxing, etc. A new thing that's been added to my routine is that sometimes I read a children’s book out loud with my host mom. She asked if I wanted to start doing that to help with my pronunciation. It’s been so helpful. Evenings are my favorite time of day. I really enjoy spending time with my family and talking about the day. It’s also a great time to ask them about German. German is such a fascinating language, and sometimes we’ll have hour long discussions on different topics. Last month, we spent several nights discussing the differences between “Ich liebe dich” and “Ich habe dich lieb”. These are two different ways to say “I love you.” Essentially one means “I am really fond of you” and the other means “ I’m in love with you”, but it’s actually a lot more complex than that! Every person I’ve asked about it has said something different. I usually go to bed around 9:30. And then I wake up the next morning and repeat!

    An Average Weekend in the Exchange Life of Maggie Frantz

    So, my weekends here are a lot busier than they were at home, but I like it that way! On Saturday morning we have Lange Schlafen (Sleeping In) which means breakfast starts at 8:30-9:00 am. Then after that, my host mom goes grocery shopping. I usually go with her, and honestly it’s one of my favorite routines of exchange. I love seeing the different foods there and every week is a lesson from my host mom on the importance of buying organic produce. After we go grocery shopping we usually have some sort of plan for the day. One weekend its going to a Rotary sponsored Children’s Marionette Opera, and the next weekend its hosting family friends for the afternoon. Whatever we’re doing, I usually love it! On Saturday night, we typically watch a movie together. My favorite was “Im Weissen Rössl am Wolfgangsee”. Its a famous Austrian musical-comedy that I am determined to learn all the songs from. On Sunday we usually make an Ausflug. An Ausflug is Day Trip. We’ve gone on hikes, been to National parks, visited beautiful lakes, etc. I’ve really enjoyed all the new things I’ve experienced and new people I’ve met from the activities I’ve done on the weekends. On Sunday evenings, I’m usually doing homework, as I have German tutoring every Monday morning. 

    School and Extracurriculars

    So I go to a school called “Sacré Coeur” Privat Gymnasium. It is a private, catholic school in the inner city. I’m in the high school there, but it’s a grades K-12 school. It’s part of a group of “Sacred Heart” schools all over the world. I go there with my 12 year old sister. To get there I take the tram to my local train station, and then I take the S-Bahn (city train) into the inner city. I take 14 different subjects: Math, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Religion, History, Geography, Music, Art, P.E., Spanish, English, German, and Latin. School starts everyday at 8:00 am. Most days I get out at 1:40, but on Mondays I have a 4 hour break, and then return to school at 5:00 for two hours of P.E, and on Thursday I have a one hour break, and then get out of school at 3:25 after my chemistry lesson. There are 8 grades of Gymnasium in Austria. I am in the 6E class, which is a bilingual German-English class. Unlike American school, I spend the whole day with the same class in the same classroom. My class is made up of kids who are originally from Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, and of course, Austria (however they group in Austria). The age group is 15 and 16 year olds… I am 18. I couldn't be placed with kids my age, as there was no room in the older classes. At first, it was pretty hard for me to be in such a young class. I felt really out of place and disappointed with my situation. But I’m really grateful to be in the class I’m in now. I have really grown to love them and can honestly say that I have some really good friends! They’re really sweet, hilarious, and make sure I’m not completely lost. Some of them even took me to get a library card and showed me the book section for german learners. My class may be young (and a bit immature at times), but they’re also really fun and friendly. They’ve made me feel so welcome. My teachers have also been really helpful. My english teacher understood how I felt about being in such a young class, and offered to take me with her to her older classes. It’s a win-win for both! She gets a native speaker to help her, and I get to meet more kids my age… and skip some math and latin lessons. As of right now, my main focus after school is dancing. I am opening a Ball in January, which means I have to learn how to waltz! On Wednesdays, I go to Elmayer Dance School. It is the oldest and most traditional waltzing school in Vienna. All the kids from my class in school go. Additionally, my host mom arranged for me to have a few private lessons, so that I can learn the Linkswaltz (left Waltz) which is needed for the Opening Ceremony. Starting next week, I will also have my lessons with the other students opening the ball to learn the choreography.

