The realization has hit my fellow classmates and I that our time in Vienna is unfortunately coming to a close.  With less than three weeks left, I’ve been determined lately to wrap up my remaining unfinished business in Vienna.  There’s so much to do, and so little time…

In the past two weeks, however, I accomplished a lot of things that I hadn’t done yet in Vienna.  My parents came for a week to Vienna, which gave me an excuse to do many of the touristy things I hadn’t done yet.  We spent a lot of time in Vienna’s Hofburg, which was home to the Habsburg Dynasty.  The Habsburgs were one of Europe’s longest running empires- for about 750 years from 1278 to the end of WWI.  They housed the Holy Roman Emperors for much of this time as well.  It was great to finally check out the Imperial Apartments, where Emperor Franz Joseph lived, as well as the Imperial Treasury (where a supposed shred of the wood from Jesus’ manger is, as well as Charlemagne’s crown) and other museums within the Hofburg complex.  We also were able to see a performance of the famous Vienna Boys Choir, as well as the Spanish Riding School!

My parents also arrived in Vienna just in time for the legendary Viennese Christmas markets.  Approximately 11 Christmas markets opened in Vienna throughout the week that my parents were here, and we hit six of them.  Not bad!!

It was really great having my parents here, and having someone to share this experience with in person.  This has easily been the greatest and most enlightening semester of my life, and I have gained so much perspective and knowledge from it.  But that gained perspective wouldn’t be important unless I could share it with others, so it was nice to have them here.

The beginning of Thanksgiving week was also kicked off to a great start with a phenomenal performance by the Concertgebouw Orchestra at the Musikverein.  The Concertgebouw Orchestra is consistently ranked as one of the world’s top orchestras and I can tell why.  It was one of the most musical performance I’ve heard given by an orchestra not only here in Vienna, but in my entire life.  It was absolutely phenomenal, and that performance will stick with me for a long, long time.

Thanksgiving may have been a bit different this year, but IES threw us a rather nice feast to compensate.  130 of us traveled to an 800 year-old Heurigen, one of the oldest in Austria.  Home-cooked turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and other typical thanksgiving food was all present as expected.  But it was actually a really neat experience to reflect with others who had been given this opportunity and celebrate our thanks with them.  I’m going to miss a lot of people here from IES.

While people at home were undoubtedly doing their Black Friday shopping, on Friday me and 50 other IES-ers drove 5 hours to Western Austria to ski in the Alps.  This was my first time skiing, so as you can imagine…it was a mixed set of experiences, haha.  I’ll admit that after the first day I was about ready to give up. My ankles, knees, bones, and back were in severe pain.  It was the first time in my life I can ever remember feeling old…haha.

However, one of my roommates here is a native of Colorado and gave me a heads up that the second day of skiing is much easier.  And he was completely correct.  My second day skiing was infinitely more successful, and totally made the trip worth it!! 🙂  With the occasional fall, I was having an awesome time.  I can see why people who have been skiing their entire lives LOVE it.

It should also go without saying that skiing in the Alps was ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS.  After skiing for a while, it was nice to sit down, look around, and remember that you’re in the Alps.  It provided such an amazing backdrop to the entire experience.