Sorry it’s been so long since my last post, but it has been quite busy the last few weeks! I want first to tell you about my classes here, since I am well into the semester now. While the system is definitely different from that at home, I quickly adjusted to the one-lecture-a-week schedule and realized how important it is to keep up with the online schedule, as it does change quite often. While unintentional, it really ensures the students are active in checking their online accounts and emails for important information.

Another thing that caught me off guard within the first few classes was the manner in which students ask questions. Instead of raising their hand, it is practice to knock on the desk. Most of the Americans jumped the first time this happened, much to the amusement of the Austrians sitting around us. Similarly, after each class the students knock their knuckles on the desk as a way to thank the professor for his time. I thought it was very neat! Now it is just natural to do so, and I fear I may end up knocking on the desks back at Mines next fall.

Making friends with the Austrians in my classes was not hard; they are all very friendly and were willing to help out myself and the other lost Americans when we started the semester having absolutely no idea where our next class was going to be. Knowing a few of the local students here was also very helpful when studying for the two tests we had last week, as they knew how tests here are generally structured and how best to study for them. The semester is really flying by! With only a few more weeks until Easter break, and then only a month left after that until I have to head back to the states for my summer internship, my departure date is sneaking up on me!

An old one person chair lift we rode at the favorite local resort!

An old one-person chair lift we rode at the favorite local resort

�Aside from hanging out with the locals in a school atmosphere, I have also participated in a few of the locals� favorite pastimes. Some classmates invited me to go skiing with them, noting that it was a favorite sport of theirs (something very similar to home, I must say). I accepted not only because I love to ski, but also because I wanted to see if there was any difference between the skiing atmosphere here in Austria and that in Colorado. I quickly found out that other than a huge language barrier with most of the lift operators at the small, local resort we went to, there was not much difference. So, I spent the day getting to know my new friends on the chairlift up and playing various ski games on the way down the slope. Very fun experience!

Another favorite sport with the male students here is rugby. While I did not partake myself, I watched the practices and games that some of the other international students participated in with some fellow students from our petroleum classes. I know from the states that songs and chants are a must in the rugby world, but the Austrian way, in my opinion, takes it to a whole new level. Even just this small school team has years of traditions, songs and rituals performed before and after the games. It was very cool to watch and learn about!

In addition to interacting with the locals, I can now find my way around town without a map, pay at the grocery store without looking completely incompetent, and even greet those working in stores to the point that they start speaking in German with me after. Of course, they quickly realize my German vocabulary is very limited, and they generally just laugh, appreciating my effort to speak in their native tongue. I also quickly realized that there are many �German� words that are different here in Austria (I will make a full list of the common ones once I have learned more of them).

I love how polite and friendly people are here. It is common courtesy to greet anyone who walks into the store, restaurant and even the locker room at the gym! Of course, it is also tradition that you say some sort of good-bye when leaving any goods or service store.

So far I am loving my time here, and have gotten used to the culture very quickly! I am also excited to continue my studies in German class, so maybe I will not be quite as lost when people start speaking to me.

So for now�

Tsch�ss! Ba ba!