    The Best city in the World

    I am in Vienna. It is the capital of Austria and the most beautiful and elegant city I've ever laid eyes on! Every corner is filled with history. I love the imperial palaces, the coffee shops, and beautiful, diverse architecture. I live in Floridsdorf, Vienna. It is over the Danube river and is kind of on the edge of Vienna. Floridsdorf is the 5th largest growing area in Austria. It’s very diverse part of Vienna and has people from all classes, backgrounds, etc. Floridsdorf is…very interesting. In the words of my host mom, “Floridsdorf is the place where you can wear pajamas on the street and no one will look at you twice.” (It should be noted that while this doesn't sound extreme to most Americans, when I told my school friends that kids wear pajamas to school during exam week, they couldn't believe it.) On my street, there is a store called “Pferdfleisch” which literally means horse meat. Apparently traditional goulash is made with it. Whenever I ask my mom about the “interesting aspects” of Floridsdorf she simply replies, “Because that’s just Floridsdorf, Maggie.” One thing I love about this area, though, is that it really only has locals. My family took me to a Gasthaus down the street from our apartment for dinner one time, and my mom was pointing out the customers, the waitress, and the menu. She was trying to explain to me the genuine nature of this place, and couldn't find the exact words. She simply smiled and ended with “This truly is Vienna, Maggie. You won’t find any tourists here. This is where we live.”

    The Cool Stuff I’ve Done 

    In September I had a hiking weekend with all the exchange students. It was a chance to check in with everyone now that school had started, as well as to meet our oldies (The exchange students who have beee here since January/February and leave this January.) I met my people. Two girls from Australia and a girl from New Zealand. They are the loveliest, most intelligent, interesting girls I’ve met and I am so heartbroken that they leave me in only two months. On the weekend we had a 6 hour hike and an evening walk complete with torches and Punsch (basically cider). In October we met again for Vienna Weekend. It was no huge thrill for me, as I live here, but seeing all my buds again was so great (and much needed). On Friday we saw an Operetta in the Volksoper (It was a 11/10!!) and on Saturday we toured around the city and went to Schönbrunn Palace. On the last weekend of October, I had another Rotary Trip. We went to Prague, Dresden, and Berlin. It was so cool! In each city we had a guided tour and then free time to explore the city. In Prague, I met up with my fellow OB from Florida and best pal Ryan Jones. It was so comforting to see a face from home. In Dresden my friends and I went to “The Old Masters Gallery” in Zwinger Palace where we saw beautiful and well know paintings such as “Sistine Madonna" by Raphael. In Berlin my friends and I visited the Jewish Museum. Two days after the Rotary City Tour, my family and I drove to Northern Italy and stayed for four days. It was a trip filled with beautiful churches, quality time with my host family, and delicious food of course! I had the best Tortellini in my life. While all these trips have been wonderful, I've found my more local experiences the coolest. Last month I went to a traditional dance fest with my host family. We were all decked out in Tracht (Traditional Austrian clothing) and danced traditional dances such as Polkas and Waltzes. I spent the night dancing with my host dad, little brother, and a few locals who asked me to dance. It was so cool! We’re going to another on December 21st and I am beyond thrilled. I’ve also really loved going to the Opera. Last month I saw Strauss’s “Elektra” with my host mom, and this past week I saw a Ballet called “Sylvia” with my host sister. The two productions could not have been more different in the themes, costumes, and music. Both were absolutely wonderful! Another cool opportunity I had, was celebrating my school’s 150th Anniversary. We had a celebratory mass in St. Stephan’s Cathedral or “Stephansdom”. This was really special and a big deal, as Stephansdom is the most famous church in Austria and age the heart of the city. It was such a great day to celebrate my school and spend time with my classmates outside of the classroom.

