Willkommen in Österreich: The new home away from home


Dear Homebound Frannies, you know how a picture can never capture the real thing? Leading up to this semester, I kept seeing pictures of the Kartause: the chapel, the stairs, the yard, the creek jump. It is always different than the actual thing and it is still different than what you would expect.  

For example, I thought the entrance to the Kartause was on the other side of the Frannyfamous chapel and the bus would pass by it, perfect for photo and video opportunities. When I finally saw the chapel, the bus made a right into the parking lot and I realized that photo op was not going to happen; but that is about as disappointing as the Kartause gets. 

It kind of felt like freshman year all over again, except we supposedly had done that before. We do not know where anything is, we do not know what food is being served and we do not know what the classes will be like: a weird repeat in a different reality.  

Before coming to Gaming, I was told that the food was terrible, but so far, so good to me. No, it is not gourmet by any stretch of the imagination, but as my one friend said, as long as it is healthy, I do not mind! I was under the impression that it was going to be the same exact food at every meal, but they do change up the meals in the Mensa, although each meal is built around the same food groups: carbohydrates, meat and vegetables. I have been told that apparently there is a threeweek meal rotation and we have only been here for two. We will see how this goes! 

One thing we have been struggling with is the lack of sugary, fattening dessert in the Mensa. In Europe, fruit is the typical dessert, and as tasty and fresh as fruit can be, it still does not suffice for our American need for dessert. My friends and I have started making desserts out of different ingredients we find in the Mensa. One made a peach cobbler, another made a version of apple pie and another friend and I attempted what I like to call “Mensa Tiramisu.” It was a combination of a roll, yogurt, banana, sugar, chocolate, cinnamon and, of course, coffee. It was not tiramisu, but it was dessert! 

The most memorable part of orientation is the German. Maria Wolter, who holds a doctorate in philosophy, is halfAustrian and a native German-speaker even though she grew up in the United States. With a bright and energetic personality, she makes learning typical Catholic prayers in German enjoyable. There are a lot of elongated “o” and “u” sounds, especially with the umlaut, which are the two dots that sometimes appear above the vowels to make a different sound in the German language. As you can imagine, the “oooeee” sound in Österreich (Austria) has become an inside joke to all of us. 

The last bit of orientation was a precursor to our first school trip to Salzburg. We watched “The Sound of Music” by Rodgers and Hammerstein and there is nothing quite like watching “The Sound of Music” with a bunch of Frannies in the room. Everyone was singing! Even the guys sang Rolfe’s part in “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” That was the best experience of “The Sound of Music” I ever had in my life. 

Our first school trip had an early start, as the bus left in the wee hours of the morning before heading to Salzburg. It only takes around two hours to get there, but a lot was packed into the day trip. Mass was said in the Franciscan church which we had just learned about in art classalthough the church is mainly gothic, the front is Renaissance and the chapels surrounding the altar were later added in the baroque style. I was especially captivated by the altar and the depiction of Mary with baby Jesus and a garland of golden roses held by cherubim.  

As beautiful as the altar was, nothing can compare with God’s original artwork. A friend and I went to the castle on the top of the hill known as the Fortress Hohensalzburg. It housed Prince Archbishop Gebhard, who desperately did not want to be archbishop. We did not get to go into the actual museum, but the view from the terrace was amazing; the stretches of green and the sun setting behind the mountains was glorious! We took plenty of pictures, but it just does not capture the real thing. 

Hopefully, instead of phone photos, some day some of you will witness these views for yourself, if you have not already. Until then, auf wiedersehen!