You know that feeling in the first few seconds after you wake up from a really good dream and the whole world just feels perfect? Well that’s been this last month for me. I arrived in Salzburg, frazzled, terrified but excited on September 10th 2016. As I write this, the clock on my laptop is just about to hit midnight, at which point it will have been one month since I first met Valentina, first held a conversation with a German, first arrived in this dreamy city. I can’t decide if it’s been the longest or fastest month of my life, all I can definitively say is that it’s been the most incredible. I’ve met so many wonderful people here, I’ve learnt so much and done so much. Every day I consider what 18 year old Ellie would make of 20 year old Ellie doing all this and every time I come to the conclusion that she wouldn’t have believed it possible. Back then, there were times when I thought I wouldn’t even make it to uni, let alone be having a year abroad and thriving there. Of course, not everything’s perfect and I could wax lyrical on my frustrations with speaking German, the cost of everything, the lack of organisation etc, but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt recently, it’s that, what’s the point in only focusing on what isn’t completely perfect. It’s the imperfections, mistakes and traumatic times that make it an experience worth diving headfirst into.
On to this week. Things began slower and I became more reluctant to leave the house as the weather took a decisive turn for the worst, dropping more than 10 degrees over the weekend. You would have thought I’d have born this in mind when I decided not to take the bus, but to cycle to the gym, 6km away. Needless to say, I returned three hours later, very cold, very wet and just a bit pissed off. Fortunately, an evening rendezvous with the girls at Bo’s apartment was on the cards which served to lessen my anger at the city’s sudden climate change.
Tuesday was another quite day, featuring a wander through the Altstadt and a considerably more successful trip to the gym. Wednesday, however, saw another important first: my first lectures at uni. The first of these was one I’m still not sure if I’ll continue and probably wasn’t the most reassuring start to my career as an international Erasmus student as the lecturer was an eccentric south Austrian man with a penchant for telling jokes I’m pretty sure even the German and Austrian students in the auditorium didn’t understand. After a quick interlude during which I had my first experience of an Austrian post office (surprisingly efficient), I had a second lecture across the city. This was a summary of recent Austrian history and was surprisingly easy to understand, which hopefully bodes well for the rest of the semester. After a quick pit-stop at Kaffee Alchemie with Bo and Adele to catch up on the latter’s most recent romantic conquests, we separated to get ready for the party that night – an event unsubtly called “Liebe machen”. This was in one of Salzburg’s fancier clubs and was essentially a glitzed up cave built into the mountain.
Needless to say, after getting home so late I only needed to wait 10 minutes to catch the first bus on Thursday morning, the next day was a late starter. After going to the gym, Adele, Iris, Merel and I had the first class of our C1 language course, which should be more challenging than the one we had done previously.
The next day, Adele took me on a pilgrimage to the IKEA just out of town where, naturally, we bought more than we could actually carry. I then went for a beautiful run along the river before getting ready for that evening. I was hosting a kind of low budget dinner party with the girls and Bo’s terrified boyfriend, after which we would head out to the second party of the week. This did have a slight school disco vibe to it, but the nighttime views over the city were nothing short of spectacular.
Saturday once again saw me fall victim to the vicissitudes of the Salzburg micro-climate as my afternoon run coincided with a torrential downpour which stopped just as I decided to head home. As is often the case, Salzburg redeemed itself later on, as Toni, Adele and I had a walk through the Altstadt before heading to Murphy’s Pub which conveniently had a whiskey event on that night…..
Finally to today. The weather perked up slightly, so Toni, Adele and I decided to tick another box off the Salzburg tourist checklist and headed to Schloss Hellbrun, just south of the city. This palace is nowhere near as impressive as the Festungs Hohensalzburg and, in fact, it’s its grounds which make it worth visiting. Climbing the hill at the back of the palace took us to a viewpoint which offered a spectacular view of the snow-covered Watzmann and Untersberg mountain ranges south of the city. I know I shouldn’t wish my time away, but I can’t wait to ski here. The three of us then headed back to the city to meet Iris for coffee and vegetarian curry, before going back to her house for a movie night.
And that’s it, now I’m sat here, wrapped in a 2 euro blanket I bought from IKEA this week and thinking back over this last month. I’ve made this blog mainly for me, so I can look back at what I’ve done, what I’ve learnt and what I’ve achieved. Listening to stories from my other friends on years abroad, I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been. Salzburg isn’t the European metropolis I dreamt of living in, but it’s still so beautiful and so perfect here. Walking around the city, it feels so comfortable being here and I’m so glad. I never thought I’d enjoy being a student in any city more than I do Exeter, but boy oh boy, Salzburg has taken that title and run away with it. I can’t wait to look back at what I get up to in the next month.