Studying in Melk, Austria
During the 2013-14 academic year, five our our students will be studying in Melk, Austria for the full year. Below are just a couple of their monthly updates about their experiences. We encourage you to read ParentTALK, the school's monthly newsletter, to see additional updates throughout the year.
On August 27th, our five lives were flipped upside-down. We were embarking on the journey of a life-time and each one of us was filled with excitement, apprehension, and the pride of having been entrusted to continue the rich tradition of the Melk exchange program. As we said our final goodbyes, tears ran down almost everyone’s faces and our stomachs fluttered with butterflies. I can speak for all of us when I say that moments of major doubt about our abilities and our current reality began to hit us. The idea of spending nine months in one of the most beautiful place in the world, thousands of miles away from home, had not yet sunk in. Nevertheless, we didn’t cry or falter in our step, but continued on, ready to experience the world.
We arrived in Austria late the following night after an exhausting and frustrating journey. Accompanied by our group leader, Herr Riegler, we piled into the “Ami’s”* van and he drove us to our homes. As we stopped at each student’s home, those of us left in the van muttered a feeble “Good Luck,” knowing that it would soon be our turn to be taken away from all that we knew. Our host families were waiting for us with open arms and big smiles. We have now been in Austria for two days but it already feels very comfortable and almost like home. School, in the Stift Gymnasium Melk, begins on Monday (September 2nd), and we have never been more excited to begin classes. Although it won’t always be fun or easy, the idea of studying in and being able to experience such an amazing place full of kind, friendly, and happy people is enticing!
*”Ami” is the Austrians’ nickname for the Saint John’s Americans.
The last month has been full of “new’s”; new people, new places, new experiences, and a new language. Even though new can be scary, each and every “new” that we have experienced has been fantastic. After one month, the five of us have settled into our homes, families, and routines. We have adjusted to the school curriculum and all of our classes, and we have begun our wonderful excursions throughout Austria.
Only two weeks after arriving, we went on our first afternoon excursion. We drove to the Wachau Valley, the valley in between the town of Melk and Krems, and went to the beautiful ruins of Aggstein. We visited the towns of Spitz and Durnstein, and then rode a Danube River boat back to Melk. Our most recent excursion was one to Vienna. The five of us, along with our program director, spent an entire weekend in Vienna. The greatest amount of our time was spent sight-seeing. We went to some of Vienna’s most renowned sights, such as: St. Stephens Cathedral, the Hofburg Palace, the Belvedere Palace, Schönbrunn, and many others. Besides the cite seeing, we had free time to explore the city on our own, walked until we could not walk any more, and learned about the history of Austria. It was an absolutely amazing time! It is still mind-blowing to think that this is not a vacation, but rather a time to learn, experience new things, and grow into mature young adults. Our time is already going quickly and we cannot wait to see what the next eight months has in store for us!