At the moment, Salzburg is at a level of cold I’ve never experienced before. I can’t remember the last time temperatures got above 0 degrees and, despite not having snowed for a week, the ground is still thick with snow and ice. The temptation has been to just stay inside and drink cocoa all day, but, unbelievably, I’m actually here to study. On Monday morning, my study group gave our presentation in our Interkulturelles Praktikum class, but not before we made a pre-class snowman in the grounds of the Unipark. I then had yet another study session in the library, before heading off to the gym. Tuesday began, once again, with the incomprehensible lecture which I don’t ever intend to sit the exam for. Then, with the weekend’s big event approaching, I took some time away from revision to hit up the Getriedegasse and find myself a frock. Me being me (aka, very anti-dress and very tall), this was by no means easy, but after some whatsapp consultation with my friends, I found something passable as a ball gown. After a quick trip home to dump my purchases, I headed back to uni for my seminar, then, later on, took the long and incredibly cold journey to basketball. That evening, I was very glad to get back in bed and watch TV until I fell asleep!
On Wednesday, I did my usual, and headed straight for the gym before my final history lecture of the semester. Then, it was off to Kaffee Alchemie to grab a quick coffee with Adele and Toni, before heading to the Theology library, which was hosting a late night study session (complete with free food, which is totally not why we went…….). The three of us seemed to be pretty much the loudest people in the whole of Salzburg that evening, and felt massively out of place in the very old and very fancy library. Needless to say, we were in O’Malley’s before midnight.
Thursday saw my first proper exam of the year, so I spent the day studying in various parts of the city, before giving up and going to the gym. The language course exam didn’t go particularly well, possibly due in part to the verrrrryy questionable coffee I had just beforehand and I went to bed tired and slightly pissed off at myself. After a lie in and gym session on Friday though, I was feeling better and, that evening, the Adele, Toni, Bo, Iris and I met up to go to a free event at the Das Kino cinema in town, where they showed old Monty Python films and a few newer releases for free – my kind of evening!!
On to Saturday. Today was all about preparation. That evening, the girls all came round to mine at 6pm to get ready for the Paris Lodron Ball, held in the Salzburg Residenz (a super fancy palace in the Altstadt). We brought prosecco (classy) to drink, and got dolled up in our gowns and make up, before realising that it was -15 outside, so it would probably be wiser to wrap up warm and get changed there. Once we’d arrived and changed into our full finery, we ascended the steps to the palace, were greeted with (another) glass of prosecco and made our entrance into the grand ballroom. It was an incredible spectacle. The orchestra were playing on a raised platform, people dressed in tuxedos and sweeping gowns were ballroom dancing across the floor……. and we stood giggling drunkenly at the side, not knowing quite what to do with ourselves. As beautiful as it was, I’ve never felt so out of my depth. Throughout the night, we made our way through the four different ballrooms, each with a different style of dance, and even stumbled across the palace museum. Some of our friends were there too, as were a number of photographers. I suppose, I couldn’t have come to Austria without attending a proper Austrian ball, and it was one hell of an experience. By 2.30am, people were beginning to leave so, apprehensive of the intense cold outside, we collected our coats and made the painfully chilly walk/jog home. I swore I’d never be warm again after that sojourn. The next day, once the hangovers had subsided, the girls all came back to mine to debrief on the events of the night, and to take a communal nap, before going our separate ways in order to study for our forthcoming exams.
I remember being told about this ball at the start of the year, and thinking how far away it seemed, and how it would make a suitable send off for my time in Austria. Now it’s happened, and I can’t believe that my semester here is almost over. I’ve been so emotional over the last few days thinking of the people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had and how much I’ve changed as a person. Ellie of 12 months ago would have scoffed at the idea of going to a ball, and, whilst I still felt pretty incongruous, I can appreciate how culturally important events like that are to this city, especially now that I call this city my home. With only one more week of the academic semester left, I’m approaching yet another huge transition, but I’m trying not to think about that too much at the moment; I’ve just got it too good right here right now.