Friday, October 31, 2008

Current Thoughts

  • Anthony and Jana being here was the best. They are two of my favorite people and I wish I could've spent even more time with them. Maybe forever. Thank goodness for Eternal Families. (More to come on their visit later)
  • Scarfs are bomb. I think I'm becoming a scarf person, at least a little bit. Scarfs are not only stylish but they also keep my neck nice and toasty. We'll see if I continue to wear them once I'm home though.
  • Facebook is so lame. I'm really sick of it, right now. And I'm thinking about getting rid of it for a bit. Who knows if I'll ever actually do it. But I did last spring for a month. So, maybe I'll have the motivation again to really do it? The only thing I like is looking at people's pictures on facebook, and posting them for mother to see. Would anyone support me in this decision? Claire and I just made a pack that we will only check it on Sundays. Hopefully that goes okay for us, and the first break will only be a day and a half so maybe that will wean us into it. Wish us luck!!
  • I'm sick of males. And the fact that we only have 5 boys in our group here is a little annoying as well. Because normally I prefer their company. They really aren't that bad. Just sometimes it is so hard with how different male and female's thought processes are. I dislike not being able to understand them whatsoever. And
  • 53 days till I will be home. Depending on whether Mom and Dad and Grandma are coming to pick me up here and travel around with me. If they decide not to and I fly home the 16th, then I will be home in 46 days. Its completely rockin' either way.
  • These 2 bumps behind my ear suck. My head is sensitive there now, and all of a sudden there are two random bumps on the back of my head. It worries me a little bit, but hopefully they'll go away in a couple days and there will be no problem.
  • A 4 pack of chocolate muffins may be one of the best purchases ever. I only ate one yesterday, but it was so absolutely delicious, and moisty and chocolatey. I may eat another for breakfast this morning, I'm really excited for it now!
  • I'm 90% sure of what I'll be doing in January. Often I doubt my decision. Very often actually, but I know it feels right. And hopefully it will be the best decision of my life. I guess time will tell.
  • Mexican food is so good. I went with a few people to the same Mexican restaurant that I went to before. Ali and I split a beef burrito so we could get chips and salsa as well. The salsa wasn't great, but the chips were great and salty. I can't wait to eat Rosa's when I come home.

I think that is all of my thoughts at the moment. I'll try writing about Prague and my time with Anthony and Jana soon. Hugs to all.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

the ZOO

Our whole group went to the Kreuzenstein castle on Wednesday. It was built over 900 years ago, but destroyed at one point. So they rebuilt it. We went on a tour, but we ended up being there way less time than I expected. So a group of us decided we should go to the zoo!

Going to the San Diego Zoo or Wild Animal Park is one of my favorite activities while I'm at home. I love seeing all of the animals and I especially love seeing them in their (somewhat) natural habitat at the WAP. I think part of it is because that way I don't feel as bad for them, because then they actually have space to run around, you know, stretch their legs a little. The Zoo in Vienna, the "Tiergarten," is located at Schonbrunn castle and is actually the oldest zoo in the world. That is pretty neat, isn't it? Now, I'm not complaining, but the zoo was a little small. I admit I am spoiled living in Southern California, but really, this zoo wasn't lacking on thevariety of animals it has, it was just lacking on space. The animals are all really close to each other which is fine and also nice for us since we had already been walking around most of the day. Though, I feel really bad for the animals having such small spaces to live. For example, (I don't know if this has to do with his lack of space, but) when we were visiting mister orangutan he was sitting near the window and I went and put my hand on the window and he ran up to the window and put his meanest face on and ran into the window! We were looking at him still when someone took a flash photo (completely allowed) and he ran into the window with this growling looking face again. It was hysterical, and of course at the time we were laughing like crazy. But now thinking about it, I feel really bad for the little guy. MAYBE he wasn't mad about being in a case, but obviously he wasn't very happy about something.

The great thing about this zoo though, was that they (somewhat) recently had baby tigers and lions born. And they are absolutely adorable! Of course everyone was trying to get good pictures of them, so I could hardly see them, and I couldn't even get a picture of the little tigers and only got an okay one of a lion cub. But I did get to see them wrestling with and chasing eachother. Also they have some young polar bears, but they aren't quite as young as the cat cubs, but still looked very cute and cuddly.
Another of my favorite parts was going into the rain forest house ( I don't know the actual name) and they had a dark room with tons of bats flying around. I was in the room with Nick, Mirielle and McKinlee and it was great listening to the other two girls scream as the bats flew almost right at them. I can honestly tell you I never SCREAMED, though I may have shrieked a little. One of the bats even landed right on McKinlee and Nick had quite a tough time getting out because one of the bats tried coming out with him and got stuck in between the two doors.

