Friday after class two beautiful IES students and I spent far too much time eating cinnamon and applesauce waffles, drinking coffee, sharing stories, and attempting to read the most artfully illustrated German children’s books in the back of Café der Provinz on Maria Treu Gasse. I had signed up for a night hike in Grinzing earlier that week that one of our IES advisors had planned for us as a study break the night before our Saturday morning German midterm. It was scheduled for 5pm, so I didn’t think meeting up with new friends for brunch at 12pm would be any sort of problem…until one of them looked at her watch and said, “It’s 4:10.” Seeing as I was still in a long coat, dress, and boots, and was not going to miss out on this hike, the next 45 minutes were a little wild for Lauren Franklin. I sprinted to my Ottakring apartment to pull on some obnoxious combination of a beanie, black and white spidery looking leggings, an electric/Royal sort of blue puffer, and a saggy backpack just to hold the apple that I would eat in the next 10 minutes. I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with just how quickly one can get from a place like Liebhartsgasse in the 16th district to a place as lushly green as Grinzing at 5:10pm (because I was late, of course) in the autumn, with the light drifting through the falling yellow leaves.
I’m telling you all this, because I want you to take this hike with your fellow students if you come here. We trekked through narrow mud troughs that ran alongside tucked away homes. There were so many rows of different greens. The entire time, yellow leaves were falling around our open faces like our own hair. We were all chatting about the now, and the places around us fit right in. I learned quite a lot about Hillary, a girl who has the shortest, blondest hair and the most real heart for freedom in a world that keeps fighting that heart. I learned a lot about Will, a boy who printed out a Vienna hiking trails checklist as soon as he got here, to challenge himself to trek them all. I learned that there’s a Celtic Tree of Life circle off this trail, where two-week periods of the year are represented by planted trees, where each tree harbors a personality description for those whose birthdays fall in within those weeks. I thought it was probably all weightless encouragement, until I read the word “Träumer,” or dreamer, in my birthday's designated description. There was a small church down a road a little off our path. There was a round, encompassing café off to the left on our way home. Hillary and I discussed whether we were country or city women, and by the end we concluded that whomever we were, we were people who knew we wanted hikes like this to never be too far away.
(Brunch with a new friend)
(Trying to capture one of the hand-drawn illustrations in those children's books at the back of the café)
(Looking up and catching my breath on my sprint home)
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<p>Hello, hello! I'm Lauren Franklin, and I'm a junior at the University of San Diego. I'm an English major with a minor in psychology, and I'm trying to squeeze in as many theology and art classes as I possibly can. I would love to be the sort of student who's constantly found in the library studying away, but that's not always the case here: What bring me the most joy are grand stories, fresh produce, the green rolling outdoors, and creating and learning with friends who want to venture out together.</p>