    Advice for the Future OBs

    In these upcoming weeks, you will find out your host countries. What an exciting time! The few weeks between finding out I got exchange and then finding out which country I’d be spending my year in felt like an eternity. Well, it came eventually, and then soon enough I was in Austria. Time has flown by! It feels like just yesterday that I was going through the application process. So please, for all the other exchange students regretting not learning more of their language beforehand, the second you find out your country, make a language plan and stick to it! Also hug your parents and dog and siblings as much as you can. You might be joking now that you're ready for that 10 month break already (okay maybe that was just me), but there are some days on your exchange when you feel like you'd sell your kidney for just one hug from your mom. Also please eat some Chick-Fil-A on behalf of all the current outbounds!!

    Click HERE to read more about Maggie and all her blogs

    Thats all for now. Until my next journal, Tschüss!

  • Maggie, Outbound to Austria

    Language Camp

    So in Austria all the Inbounds go to a Sprachkurs, or language camp for two weeks. It’s a time for the students to really learn german basics and to get to know each other. It was held at a boarding school on this beautiful lake called Traunsee. The first night we arrived, we were interviewed to determine which level class we should be in: beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Initially, I was put into the advanced class (A big thanks to D6970 for all the language prep)! However, after one day of that class I asked to be switched into intermediate. We were going over more advanced grammar in only german in the advanced class, and while I could keep up, I felt like it wasn’t going to be very beneficial for my progress. After a few days of being in the intermediate class, I knew I made a great decision. I was learning SO MUCH and building a really strong foundation for my language skills. Also, I really bonded with my teacher. Her name is Kathi and she went on exchange to Australia with RYE and now she is a middle school teacher. She was so helpful with questions about German and exchange! She used her vacation from teaching, to teach! Her service made a pretty big impact on me. Honestly, I am so grateful for the Rotexes involved with Rotary here in Austria and back home in Florida. I was so glad to have her as my Lehrerin (teacher)! My schedule everyday went as the following:

    Frühstück (Breakfast): 7:30

    Unterricht (classes): 8:15-11:30

    Mittagessen + Pause (Lunch and Break): 12:00

    Unterricht (More classes): 1:30-300

    Freizeit (Free time): 3:00-6:00

    Abendessen (Dinner): 6:00

    Unterricht (Study Hall): 8:00-9:00

    Licht Aus (Light‘s out): 10:00

    During my free time, I went swimming in Traunsee and to cafes with my friends. A lot of students weren’t thrilled about how much time we spent in class, but honestly it was my favorite part of camp! On the weekend, we had some really fun activities that Rotary provided for us. On Saturday we went on a really nice hike with a beautiful view! And on Sunday we went to the infamous Hallstatt. Hallstatt is this stunning Austrian town in Upper Austria. It’s also the first picture that pops up when you google Austria. In the morning we went into a prehistoric salt mine and went on-wait for it-Europe‘s longest underground slide! It was pretty cool guys. For lunch we picnicked on the mountain, and afterwards we hiked down. In the afternoon, we had time to ourselves to explore the beautiful town of Hallstatt. I had been looking forward to seeing this town for so long, and it did not disappoint! I think my favorite part of the day was going to and from Hallstatt. The view on the drive was sehr schön! While the first week felt like my entire exchange year, the second week flew by so fast! During the two weeks I was becoming very impatient with myself. I just wanted to be able to express myself in German. I wanted to speak freely in my host language. However, I didn’t realize how much German I was actually gaining. Things were slowly starting to sink in. By Saturday when my host mom and sister picked me up, we dove right into the German-and I was able to keep up. Of course they kept it pretty simple, but I was able to understand almost everything and reply! When I didn’t understand something, I would ask for them to clarify (In German) and they would find a simpler way to explain it (Also in German!). Later that day we had dinner with some family friends and I was able to keep up a whole conversation about politics, exchange, history, etc. with a really nice, older woman I had never met before. Was my german perfect? No. Not even close. I sounded like an American, attempting to speak another language-but I just went for it! I cared more about what I was saying and less about how I was saying it. While my two weeks of Sprachkurs taught me a lot grammatically, it mainly just gave me the confidence to speak a new language. I am so thankful to Rotary Austria for having this language camp for the Inbounds. It has really jumpstarted my language progress. I also want to thank RYE Florida and D6970 for all the training I was given. Every little thing I was taught or required to do, from the Research Paper to how to address Rotarians, was so helpful! In places where other exchange students were confused or struggling, I knew exactly what to do. Vielen Dank Rotary!

