Before this European venture out began, when I wrote that I wanted to really be where I am, I meant it. Though, at that time, I wasn't sure what "being" in Vienna would look like. Living in Vienna has been such a surprise. The first surprising aspect that comes to mind is how much city there is to live in. There are 23 districts here, and there is even some land between them. Sometimes it overwhelms me when I look at all the places I want to enjoy here. Then I see my classmates jumping countries every weekend, and I am pulled to conquer the entirety of Europe, too. Please hear this: I want to travel beyond Austria sometimes, too, and I find nothing wrong with it in all strengths, but I first want to remain true to my goal in coming here. I want to be present where I am, and I find that difficult to do if I'm jumping planes to new places every weekend. Someday maybe I'll travel that way, but today I want to be here for most weekends, to get to know this place and some of its people. Whenever those whispers interfere–"You should leave Austria more. You need to see as many places as you can before you leave!" –I open my apartment door and explore the world at my feet. This has never failed me.
I have come upon the sweetest shop owners who have invited me to sit for tea, the most fantastic hand-me-down/up shop I’ve seen, a little Austrian lady with a halo of gray who sat hidden behind her delicate, aged housewares, all scattered about, and Il Bio. Il Bio is most certainly the gem of this bunch. I was on one of those wandering escapades, taking my time one Saturday, and I noticed a sliver of a restaurant. I walked in because it looked warm and I had seen red and white-checkered tablecloths through the glass. Once inside, the wonderful smallness of the place pulled me close. There is one front room with about three small tables in it, and the narrow kitchen stretches in the middle of the place with pride. Most wonderful of all is the group table behind the kitchen, where a group of up to 8 people can sit for hours and slurp up burrata in a warm tomato sauce, then long meaty noodles with hunks of spicy, oily sausage, and maybe finish with a brownie and peaches and caramel gelato atop it all. After I walked in and spent 15 minutes chatting with the owners, a lovely Viennese couple, I immediately invited friends to come eat with me in the dining room there. I ate all of those things, and I still don’t regret it. How could I, when the owner came to our table to ask how we were doing and to translate the menu, dish by dish, for us, and then to invite us back as soon as possible? How could I when I could hear her and her husband talking softly in the kitchen, as my friends and I dwindled the hours, enjoying every minute? Truly, how could I, when that same woman met me with a hug in the entrance and a, “Of course I remember you!” I am not merely tacking on a romantic line to this encounter to be cute when I tell you that my friend Liz walked out of Il Bio and said, “You know, all this time I was waiting to fall in love with Vienna, and this night, this restaurant… It happened.” A great amazement unsettles me when I consider this magical venue’s name, “il bio,” “the life.” Presence, joy, and life to the full are not ever too far. They are here, in life itself, no matter where we are, no matter when. It’s just a matter of standing up to the doubtful whispers and walking out a little.
(Another dimly lit, low quality, restaurant photo. This one's taken by the owner, too! She insisted that we come into the kitchen for a picture together.)
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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>