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!

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