We also got to see flamingos, fish, turtles, giant tortoises, monkeys (a few kinds), panthers, a cheetah, butterflies (one was even coming right out of the cacoon, but he was taking too long so we couldn't wait for him to finish), sea lions, elephants, penguins, giraffes, koalas, pandas, snakes, hippos, rhinocerous, and probably a few others. I would have to say it was a very succesful day. (Jillian and I on the statue elephants)

We wandered around the gardens for a little till we had to leave to Institute. And I enjoyed a great (I'm guessing it was great) lesson in German on Lehi's vision. He even made each of us read a verse which gave me a little angst (fear auf Deutsch) but luckily I didn't get any hard words in mine. And I understood quite a bit of the lesson, which adds to my gratitude that I have a basic understanding of the scriptures so I could know what was going. For dinner we had pumpkin soup and crepes with nutalla and PEANUT BUTTER for dessert. This was my first time eating PB since I've been here, so it was an enjoyable experience, naturally.

Also, yesterday wasn't succesful because I am still in search of a German word for 'awkward.' Absolutely no one has given me a good answer. The answers I have recieved are, lustig (funny), komish (strange), peinlich (embarrassing) and plump (clumsy - I learned this one from a story read in my German class.) It makes me really sad that the German language is lacking this absolutely wonderful word. Though I an finally learning the difference between schön (pretty, hansdome, nice...), hübsch (pretty, cute - but mainly used as pretty) and süß (sweet, cute - this word would be used to describe a cute child.) Well, thats all for today, or yesterday for that matter. Gute nacht alle.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Zurück von Italien

Ach meine Güte, where do I begin? Our trip to Italy was absolutely beautiful. I really do believe Italy is my favorite country, at least outside of the United States.

We first went to Florence on a night train. The bed was not comfortable at all but I slept better than most of the other people in our group so I felt good about that. A few of us bought pasteries for breakfast and mine was absolutely delicious, it was way cheaper and better than all the pasteries I've had in Vienna. We went on a tour of the city and saw St. Lorenzo's, another church and the big bridge across the river. We had some free time so Claire and I bought a really cute scarf in the open market and then we a group of us went to a restaurant and I got some tasty lasagna. We also got gelato twice before we met up with the big group at the Uffizi museum. The second time Claire and I shared so we wouldn't feel too bad about it, but it was absolutely delicious (maybe the best I've ever had), we got raspberry and amaretto flavor. In the Uffizi museum we saw the Boticelli's 'Birth of Venus' and 'Spring' and a bunch of other masterpieces, but after such a long day it was really difficult to pay attention to them all.
St. Lorenzo's.
On the bridge across the river. (Melissa, Claire, me and Kristen)
The river was really dirty but the reflection of the bridges were beautiful.
Nick and I always have fun together on the tours.
Enjoying our gelato (Brad, Trevor, Claire, McKinlee, Kristen and I)
Thursday we woke up and a few of us went to the top of the dome on St. Lorenzo's, it was a breathtaking view of the city so we stayed there for a little while. We went to the Accademia that has Michael Angelo's 'David', it took us about 2 hours to get inside, but I definitely think I appreciated it more this time than I did when I came to Europe at the age of 13. It is incredible how detailed everything is, you could even see the veins on his hand. Claire and I went back to the market and bought a few gifts for some people back home and I bought myself a purse. It is super cute and the zipper broke on the one I brought from home so it was a necessity.
We took a 3 hour long train ride to Venice and had free time for the rest of the evening. We walked around the city and got some dinner and really enjoyed seeing all the canals and teeny alley ways in the city.
Enjoying the view from the top of the dome. We had to take stairs up and our legs were pretty tired. (Me, Claire, Jen and Rachel)
View of the city of Florence
Claire and I loving the view.
We are in Venice! Claire is styling the scarf she bought it Florence.

