Thursday, May 29, 2008


I feel as though there have been a lot of little things I've wanted to talk about, but I can't figure out how to group them. So here they are in the Misc. group! A couple of random events:

1. The other afternoon, Brent, Lama, Koon, Mike, 2 other girls and I went to Prater park for lunch. It was a wonderful afternoon to be outdoors! Later after class, we decided to hang closer to the institute, so we bought a bottle of cheap wine and did our homework at the Mozart park behind our building. Lots of fun!

Prater Park.

Celebrating their engagement with a bottle of wine at the park!

2. Wednesday night, Dr. Reisinger had a concert to organize and needed help with publicity. Koon and I (among others) told him we would help him pass out flyers on the streets, and he offered to pay us each 15 Euro! Yay money! It was well worth it, even though lots of Austrians stared at us. :)

The concert that we passed out flyers for (St. Peter's Cathedral). 

3. After Dr. Reisinger's concert, a bunch of people went to a place called the Sunken City. Basically, it's just a bunch of bars along the river. We brought the party though--everyone wanted to hang out by the American kids! It was definitely an adventure!

Some of our group dancing at the Sunken City.

4. Tonight (Thursday), we had our annual Vienna Summer School music concert. All of our host families were invited to listen to students play/sing, and then to a reception afterwards. Dr. Reisinger played a couple pieces on the organ, a girl named Emily played the violin, and three girls sang....including me! I got roped into it by both Dr. Reisinger and Doc. It was fine though, I sang "Du bist wie eine Blume", a piece from my Jr. Recital. It was a cool experience to be able to sing in a big church, I'm glad I did it. 
What was really cool though was Dr. Reisinger's improvisation. Earlier in the day, he had asked us to sing him our alma mater. We did, and he notated it on the spot. Then at the concert, he did a 10 minute improvisation on our alma mater, adding in aaaallllll the bells and whistles. It was probably the most amazing thing I've ever seen. Wow. I have a video of it, I'll try to upload it.
After the concert, I saw Dr. Reisinger through a window, and I mouthed "thank you" to him for accompanying me. He put his hands together and bowed, as if I was the amazing one. Ha! What a joke. He asked me if he could give me a couple voice lessons to improve my vibrato while I'm here. At first I was skeptical, but then I realized that I should take it as a compliment that he wants to work with me. Woohoo! I'm kind of nervous, but also excited to see what he has to say.

The church where the concert was held.

The girls with Edith and Helmut!

5. Tonight, Lama, Liz and I went to a heuligen with Helmut and Edith. They bought us strawberry wine, which was really good! The Hartmanns are great, I'm glad we got to hang out with them tonight. 

Our strawberry wine!

Beautiful view!

This weekend is Prague...I'll write about it on Monday!

Opera and Dead People

As most people know, I am a Vocal Music Ed. major at Hope. Therefore, coming to Vienna has been a wonderful experience for me, to say the least. This week held a couple of really fun and interesting musical events. 

On Monday, Dr. Reisinger (our music professor) took our class to the Central Cemetery, where many famous composers are buried. It is the second largest cemetery in Europe, and holds over 3 million people. We saw the tombstones of Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, J. Strauss, Schoenberg, Hugo Wolf, and a tribute to Mozart. The entire cemetery was incredibly beautiful, including the church at the end of the main road. All in all--fun field trip!

The tombstones of Beethoven, Mozart, and Schubert.

Front of the cemetery's church.

Tombstone of Arnold Schoenberg (known for 12-tone/modern music).

One of many streets through the cemetery.

On Tuesday night, a bunch of us decided to see the Verdi opera Falstaff at the Staatsoper. I can't say it was my favorite opera ever, but it was definitely fun! We waited in line for Standing Room tickets for about 90 minutes, which was a good idea since the tickets were only 2 Euro a piece (normal seats cost around 200 Euro...looks like we'll be standing at all of the shows we go to in Vienna!). The singers were all wonderful, of course, I just felt as though the plot was very slow-moving. At one point in Act 3, some nymphs come on stage to torment the character Falstaff. Mike, Brent, Lamade and I are standing in the lower balcony together watching this, when all of a sudden the "nymphs" come on stage in, no joke, KKK outfits. White coats with pointed hoods and masks. We all immediately looked at each other in utter shock! It was very confusing, yet also funny! Mike whispered to me, "only in Europe". 

Waiting in line for tickets!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


This past weekend, we went our first weekend trip during our six weeks in Europe--Salzburg! The city of Salzburg is probably one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen. It's set in the mountains, and is exactly what I have always pictured Austria to look like. 

