Guten Tag Graz!

Greetings from my new home for the next 6 months! That’s right… I finally made it to Graz, Austria for my semester abroad.

I arrived in Vienna, Austria on January 31st, and along with my travel companions (who also attend OU), stayed in a hostel called “Wombats” for two nights. My traveling buddies are two wonderful ladies named Lauren and Abigail (but she goes by Abbey). Lauren is also my roommate for the semester.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of Vienna due to traveling fatigue and, we must admit, a bit of shock (and awe). Therefore, I have made it a goal to make it back sometime this semester, because Vienna is a beautiful city.

So far, I am completely enamored by Graz. I love the Innenstadt (inner city), with it’s beautiful old architecture and colorful streets. I love the hustle and bustle of public transport centers, specifically one of my favorite places, Jakominiplatz. At night, Jakominiplatz is lit up so much that the first time I witnessed it, I thought I was indoors… It’s a difficult phenomenon to explain, but it stunned me.

My flat is a bit of a trek from the Innenstadt, but that’s perfectly fine with me, because I enjoy the backdrop of hills and mountains away from the city. My building even has a beautiful rooftop terrace, and I’m sure I’ll be spending a lot of time up there over the course of the semester. And even though I live away from the city center, Graz has a wonderful series of trams and buses to get you close to wherever you need to go. I love public transportation!

That being said, I’ve still done quite a bit of walking. On one of my first days here, a friend of my roommate took myself and my companions on a grand walking tour through the city. Our tour guide, Tina, is a fantastic human being who lives in Graz as an American missionary. She is talkative and friendly, and was the perfect person to introduce us to our new home. I will be forever grateful for her hospitality. Tina is also pregnant, and her baby is due in June. I hope we get to meet them before we head back home.

In the middle of the city of Graz lies a small mountain known as the Schloβberg. To get to the top, you climb the stairs that crisscross up the small mountain side. You can also pay about €2 to ride the elevator—Graz is very accessible to people with disabilities, which is something I would like to address at some point, although maybe in a different post. Anyhow, at the top of the Schloβberg is a giant structure with a clock on the side, called the Uhrturm. It looks over the entire city, and it is the symbol of Graz.

The view of the entire city of Graz from the top of the Schloßberg is astonishing and beautiful. The valley that Graz is situated in, as well as the river Mur that cuts through the middle of the city, make for a perfectly charming sight. You can also see the strangely shaped Kunsthaus (art museum), which is a dark navy blue blob that contrasts wonderfully with the surrounding red Austrian rooftops. Another iconic view in Graz is the Hauptplatz (main square), which frames the beautiful architecture of the Rathaus (town hall). I enjoy this city so much.

We started our pre-semester Intensive German courses this week. For the next three and a half weeks, I’ll have class from 9:00 to 12:30 every day. Unfortunately, I only tested into the A2/2 class, which is one level lower than I hoped I would be in. Thankfully, the class only lasts one month and then I move on to the next level (B1/1) when the actual semester starts, so it will still be good review.

The real semester begins on March 6th, and we have yet to enroll for classes, but I don’t mind. I like that we get to acquaint ourselves with our new home before full-time student-ing starts.

The weather has been much different from the weather at home, and so far I have been enjoying the cold air. We usually wear heavy jackets, as do all of the locals, and the weather hovers between 30 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s somewhat dark and gray at the moment, but spring time is just around the corner!

Until next time, Auf Wiedersehen!