    Advice for future OB‘s to Austria:

    Focus- While language camp is about bonding with other exchange students and having fun, it is also a great opportunity to advance your language skills! When you’re in class pay attention!

    Ask questions- At school in America, it can be easy to just stay in the back and not ask questions. Usually if you don’t understand something, you can fake it till you make it; but here, you’re in a foreign country learning a foreign language! If you don’t understand when to use Akkusativ or Dativ, or how to conjugate Reflexive Verbs, just ask. You’re here for one year, and there’s just not enough time to be embarrassed over a "dumb question".

    It’s okay to ask for help- I’m a very independent person and I always hate asking for help. I guess I just don’t like being a burden. The thing is though, that you can’t figure everything out by yourself, especially on exchange! My dad once told me, "You will never get to know your neighbor if you don't ask to borrow a cup of sugar." And this is so true! Asking for help will not only clarify things for you, but also help you get to know more people on your exchange.

    Take advantage of your time now- You are going to hear it a billion times: Learn the language. Let this be the time that it sticks! I thought I did really well when it came to learning the language. I studied often, I could talk a little bit with german speakers. I learned how to sound like I knew German (to non-speakers), and it helped with Rotary training, but once I got here I was really lost! And with that being said...

    Learn vocab- When you get here, you will learn sentence structure and grammar, but the most important thing that you can learn now is vocabulary. Make flash cards, label things in your house, find sets on online, and make sure that when you learn the vocab, you learn the word, the article, and how to make it plural.

    Show some Gratitude- The teachers who are there for you are volunteering two weeks of their vacation to teach you german! Bring some Thank You stationery and some American candy. Learn how to say thank you in german! The first german word I was taught by RYE Florida was “Dankbar”. It means grateful. You can also show your gratitude through your actions. Always be on time, stay positive, and follow directions. Don’t be one of those stereotyped, “disrespectful, complaining Americans”. The people at this camp help determine if you can go on trips or not, or go to places on your own. How you behave in these two weeks will also affect how easy they will make it for you to travel.

    Well that’s all for now. Next week I start school in Austria! Bis Später Alligator!

    Click HERE to read more about Maggie and all her blogs

  • Maggie, Outbound to Austria

    Background on my exchange

    Before I go into all the details of my time here in Austria, let me tell you a little bit about my situation. So I am in the capitol: Vienna, Austria. As of now I live in Floridsorf in District 21. I live with a big family and have 3 siblings: my older sister Iduna (19), my younger sister Freia (12), and my brother Baldur (7). I also have a sister Rhea, (15) who is in New Mexico for her exchange.

    I really love my family dynamic. Back in Florida, I also have three siblings, but I am the second youngest. Now I am the second oldest! My family lives in a really beautiful apartment with a nice balcony, courtyard, and a lovely garden. Soon I will be attending a school called Sacré Coeur Privat Gymnasium. My younger sis also goes there.

    My First Week in Austria

    This week has been so amazing!  I feel like I’ve learned so many new things and have seen so much!


    I arrived in the Vienna International Airport at 12:05 pm. My host family was at the airport as well as my little sister’s best friend! My host mom gave me a huge hug and immediately made me feel so welcomed! We put my luggage in their car and drove home. Usually she takes a quick route home, however she wanted me to see the city, so we took a route that allowed me to get a glimpse at Downtown Vienna. My eyes got bigger and bigger with every corner we turned. We then came home and ate a snack. We had a pound cake and a delicious apple vanilla tart-both baked by my older sister! My host mom is a landscape architect so she is very creative. Our apartment is beautifully decorated and has plants everywhere. I love it! After we ate, I unpacked my luggage. While I was unpacking, my sisters asked me if I wanted to go swimming in the Danube River. The Danube is the second largest River in Europe and it flows through a lot of Central and Eastern Europe. Many locals here go swimming in it. There are many parts and channels of the Danube. The water felt so nice and it was such a pretty day.  Afterwards we went home, had dinner, and went over the schedule of the week and questions about exchange. It was a perfect first day!