We left for Salzburg on Friday afternoon after classes were over. Before arriving in Hallein (a small town outside Salzburg), we stopped by at Melk Abbey, a former monastery. It was truly amazing, especially the church. 

Melk Abbey from a distance.

The front of Melk Abbey's church.

When we finally reached our hotel, we put down our stuff and headed out to find the town. Most of the group stayed together, since we were told about a great outdoor champagne bar. Luckily, we found it pretty quickly, and all sat down for a glass of wine. At first, the locals looked skeptical about the American kids, but after awhile of talking with us, they had a good time. One guy even bought our table a bottle of wine! It was a fun night.

Saturday was a lot of fun, too. We spent the morning touring the city and the fortress, and explored during the afternoon. Michael and I accidently got separated from our friends for lunch, so we decided to go find food on our own. We went to a nearby Billa (grocery store), got some sandwiches, and sat along the river bank. It was a great lunch with great company! On our way back to our hotel, we stopped by Hellbrunn, a water palace. The emperor (not sure if that's right) that once lived there had a quirky sense of humor, and put water traps all throughout his house. It was a perfect day to get soaked, since it was so hot outside. We had a lot of laughs, too!

The view from the fortress!

The river where Michael and I ate lunch.

The Sound of Music gazebo at Hellbrunn/Michael showing his love for the movie.

Sunday, we visited two extremes. First, we took a tour of the Salt Mines. We got to wear these white jumpsuits, and take a train down into the ground. We even got to go down a couple of slides to get closer to the salt. We all enjoyed doing something different, since we've been doing a lot of city tours recently. Then, on our way back to Vienna, we stopped at Mauthausen, one of the concentration camps during WWII. The entire area was surrounded by sadness--it was a truly sobering experience.

Sweet jumpsuits.

One of many pictures from Mauthausen.

One more important thing happened this weekend. As many of you may already know, two of my closest friends, Caitlin Lamade and Brent Boersma, got engaged!! Of course I am very happy for them, and I can't wait to attend their wedding in 2009. I would tell you the story of their engagement, but I think it would be better to just hear Caitlin's account of it. 

About 10 seconds after everyone found out they got engaged.

Overall, Salzburg was wonderful! I'm really hoping I love the rest of my weekend trips as much as I loved this one. Next weekend--Prague! :)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

First Full Week

Whew! It's been a long weekend. I'm sitting on my bed right now at my host home, wondering if I should update or go to bed. I think if I wait any longer though, it just won't happen. There are so many things I haven't explained yet...I doubt I'll ever get to all of it.

I think I should start by just summing up last week. Beginning on Monday, we had our first classes at the Institute. I am taking "Viennese Musical Traditions" with Professor Wolfgang Reisinger, who is the overseer of church music in Vienna. In other words, he's the best organist in the music capital of the world. Whoa. Talk about being musically intimidating! He's pretty sweet though--he has an interesting personality, sometimes funny and sometimes just genius. I'll put up a picture of him the next time I take one. Anyways, on Mondays and Fridays, our music class meets from 9:30am-12:00pm. On Tuesdays-Thursdays, we meet from 2:30pm-5pm, but everyone else from the program still has class in the morning. Kind of a downside to the music class, but oh well. Only 10 more days....yikes!

Here is a picture of Dr. Reisinger playing the organ for our class.

So on Monday we had class at the Institute for the first time, like I was saying. I didn't realize quite how small the Institute was until I spent some time up only has about 6 rooms and an office. Not bad though, just the right amount of space for us. When class was over, a group went to a nearby deli for lunch, and we learned first hand how difficult the English/German language barrier can be. Luckily, next time I will know how to order so that won't happen again. We spent most of Monday afternoon after lunch wandering around town, and ended up finding a great bar called Kolar later in the night where we had strawberry wine. It was great, and the atmosphere was exactly what we were looking for.

On Tuesday, our music class took a trip to go see Mozart's apartment downtown Vienna. We walked through the museum as a class instead of meeting at the Institute. I enjoyed listening to the audio guides and seeing some of Mozart's original manuscripts, but I also felt as though a lot of the museum didn't have to do with Mozart but with the history at the time. Nevertheless, good field trip.

Original "Dies Irae" from Mozart's "Requiem"

The outside of Mozart's apartment in Vienna.

