The Beginning: Snow and Schnitzel in Mariazell

Selina Donahue
January 17, 2016
The city of Mariazell, Austria

After two sleepless flights and a three hour bus ride, I finally arrived in Mariazell, Austria, joining the rest of the 170 or so students of the program. Dinner was shortly followed by presentations, a bit difficult to follow thanks to the lack of ZZZs. Despite the disorientation, everyone was friendly, the staff was organized and so welcoming they truly made us excited for all to come.

The view from the hostel was nothing but enchanting. Throughout our three day stay, there was a consistent amount of snowing. When walking into town, I was in awe of the combination of 39 degree Fahrenheit air, with the large chunks of snow drifting the sky.

Although many were impatient to start their lives in Vienna, the orientation was very helpful and I personally think, imperative. It allowed for many students to interact would have otherwise never seen each other outside of the incoming German Intensive. Furthermore, orientation had very structured schedules that allowed us to simply rest and socialize, showing up where they wanted us when they wanted us. And most importantly, meals were made and set up buffet style so no cooking. I even had my first wiener schnitzel, which was my favorite thing I ate from the hostel! Honestly, it was like a large, flat, chicken tender (I am so American). Later, presentations taught us common etiquette in Vienna, quick and easy German phrases, Austria trivia, and informed us on our housing and available internships.

Day Two brought about an excursion into Mariazell, or "Maria in a Cell."

A walk, or hike, to Mariazell allowed for the passing by of many different buildings. Note: if you never work out and don't know how to even pronounce the word cardio, a walk to Mariazell is not for you. However, if you are able to to walk up steep hills multiple times for 45 minutes, the walk is worth it for the scenery. This seemingly abandoned building was my favorite. 

This small and gorgeous town boasted the Mariazell Basilica, an important pilgrimage site of Catholics, which holds the Marian figure. This figure supposedly granted miracles, saving the life of Monk Magnus in several ways. Heidi Roessler, the Teaching Internship Coordinator, gave the tour. Her way of speaking clearly showed her passion of teaching, and it was truly entertaining to listen to her describe how Mariazell came to be.

The inside of the Basilica was a gorgeous assemblage of golds and silvers, patterns and styles.

One of my favorite aspects of the city was the colorful buildings, shades of blue, pastel pinks and yellows, all of which brightened the scenery and streets.

A few new friends and I even went to a café where I had my first Austrian coffee, and small slice of gingerbread.

As we left to walk back to the hostel, it began to intensely snow, creating a stark white sky and scenery. Back home, snow is always random, and never when we want it. Here, it seemed perfect. It was entrancing just to watch outside the window while eating breakfast, or to walk in while exploring the outside of the hostel.

After three days it was time to finally head to Vienna... Where I am now! I am finally settled and have explored a bit and can't wait to tell you more. Until next time! 

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Selina Donahue

<p>Selina is a Junior Studio Art Major at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She enjoys long walks in the halls of art museums, eating too many cupcakes, and absorbing the world around her to feed as inspiration for all her creative endeavors. Her specialties lie in taking too many pictures and expressing joy over the little things. Selina is excited to share the beauty she sees all over Vienna during her stay with all who hop on over to her little blog!</p>

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