I am officially within grasp of the end of the 3 week Intensive German portion of my study abroad program!  I completed my oral final today and at 12pm tomorrow, I will have successfully finished phase 1 of studying abroad.  Directly afterwards, at 1pm tomorrow, I embark on Phase 2- exploring outside of Vienna’s borders.

At 1pm tomorrow, I leave with approximately 40 other IES students who will be traveling by bus to Budapest, Prague, and Krakow on a 10 day excursion further eastwards into Europe. Although the full itinerary is still a work in progress, I am beyond excited to visit these 3 iconic cities.  To top the list of things I’m excited for during this trip is a visit to Auschwitz.  Some may question my excitement for this, but I’m looking forward to have the experience- which is sure to be a sullen, yet sobering visit- of witnessing an actual Concentration Camp myself.  After being berated with information about World War II since early middle school, I think it’s an important experience for everyone to undergo at some point within their lives.  Thus, I am excited to undergo this emotional visit.

This week was, overall, a very good one.  My IU trombone professor, Peter Ellefson, arrived with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra last Sunday, and Ross and I were able to meet up and have dinner with him here in Vienna.  Monday and Tuesday night were dedicated to seeing the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s performances in the Musikverein, one of Vienna’s premiere concert halls- and in some musicians’ opinions, the world’s BEST concert hall.  The orchestra gave two different performances, night 1 consisting of: a piece by Bernard Rans (composer of IU’s original opera, Vincent), Death and Transfiguration by Strauss, and Shostakovich 5!  Night 2 consisted of Hindemith’s Symphony in E-flat and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.

To continue with the positive note, I am recovering very quickly from being sick for the last 2 weeks with the help of 74 Euros worth of antibiotics.  My reason for communicating this is to express that even though European drugs are expensive, they certainly do not dick around.  I felt better within hours of taking the first dosage.  Crazy.

Anyway, feel free to enjoy these picture as I take off from Vienna for the next 10 days.  Wish me safe travels!