Wednesday didn't hold much excitement besides a wonderful afternoon with Michael. We realized that we hadn't spent much time together, so we decided to get dinner just the two of us. We went to an Italian restaurant on the Kartnerstrasse (main shopping street), and then headed down to Julius Meinl for coffee. It was absolutely wonderful--Michael was in heaven. :) We had a lot of fun together, and enjoyed finding a spot for later drink dates.

Thursday was a very interesting day. Earlier in the week, a sign had gone up on our group bulletin board about a makeover session that was going to be held at the Institute. The stylist did not put down their name, but said that haircuts would be free and given by a professional. So at 4pm, most of our group showed up in room 5 for the makeovers, only to find the music professor, Dr. Reisinger, standing there with a mirror already set up. Surprise! Dr. Reisinger, professional organist and overseer of church music, is also a professional hair stylist! We all got a few laughs out of that! For the next couple hours, Reisinger gave haircuts and consultations. It was a ton of fun to watch and to see what girls looked like before and after. Lamade was one of the people that cut her hair, so that was especially exciting. 

In the middle of Lamade's haircut!

Later in the night, about half of our group went to go see "The Sound of Music" at the Volksoper. Sadly, Michael and I didn't get tickets in time, so we were on our own again. Just as we were about to leave the Institute, a group of girls asked us if we wanted to join them for dinner. We decided to go with them so that we could spend time getting to know some other people on the trip. The six of us headed out to the 19th district, and we took a bus up to the highest point of the city. It was beautiful! When we had finished taking pictures, we headed back down to a wine cafe for dinner. I ordered a gold-medal winner Riesling, which was very tasty. We had a great time talking over good food and wine--it was definitely one of the better nights. 

The view from the top!

And of course...Friday, we drove to Salzburg. I have soooo much to say about Salzburg. It was amazing. I think I'm going to get some sleep now though, and write more about that tomorrow. I will also put my pictures on my computer so that you can see what I'm talking about in this post. Salzburg info coming soon! 

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Sadly, this past Sunday was the only Sunday we will have in Vienna during our 6 weeks here. This Sunday made up for that nonetheless. My roommates and I woke up early to make High Mass at Augustinakirche, where the orchestra and church choir were performing Schubert's Mass in B Major. It was an amazing experience, even though everything was spoken in German.

Front of the church

Back of the church--balcony where the orchestra/choir/organist sat.

We went out to the 19th district after Mass today for our opening lunch with the entire group. We ate at a heuliger, which is sort of like a wine cafe, and the food was wonderful. It was nice to get away from the downtown area today and enjoy a more scenic part of town.

The dark yellow building is where we ate lunch.

When lunch ended, the rain began. Lamade, Koon and I decided the smartest thing would be for us to go home for the night. As soon as we walked in the door, Helmut and Edith wanted to know what we had done during the day. We told them about how we were tired and wanted to spend the night at home, and they asked us if we wanted to hang out with them! Of course we said yes, and so the five of us played card games all night. While we were playing, they made us deal the cards while counting the German numbers outloud--it was very helpful! When Liz came home a little bit later, they opened a bottle of champagne (made in Vienna--amazingly good) and we made a toast to the beginning of fun! :) It was a great night indoors. 

Clearly, I am a little bit behind since I'm posting about Sunday on Thursday. Time is just very limited! Tomorrow I will be going to Salzburg...more updates beginning on Monday!


Saturday was our first full day in Vienna, and already Dr. Hemenway had a lot planned for us. Since we needed to be at the institute by 9:30am, we decided in order to make it to the flea market (a reccomendation by Doc) we would need to leave the house at 7am. I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, but the Hartmann's live in the 23rd district of Vienna--in other words, out a ways.

We were of course nervous about taking the U-bahn into the city by ourselves, but before we could even think about what we were going to do, Helmut offered to ride the trains with us. So Saturday morning at 6:30am, the four of us plus Helmut and Edith ate a wonderful breakfast of sweet bread, homemade jams, cheese, meat, granola, yogurt, cake, coffee, juice, and cornflakes together and we left for the bus station. Helmut helped us get into the city by 8am, and then he turned around to go back home. What a sweet man, it was a huge relief to have him with us since our commute can be confusing sometimes.

The flea market was cool, but nothing out of the ordinary. I bought a great scarf for 5 Euro so that I can blend in with the popular European trend. When we were finished looking around, we left for the instutite. At 9:30am, the Art and Architecture professor, Dr. O., led our group on a walking tour of the city. She knows so much about the city and was able to give us a ton of information--we all enjoyed it a lot. Then we went to see Schonbrunn Palace around 1pm, which was absolutely amazing. The gardens are open to the public daily, so I'm sure we will return there later in the summer.

