As the rest of my study abroad group flew home to the United States, I was lucky enough to stay a few extra weeks to tour around Austria and Germany with my family. Our vacation started in Salzburg, where I was able to show my family all of my favorite things in the city. After our stay in Salzburg, we traveled to Vienna, Austria and to Munich, Germany. Now that my trip is finally coming to a close, I find it more difficult to say goodbye. After all, the most bittersweet part of a great adventure is the end.
But even though my trip is almost over, I feel blessed having experienced such an incredible journey. This trip gave me a chance to immerse myself in Austrian and German culture and changed my perspective of the world. After six eye-opening weeks, I feel more confident in myself and I have found a deeper appreciation for life. The week that my family arrived in Austria, we received a call saying my grandmother had passed away. As difficult as it was to not be at home during this time, I felt comfort knowing she was finally at peace and my family and I were together. We honored her extraordinary life in the beautiful cities of Salzburg, Vienna, and Munich.
Our family trip started with a cable car ride and a hike to the top of Untersberg. When I did this excursion with our study abroad group, I fell in love with the views and the fresh mountain air. Untersberg was the one place I absolutely needed my family to see. The cross at the top of the mountain reads im Kreuz ist Heil – “in the cross there is salvation.” It was important to me for my family to see this cross surrounded by the beautiful views of the Austria/Germany border.
My family complained the whole way up, just as I had two weeks prior. But when we finally made it to the top and they got a chance to look out over Germany to one side and Austria to the other, they had the same magic in their eyes that I did. We took a moment to take in the beauty of the landscape and catch our breath. My sister and I took a picture standing on the highest point of Untersberg – this will remain one of my favorite pictures from my trip.
I looked over Salzburg and felt blessed. From the Festung Castle, to The Sound of Music house, and back to the American International School where I studied, I have never been more thankful for the life I get to live. Being fortunate enough to travel to such a beautiful city with my classmates and my family has been the experience of a lifetime. I will hold Salzburg in a special place in my heart forever.
Traveling through Vienna, I took my family back to my favorite church. St. Peter’s was a small, gloriously decorated church on one of the main streets of old town Vienna. It is small compared to the massive Cathedral holding center stage, but it rivals in beauty. As we stepped into the church, the organs were ringing and the sun was shining through the clouded windows. The moment felt almost surreal, and I watched as my sister’s eyes lit up and my mom’s jaw dropped wide open. I took a moment to say a small prayer to my Grandy and a bittersweet goodbye to Austria.
Our study abroad group opted not to travel to Munich. Lucky for me, my family couldn’t pass up the world-renowned biergartens and hand-crafted wooden figurines of Germany. When we arrived in Munich, we went straight to the Hofbrauhaus. In less than an hour, I was full of delicious beer and giant soft pretzels with a big smile on my face. As our family clinked our steins together and chanted Prost, I remembered my first night in Salzburg. Our group went to the Augustiner Braustubl and had a cheerful night in the outdoor biergarten. We watched as Austrians drank liters upon liters of beer, and we took notes on how it’s done. These are some of the memories that will stay with me forever: the smell of the roasted chicken mixed with cigarettes, the taste of the marzen beer, and the sound of the clinking mugs with an Austrian Prost!
Raising a liter of beer with my family wouldn’t have been possible without my interest in the Salzburg program. I am so thankful for the opportunities this program presented me with, and Salzburg will forever be a special place to me. To say goodbye to a place like Salzburg requires more than simply speaking the words; it’s the acknowledgment and appreciation of this extraordinary experience that makes this goodbye so special, yet so difficult. As I say Auf Wiedersehen to Austria and Germany, I will reminisce in the brilliance of my journey and the absolute blessing it was to be here.
In loving memory of Jeanne Anderson Bovard. 09-25-1937 ~ 07-03-2018