Nearing The End

I just spent my last weekend in Vienna in who knows how long. Now that I can count the days down on one hand it’s so hard to imagine myself being in Canada. I honestly, no matter how hard I try, can’t imagine the morning that I get on that airplane for Frankfurt, then Calgary. I just can’t wrap my head around it in any way.

The thing with exchange is that we finally get settled in a place, fall in love with it, and then we are forced to return home, and we know that no matter when we come back to our host country it will never be the same. The other exchangers wont be here, and it will all just be different.

Leaving Canada last summer was a hard thing to do at the time, but I knew I’d be home a year later. Now I’m leaving once again from my home, just this time it’s in Austria for a country that is both familiar and foreign at the same time. I’m fluent in the language in Canada, I have lived there for years, and know the country well, yet now I’m Austrian in a sense. What will be different in Canada? The same? I have no idea when I’ll ever be back to Austria. Leaving this time will be many times harder than leaving Canada was. I know it.

I’ve done so much this year. Leant so much. Seen so much. Met so many awesome people. This year is undesirable to anyone but the other exchangers. Mainly the ones who spent their years in Austria as well. I’d change nothing this year if I had the chance. Everything has been amazing.

Exchange is the experience of a lifetime. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

Euro Tour!

It’s been just over a month now since my last update. For the last three weeks (May 11-June 2) I’ve been traveling around Europe with 85 other exchange students living in Austria and Croatia.

On May 11th I went to Linz and stayed with two friends until the Euro Tour started on the 15th. One of these days I went to Mauthausen which is a former concentration camp. I’ve never been to one before, and I have to stay they kind of wreck your day.

On the 15th all of the exchangers going on the Euro Tour met up at the train station in Linz. We loaded the buses and started on our way up to Prague. In Prague we had a guided city tour with a Czech guide in German. He has a very bad accent in German and was really hard to understand, but it was alright because I’d already seen everything that the tour went to.

The next day we headed off to Dresden and Cologne in Germany. Both of these cities are absolutely beautiful.

From there we went to Brussels in Belgium and Brugges. Brussels is kind of boring (As far as traveling goes!) and very touristy. Brugges is also super touristy but a very fun town to hang out in.

Then we went to Paris for a few days. Paris is a very cool, unique city, but I don’t have any desire to go back. The people were super rude, it’s quite dirty, and you’re always looking out for pickpockets (a few exchangers had stuff stolen). The Eiffel Tower is cool though, and the Louvre is absolutely amazing.

We then had a night in Toulouse, but we didn’t really get to see much of the city. From what we did see it seems pretty charming. The people were a bit nicer here too as well.

We then headed to Andorra which is small, clean, modern, and tax-free. Andorra is absolutely gorgeous. There was still snow here.

Next on the trip was Barcelona which was by far my favorite stop of the trip. It’s a fun, active, lively city. It’s a little dirty, but it really suits the cities atmosphere. The beaches are awesome, the people super friendly, and the whole city has an amazing vibe. I can’t say enough good stuff about Barcelona.

We made a day trip one day to the monastery of Mont Serrat, which is super cool.

Then we went back to France and saw Avignon and Eze Village. Both of these places are very touristy but cool. Eze Village is a super cool village.

We were in Monaco on Saturday, and the Grand Prix was on Sunday so we got to see the practice runs and there were so many awesome cars and boats in Monaco. It was also super busy because the Grand Prix is the height of the tourist season in Monaco. It was also over 30 degrees here. Monaco is super expensive as well. A coke is 4-5 Euro.

From here we went into Italy and saw Luccca which was a very cool small city. Then we went to Cinque Terre and went cliff jumping which was absolutely beautiful.

Next was Pisa and Florence. Pisa is very interesting, and the tower really is leaning. Florence doesn’t have too much to offer other than three or four old churches and a unique bridge. A few hours here seemed to be more than enough.

Lastly was Jesolo and Venice. Jesolo had awesome beaches and Venice was just as awesome the second time around. I love Venice.

We then got back to Linz and went to the district conference. After that we started saying our good byes. It’s so hard to believe that I only have three weeks left in Austria now.

April and May 1st

This weekend I was in Klagenfurt in Carinthia which I in the lower part f Austria very close to Slovenia and Italy. It is a beautiful city with about 100,000 people living in it. We did a bike ride around the lake there and in total we biked just under 56km.

Yesterday I went climbing at a super cool location. It was a cliff directly over a lake, in front of the higher mountain in Styria and a huge glacier. I’ll out some pictures of that up soon.

I have two more weeks of school now before the start of EuroTour. We are going to Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, France, Andorra, Spain, Italy, and Monaco.

After the Euro Tour I have 24 more days and then I have to go home. It’s so hard to believe that it was a year ago now that I was getting ready to leave, and that in January my oldie was leaving and I wasn’t able to imagine that it would be me so soon. Leaving Austria will be no question harder than leaving Canada.

Easter Break and My Trip

Last update was after ski week. Since then I’ve had Eater break and my dad came to visit.

Easter Break was quite good. I stayed with a different host family for the whole break and it went really well. I also did a presentation to my host club about Canada all in German. It went quite well and the meeting had one of the highest turnouts – 29 people.