    On Tuesday, my older sister took me into Downtown Vienna and showed me my school, my little brother’s school, her university, and a lot of the famous buildings in Vienna. She also took Baldur and me to her favorite Ice Cream place. I learned that Topfen is the German word for cream cheese. It’s my sister’s favorite Ice Cream flavor. She was explaining the flavor to me and once I understood, I interrupted “Oh, cream cheese!” She responded with “No! It’s definitely NOT cream cheese” When our ice cream came out, I took one bite and immediately recognized it as cream cheese. My host sister was an au pair in London for a year, and speaks fluent English, but in London they used the word Quark for cream cheese. When she heard cream cheese she imagined Feta or Cheddar. It was really interesting to compare the differences between Oxford English and American English.


    On Wednesday, I met one of my host grandpas for the first time. He might be one of the coolest people I have ever met! He is a historian and knows all the history about Vienna and Austria! He also has written a book about his own history and ancestry. As my host siblings’ Opa, he believes its his responsibility to teach his grandkids about the history, culture, art, and music of Vienna. He took my host brother, older sister and I to the Schatzkammer, or Imperial Treasury. We looked at beautiful crowns, capes, and jewels of the Hapsburg Dynasty. We even saw a very large Narwal Horn! Back in the day (The Holy Roman Empire), it was considered very rare and believed to have protective powers. We also drove around the city for a little bit, and he explained to me important buildings and history. He played for me famous classical music from Vienna, which I was a big fan of, and we talked over art, architecture, politics, music, etc. He only spoke a little English and I only spoke a little German, so we tried our best with both. It was a conversation full of hand gestures and pointing. But it was really nice, because it gave me the opportunity to practice my German! After our amazing morning, my siblings and I went home, took a quick nap, and went out for the afternoon. My sister took my little brother and I to an outdoor bath (it’s a pool) with the best view of Vienna! It’s called Krapfenwaldbad. Fun Fact: Krapfen translates to Donut Forest, but this pool is actually named after Franz Joseph Krapf.


    Thursday was very stressful. It was my first time traveling alone in the city and it did not go as smoothly as planned. I was invited by two girls from Australia who have been in Austria since January to hang out in the city. The night before, my host mom and sister helped me with directions and patiently explained how the public transport system worked. The next morning, I was feeling confident and ready to take on Vienna. As I walked to the tram near my house, I remember thinking “Wow, I’m gonna remember this as the first time I was able to go in the city alone.” False. I confused the S-Bahn for the U-Bahn (the S-bahn is a local train, and the U-bahn is the subway)! As I was leaving the station, the scenery around me looked so unfamiliar (Red Flag #1). With each stop I was getting more and more panicked. Also, did I mention at that point I didn’t have a phone plan? I was having serious trouble with getting a new sim card, so I went into Vienna alone, without a working phone, hoping I would find wifi along the way (Red Flag #2). So, I’m on the U6, realizing that I’m not where I’m supposed to be, and that I was supposed to be there 25 minutes ago. So, I stepped off the subway, and did the only thing I knew how to do: go back home. When I got to my home train station, I got wifi, called my friends, and explained to them what happened and that I was just gonna go home. Then I realized I had no idea what tram I was supposed to take home. I texted my sister, no reply. My other sister, no reply. Then I texted my host mom. She gave me instructions, but in German. I finally figured it out, and went home. When I arrived at my apartment, I pulled out my keys, and tried to unlock the door. (So a little side note about my apartment. I have three different doors I have to unlock and each are unlocked a different way.) I couldn't unlock the door! I was stuck in the street, and had no Wifi, so I couldn't tell my host mom that I was stuck outside. At this point I was ready to assume fetal position and let the tears flow but then my neighbor arrived and unlocked the door. I tried to go in with her and she said, “Um can I help you?” Ahhhh. It was so stressful. I was struggling to say in German that I was an exchange student and living with a family in the apartment building, but somehow she understood and let me in. Then, I got locked out at my second door. She tried to help and couldn't figure it out, so I borrowed her phone and called my host mom. My host mom called another neighbor who showed me how to do it. Once I was inside, I crashed on my bed and slept for two hours. It was a very emotional day. Fortunately, I was a able to laugh about it later with my host mom. In fact, as I am writing this, I can proudly say I have mastered public transport in Vienna.