Friday we went on a tour of the city of Venice which started in St. Mark’s square. Being in Venice definitely reminded me of the movies ‘Italian Job’ and ‘James Bond - Casino Royale.’ On our tour we saw a seagull swoop down and attack a pigeon, it killed it, it was pretty grotesque. We ended our tour at the Market and I bought a peach that was so huge and juicy and delicious. I went with Mirielle and Tawny and Ali on a water bus to the island of Burano (where we thought the glass was blown, but really it is Murano.) It was great getting to know those girls better. Burano was the cutest little island ever. All of the houses and different buildings were painted different colors and most of them were really bright colors. Like there was a pink house next to a turquoise house and a yellow next to a red, etc.
Some gondolas on one of the canals in Venice.

Look how huge that peach was.
The girls are enjoying the sunshine (Danielle, Ali, Mirielle, Tawny, Kasia, Lisa and Cassandra)
We are on a "bus" on the water! (Mirielle and I)
So many different colors.
See a turquoise house next to a pink one - so adorable.
Making wonderful sillhoutte shapes. When I saw the picture I said "wow, I look hecka flexible" probably not one of my best moments (me, Miriella and Ali)
On Saturday, Mirielle, Ali and I rode another water bus to St. Giorgio and went up the bell tower of the church for a glorious view of the islands of Venice. Last time when I came to Venice we didn’t do a lot so I didn’t enjoy it a lot, but this time we went to so many of the other islands that I absolutely loved it. The 3 of us went to the island of Lido and found our way to the beach on the other side of the island. I loved feeling the sand on my feet and Mirielle and I went swimming! It was a little cold, but not too bad, it was really shallow too, though it was great. We made our way back to the hotel and on the way we rode a 50cent gondola across the river. Now I can say I have ridden a gondola, but thankfully didn’t pay so much. We barely made it to the train station 10 minutes before our train departed to Wien.
Ali and I on the island of St. Giorgio.
One of the views from the Bell tower.
We are so happy to be at the beach. Mirielle forgot her swimsuit but still wanted to swim with me.
Yes! We went swimming in the Mediterranean Sea.
Mirielle, Ali, and I at the beach.

My gondola ride.

It was difficult because I don’t know any Italian, but maybe I can learn it some day and visit again. It was so funny because whenever we heard English we got excited, but I got excited when I heard German as well, though here in Austria it doesn’t really excite me. I even asked somebody to take a picture of us in German - I am so cool!

There are so many wonderful things to see in Italy, I wish we had gotten to go to Rome as well. But I am grateful I got to see a few things in Florence and Venice that I didn’t see before. I got to enjoy some good Italian pasta and pizza and I got gelato 5 times! (Don’t worry, we were walking around plenty that it burned off the calories.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sunday best...

We got to watch two sessions of General Conference yesterday at the Stake Center here in Wien. We even got to watch the Sunday morning session live, so it was fun knowing that everyone back home was watching and hearing the exact same messages from our living prophets as I was.

Its so interesting comparing my feelings of the two catholic masses I have gone to here, to one of our church meetings, whether a normal sacrament meeting or the twice a year event of General Conference. I love the gospel. I used to hate wearing dresses or skirts, but now I like it. And I love getting dressed up for church and having an excuse to wear my "Sunday Best."

I think I paid more attention to this years conference than I have ever done before. I'm sure actually being in a church building instead of sitting on my comfortable couch helped. And I kept good notes too!

I especially enjoyed Sis. Dalton's talk on being a virtuous daughter. We really do have the strength to do anything with the help of the Lord. We need to be examples to everyone around us, because there is so much power in a righteous example. Being on a BYU study abroad I wouldn't have thought I would have much opportunity or need to be a good example as a member of the church. But I have made some new friends here and I hope they can see how important the gospel really is to me and I hope I convey the gospel in a good light to them. It is so amazing to me how strong the members are here. They had to go to highschool with out a support group of friends who are also members of the church. They had to be the examples (maybe the only one in their whole school) for their other friends, to be the one who dresses modestly, who doesn't drink or smoke. I am so impressed with them, and their strength.

I also expecially enjoyed Elder Bednar's talk on prayer. So often I forget to pray to the Lord, to really pray, in earnest. I end up only intently praying when I find myself in times of need. I found it really helpful at the beginning of this year, when I was going through a tough time, to only say prayers of gratitude. I'm sure there were things I wanted to ask for, but I made the personal decision to only give thanks in my discussions with the Lord and during that time I felt so close to Him.

I am so grateful we have living prophets today, How lucky are we that we have the truth in these treacherous times. More than ever we need to listen to and heed their words. I am so thankful that I have learned this throughout my life.