I spent Easter break here in Trieben/Admont and didn’t go anywhere else. I just hung out here.

After Eater break I had one day of school then my class left for their trips and my dad and Nina arrived. I was pretty nervous seeing him after 8 months, but it was awesome! He met my host families and then we went to Vienna which was amazing. We also spent a night in Bratislava which was cool, and a few nights in Prague, which is an amazing city. It was an amazing trip overall.

Now I have 20 days, then EuroTour, then only 3 more weeks and I leave for Canada. Everything has went so fast!

Ski Camp – Schladming

I just got back from a week at ski camp in Schladming (the world cup is being held there next year) with most of the exchange students in Austria. It was an awesome week and it went by really fast.
On Friday one of my friends stayed at my house so that we could ski an extra day. I live an hour from Schladming so I’d already been there a fair bit this year. 
The snow was all man made and wasn’t very good. It was still a great time. The first 3 days we had half day lessons but my instructor (advanced group) was horrible. He didn’t know anything.
We were allowed to ski around with friends after lessons and for the last 3 days, so we covered a lot of the hill, and spent a lot of time in the park.
Evenings we just hung around our hotel playing pool an searching movies. One day we went sledding which was tons of fun. The last night we went to a ski dance thing which was pretty lame. It was pretty much just a huge advertisement for the ski hill. 
Overall it was an awesome week! 

215 Days

Here’s me on a ski tour: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2778031572451&l=7d7e2fb97a

A lot has happened since my last blog post. I moved host families, and I absolutely love my new host family! I moved on February 11, to Trieben, which is a town that is 14km away. It’s just on the other side of the mountain. Now I have to take the bus to school, which leaves at 6:45, so I’m up at 6. In Admont I used to get up at 7, so it’s a bit earlier.

I started to read the first Harry Potter book in German and it’s a bit difficult. It’s fun to try though, and gives me a good challenge with German.

In February I went skiing in Switzerland and visited Venice with my mum which was an awesome experience! Switzerland is such a beautiful country, and Venice is a very interesting place.

School here is alright. I don’t do much in class, and it’s for sure not the most fun part of exchange, but it allows me to work on my German, so it’s alright.

A couple of weeks ago I was visiting my host mums brothers house, who is a farmer. I got to milk a cow which was a pretty cool experience. Now everything is done with machines, but it would have been so much work to milk all your cows before these machines where invented.

Last weekend I was on a ski tour at a mountain called Der Dachstien. We had avalanche beacons and everything, and we had a good amount of new snow. We skied from 2800 meters elevation down to 1200, so it was an awesome day.

I’ve now been on exchange 7 months, and it’s very hard to believe. I’m so excited for the rest of my year. Saturday I go to ski camp for a week. After that I have a week of school, then Easter break. I move host families around this time as well (maybe). Then my dad comes to visit me, and after that I have a couple weeks of school then Euro Tour. For Euro Tour we go to Czech Republic, Germany, France, Andorra, Spain, Monaco, Italy, and Austria. I’m so stoked for the trip! After Euro Tour I have a month left and them I’m home.

I know I’ve been bad at updating the blog, but from here till the end of the year I have a lot of interesting stuff happening, so I will try my best to update more frequently. If anyone wants to talk to me with email, feel free to send me one. :) My e-mail is lukaslarsson(at)shaw.ca.

Here are the January photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2787845417791.2117920.1307983897&type=3&l=66970da867

I will post with links to the february / march photos once they are up. I still need to go through about 1000 of them.

5 Months Now

I’ve been in Austria just over 5 months now. Sorry about being so bad with undating this thing. It doesn’t seem to be my strong point at all.

In December we had a meetup in Salzburg with all of the exchange students in Austria, as well as the kids in Croatia. It was the last time I saw a lot of the exchangers from Australia. It was an awesome weekend. We saw the castle above Salzburg, and we spent a lot of time in the Advent Markets. It lightly snowed the whole weekend as well.

Christmas was pretty fun in Austria, and here they use real candles on the tree, so I was convinced the whole house was going to burn down! I went to mass in the evening on the 24th, then we exchange gifts. The 25th we went to my host mums sisters house for coffee.

I’ve been skiing 6 times now, and it’s absolutely awesome! Here the chair lifts have like wind shields and heated seats which is so nice! The Alps are beautiful as well!

For New Years I was with some other exchangers, and here anyone can buy fireworks and shoot them off, so people were shooting fireworks like crazy!

On the 13th of January I went to Vienna because my “oldie”, Scott, left.

We have a lot of snow here, and the weather is great. School is going pretty well. On Tuesday I go to the Night Slalom race at Schladming. I’m still with my first host family, but I’m probably moving the last weekend on January.

Almost 3 Months!

Well I figured it was time to update this again (and a Mr. Frank Burns requested an update. It’s hard to keep up with Andrea’s diligent posting)!

I’ve almost been here in Austria for three months, and I’ve loved everything so far! It’s almost ski season as well which I am super stoked for.

I’m in a pretty small town here in Austria, called Admont, which is at least an hour and a half by train from the nearest “big city” which is like 250,000 people. In Austria that’s pretty far as well.

