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!