The flea market where I bought my scarf. Take note of the decorative flowers on the building in the background!

Some of us at Schonbrunn

When both of these events were over, the girls and I decided to head home for a nap before our evening concert. Sadly, since we had never been back to the house alone before, we got lost on the busses. We accidently took the wrong path out of Schonbrunn, and then got on a bus going the opposite direction of our house. Almost 90 minutes later when we reached home, we realized naps were out of the question. We quickly changed clothes, and headed back for Vienna.

In the evening, we went to see Monteverdi's "Vespro della Beata Virgine" at St. Stephen's Cathedral. Even though we had bad seats, the music was amazing. It fit the scenario perfectly, and the sound beautifully filled each space in the open ceiling. Sadly, there was an older man sitting directly behind me and Michael who fell asleep and was having trouble holding in his gasses. Unfortunately for him, they would slip out at breaks in the music, causing all of the Hope students sitting around him to burst out in silent laughter. It was definitley a story to remember!

St. Stephan's Cathedral

After a long day's tour--in front of the Staatsoper.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Meeting the Hartmanns

I'm pretty sure meeting our host family was one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking experiences I've ever had overseas. We arrived at the Austro-American Institute of Education in Vienna on Friday around 2pm, and had one hour to walk around and explore before our host families came to meet us. 

After walking around the block a few times, Caitlin, Sarah, and I returned to the Institute to find a man there waiting for us. My first thought about Herr Hartmann (Helmut)--not what I had expected! I expected him to be big with reddish hair and a large mustache, dressed in suspenders and checkered pants. Instead, he was wearing a yellow polo shirt and jeans, sunglasses, and had buzzed gray hair (no mustache). The only thing that met my expectations was his size--he loves to eat chocolate, which I have learned by experience. :)
At first he was quieter with us, but he opened up quickly once we reached the car. He drove us all around the city on the way home, and told us about each monument he drove us by. His English is great, which helps us out a lot.

When we got to his house in the 23rd district, we met his wife Edith (ee-dit). She immediately spoke English to us, and invited us for drinks on their roof porch. There we had spritzers (half white wine, half sparkling water) and got to know each other. It was wonderful! We then moved into our rooms (we all have our own), and left to go on a driving tour of the city. Helmut and Edith took us to the Castle of Liechtenstein, which was very interesting, and then to a couple of gothic churches in the country. It was a lot of fun to drive around with them--they were wonderful tour guides and great hikers.

The Castle of Liechtenstein (Helmut in foreground).

A statue of one of the saints in a nearby town.

A great view of a couple disconnected buildings.

One of the gothic churches.

When we returned home from our excursion later that night, Edith fixed us wiener schnitzel and fried rice. She made it "Parisian" style, using turkey breast filets rather than the traditional veal. It was good, but very heavy. She then brought out homemade berry cake--delicious. We can all say after this afternoon & evening that it is clear Helmut and Edith are going to spoil us. :)

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Hello everyone!

It has taken me far too long to find and receive internet--now that I have it, let's not waste any time. 

On Tuesday afternoon, four of my great friends and I (among 60 other students) took one Austrian Air flight to Vienna. Our flight was relatively smooth, and our excitement helped to keep the boredom down. The flight attendants (woman in red) were extremely nice, and gave us each a free glass of wine to drink with dinner--only in Europe!
As soon as we arrived, we took a bus to Morbisch, a small town about an hour east of Vienna. The reason for this weekend trip was for orientation purposes--we spent some time talking about what to expect from our host families, how to say simple German phrases, and we even had our first two classes in the hotel. 

Though it was great to meet all the other students, the town itself was mostly empty. Since most of the residents of Morbisch commute to Vienna, the city becomes desolate during the day, and most of the shops and restaurants close down by 5pm. We kept ourselves busy with a night boat cruise, a walk down the road to the Hungarian border, and lots of eating. 

Along the road towards Hungary--lots of vineyards!
Our hotel.
Morbisch is known for its cranes.
Michael and I on our boat cruise.

More tomorrow!

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Long before there was this day
another day came. Maybe it rained
of there was a little sunlight. People

got up and did what they always do.
Birds sang and the cats wanted out,
or in. You and I weren't here,

but the world didn't know. Trees
grew and nobody noticed. Someone
was cruel. Someone else

tried not to be. Maybe the weather
shifted unexpectedly and plans
had to be changed. This morning

we watched our day begin. We
wondered if it would be good,
wondered if it would rain.

-Jack Ridl, Living in the 21st Century