It’s a lot different living in a small town. Everyone knows who you are, and they can tell if you’re from the city too, which is weird. Everyone says hi to each other and like everyone knows everyone.

School here is boring. I don’t understand that much, and they take like 14 subjects here. It doesn’t help being a Carroll student either. I’m not used to sitting in class and having to ask to do simple things like going to the washroom. I go to school Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 7:55 Am to 12:30, and on Tuesday and Thursday 7.55 Am to 1:35.

German is pretty difficult, but it’s coming along alright. The grammar is pretty difficult though. Everyone here is fluent in English too, so as soon as I don’t understand something they just switch to English, and don’t bother trying a second time. The kids here also all talk in dialect, not High German which makes understanding stuff even more difficult.

Everyone smokes here as well, and I swear I am going to get Secondhand lung cancer. You can smoke inside a lot of places as well, so everything always smells like smoke.

In September I went on a hiking weekend with all of the other exchange students which as great! We found a giant glacier, and just hiked around a bit. The Canadians / Americans went swimming in a lake that was a solid 14 degrees, and people thought we would get sick. Then in October we all went to Vienna and went to a musical and did some sight seeing, again with the other exchangers so it was awesome as well. In December we all go to Salzburg.

So yeah, if you have an questions just leave a comment and I’ll answer it!

P.S I hope this spelling is okay. I used spell check and read it like 4 times, but it’s probably bad.

One Month

I’ve now been here in Austria for one month, and it has been amazing so far. School started yesterday, I have another Rotary weekend coming up. We are going hiking.

It’s hard to believe that I have actually been here for one month. Time has been going so fast, yet it feels like I have been here for such a long time.

After going to Graz (in my last update) I have now been to a few more museums and castles around Admont. I’ve also went on a couple hikes which were awesome! The scenery here is unreal. I can sit on my balcony and look out at the Alps all around me. We also went to Linz with another inbound – Scott from Australia. We went to the Ars Electronica Festival. There were tons of people and fireworks. We also met Josh there for the night because he lives in Linz.

Yesterday was my first day of school which went pretty well. We only had school from 7.55-9.40 and it was all information. My class tried to elect me as Vice-Class President, but my teacher said no. Today I had class from 7.55 till 11:40 and we actually had classes, but they were pretty much just information classes. We did have French class though, and being Canadian everyone thought I’d be able to speak French, but I don’t speak any French so that was odd. I understood most of the class though. I just couldn’t say anything at all. I might switch to a lower level French class, but then I’d be with like 13 year olds. It was either French or Latin, and everyone said not to take Latin because they are all really advanced, so I took French.

I don’t really understand class except for Math because they were doing Linear Functions, and I did that last year.

That’s all for now I guess. I updated my pictures and will add more today if you want to look.

Lukas

19 Days – Camp And Stuff

My first 19 days in Austria have been amazing. The country is incredibly beautiful, the people are beyond friendly, the weather is perfect, and the other exchange students are great.

I flew into Austria from Calgary to Frankfurt then caught a flight from Frankfurt to Graz. The flights all went great and there wasn’t any trouble at all. When I saw the alps from the airplane I was amazed. They are literally not describable, and they cant be compared to the rockies. I personally love the way the Rockies look more, but thats probably because they are familiar to me. Once I arrived in Graz I walked out and saw my host family. Meeting them went way better than I had imagined it.  I drove with my host family to Admont, which is about an hour 15 from Graz. The town is pretty cool looking and is right in the alps. I then went to sleep and slept for 20 hours and woke up at like 7 am, so I wasn’t jet lagged at all.

I then went straight to language camp and was actually a night late but it didn’t matter at all. Language camp was in a town called Altmünster which is on the Traunsee. The town is a popular vacation spot and is an amazingly cool town. There’s an old castle that overlooks the lake that I wrote from every day as well. We had language camp every day until 2:30 then we get to do what we want until 10:00. We just hang around town and go swimming and stuff. It’s awesome. We also went on a hike, which I ran up with Josh and down with a couple other guys and Josh. We also went to the worlds oldest salt mine which was super cool.

My birthday was on the 23rd and it was better than I could have asked for. I got a giant litre beer mug filled with chocolates. I also got this wicked Austrian hat. We all went into the nearby town of Gmunden and chilled there. Overall it was an awesome day, and I couldn’t have asked for better.

After language camp was over I went back to Admont. I’ve since then opened a back account here, as well as submitted all the forms for my visa which should be here within a couple weeks.

I’ve now been to the monastery / library / museum here in Admont, and I must say that it is pretty impressive. I also went to this open-air museum in Stübing that had houses from all the different regions and time periods in Austria. It was super cool and interesting. All in all they had about 80 different houses. I also went to Graz and had icecream there. It seems like a pretty neat city, and I’d love to go back. Today I went on a hike and had an awesome view of all the surrounding mountains and valleys. It was so beautiful!

If you want to see my pictures so far, here are the links: (You don’t need a facebook account to see these, I don’t think)

August – Part 1
August – Part 2
September – Part 1

Tschüs,

Lukas