    Friday was a MUCH MUCH better day. My host sister spontaneously took my brother and I to Schönbrunn Palace, where we walked around the gardens and had a wonderful lunch. We were going to tour inside the palace, however the tour was going to be too long, and we had to attend a Rotary Event that evening as a family. So instead, we went with my host brother’s choice of museum: The Vienna Natural History Museum. It wasn't as interesting to me as some of the other museums, but watching his face when he saw the Dinosaurs and Mammoths was so funny! His favorite animal in the museum is the Ostrich! That evening, I had my first Rotary Function. It was a dinner at one of the Rotarian’s house. She lives in a beautiful cottage outside of the city. It was really nice to meet everyone, however I couldn't understand much of the conversation. It was really good for me though, because it motivated me to want to learn the language!


    On Saturday, we left Vienna for Styria, to stay at my Host Grandma’s house. She has a gorgeous house in the country that she and my Host-Grandpa have been slowly restoring for the past 10 years. It was at her house, that I had my first schnitzel. Schnitzel is a very typical Austrian Dish and is a thin piece of meat that is fried and served with jam. It was SO delicious. Also, it had that grandma’s touch, that made it especially tasty. Honestly, I could eat schnitzel everyday. The rest of the day was spent swimming and taking a nice walk in the woods near their house. In Austria, there are plants, and herbs, and berries everywhere. We would stop in the forest and eat raspberries, and then pick up some mushrooms to cook at home, and then my host dad would show me a good plant that helps with head aches. It was so cool! Also, my host sister told my little brother Fairytales about witches on our walk, because the woods that we were in looked like the were straight out of Hansel and Gretel! It was a fairy tale day away from the city.


    Sunday morning, after we ate breakfast, we headed for Altmünster for my Rotary Language Camp. The drive to Altmünster was wunderschön! It was filled with mountains, lakes, and cute little villages. When we arrived, as my host parents dropped me off, I realized how lucky I am to be with the family that I’m in. As I said goodbye, my host dad gave me a bag of apples he had picked that morning at the country house. My host mom said “Maggie, if there is anything wrong, please call me. I am your mother now and I want you to be safe.” I knew she meant this more practically, but still. I was so touched! It was definitely bittersweet saying goodbye to them for two weeks.

    Well, that was my first and very eventful week of exchange! I learned so much, and fell in love with my new home! I am so excited for my year abroad! And with that, (to continue a tradition of last year’s OBs to Austria) I’d like to say: Bis Später Alligator!

    Advice for Future Outbounds to Austria:

    When you arrive, you will think that the biggest luxury in America is air conditioning, or tall drinks with lots of ice and free refills, or your queen bed! You are wrong. The biggest luxury back home is the ability to express yourself freely, without a language barrier. Being able to say exactly what you mean, without even thinking about it, is a privilege and something we take for granted. Sure your host fam might speak English, but being able to read an ad and understand it or know what your little host brother is saying is so gratifying! Also, if you're like me, a lot of your homesickness will stem from feeling isolated. Not being able to speak the language is a big part of this. What I’m trying to say is…Learn the language! Don’t put it off until summer. Don’t make false promises to yourself about how you will start tomorrow, or next week, or next semester! Now is the perfect time to start. There is so much time in the day that you can use to study your language. You can study on the school bus, during lunch, before bed, whenever! I promise, you will never, ever, ever say, “Wow, I wish I hadn’t studied German so much before I came.”

    Click HERE to read more about Maggie and all her blogs

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