Yet again I have failed to keep up with my escapades so please forgive me as I include the last few days in one ginormous blog post!
Where to begin?…I guess I left off with our grocery trip to Austria so I will proceed to tell you what in fact we DID with the groceries purchased. On Thursday night the incoming students were invited to participate in the International Dinner in which every nationality cooks a traditional dish of representing their country.
After a long day of German lessons and other introductory events, we were released with a few hours to prepare our meals, and the dormitories became madhouses!
All 6 kitchens were filled with delicious smells, scrumptious foods, and chaos of course. With four Hungarian men crammed into a tiny kitchen and then forced to share with four Germans one can only imagine the chaotic events that occurred. The preparations were filled with floods of foreign dishes and languages and the atmosphere was so surreal it took me a minute to stop and appreciate the opportunity I have been given. Not many 20 year olds can say they have had the opportunity of cooking with, observing, and listening to such a variety of cultures and experiences!
At 8:00 the dinner began, and let me assure you it was as brilliant as expected! A number of dishes from around the world filled the Uni’s (yea I’m bringing the word Uni to the States) cafeteria as well as other students, faculty, and even the
former Prime Minister and his family! There were so many sights and smells that I can not even begin to explain them all, but I can give you a list of some of the great dishes that were present!
Leak and potato soup and soda bread from Ireland, Nachos (really legit ones though) and tequila drinks from the Mexicanas, some delicious plum/apple dessert cake thing from the Czech Republic, a very interesting version of something called a “salad” from Latvia, chili from Texas, rolls that looked like sushi, but we were told were not sushi from South Korea, a rice/stir fry medley from China, cookies from Slovakia, a pasta/rice/meat “salad” from Egypt, eggs and potatoes with green sauce from Germany, and more!
My contribution to the night’s event was initially shrimp kabobs, but….since I’m from the Coast and have been spoiled with easy access to fresh shrimp I had to revert to steak kabobs instead. That afternoon I had manned the grill for about an hour to the fascination of many of the male students, and apparently kabobs
(as in the skewers you create with vegetables and meat) are not found in the rest of Europe! They went quickly at the dinner, and a number of people have since requested for me to make them again so maybe that will be a future post…oh and Jennifer’s chili was good too….I guess.
While a number of the Introductory Week’s activities were exciting, Friday’s events were the greatest by far! The day was filled with hours of German lessons, and even a presentation in German, but we were rewarded for all of our hard work with a trip up the mountain to a town called Sücka. Probably a 20-30 min bus ride from Vaduz, the tiny town is nestled in the middle of the mountains and covered in snow. We arrived at nighttime, and began the trek up the mountain to the restaurant/hotel (actually called a hut) where we were staying for the night.
Now this trek was no easy task! At least 30 minutes, in the dark, cold, icy
weather and we FINALLY made it to the top. Fortunately I had the appropriate shoes (or fantastic mountain climbing skills) because on the way up a good number of people were slipping and sliding every which way. Once we reached the hut, we quickly deposited our belongings in the correct room, and began the night’s main attraction-SLEDGING.
Now before you think I made a typo, let me assure you I meant to write sledging with a g. This sport is literally like sledding on steroids. We were given sled like items and told to partner up, beginners with advanced people (usually the ones from Germany or nearby Europe). I was smart enough to pick the largest guy I could find, because of course once we made it down the mountain we had to come back up….WITH THE SLED! oh and I guess because he was nice too, but mainly so he could carry the sled 🙂
Anyhow…we hopped on the sled and off we went without any instructions, tips, or anything! The very first few minutes was when I learned the important basics: use your heels to stop and steer, dig in the heel in the direction you want to turn, and if you’re about to run into a wall BAIL! Let me remind you that this
was not a sled down a tiny little hill, this was a course that was about 8 minutes long with sharp turns in both directions straight down a mountain! (All of which made it more fun!)
This is by far the most exciting activity I have ever done (minus water skiing), and the thrill was extremely worth the giant hike back up the mountain
afterwards!! Once we had finished our first run, we went for a second time this time being more bold…maybe a bit too much..and crashed into a wall and a snow bank, flipping the sled both times, and ending up covered in icy snow! TOTALLY worth it!!
But…two times was definitely enough! We then went up for dinner which deserves an entire blog to itself it was THAT good! We were served a traditional German mean called “Raclette” and if you are already familiar with it oh well…I am explaining it anyway! Each of the tables had a griddle type appliance, and we were served a
plate of assorted meat (chicken, bacon, and sausage), a platter of cheese, tomatoes, mixed vegetables, pickles, and potatoes all of which we prepared ourselves on the griddle! The cheese was placed in little personal fondue dishes under the griddle and as the meat was cooked on top, the cheese melted below and pretty much tasted like heaven.
The food kept coming and coming, and all of a sudden I was hit with fullness like a brick wall! And it was definitely worth it!! After a brief intermission game organized by our buddy team leader, Marie Eckert, (you will surely see me mention her in future blogs) we were served dessert! Now as full as I was, I am never one to turn down dessert…and just like the Raclette, the dessert was great! Raspberry and a crisp lemon/vanilla sorbet was served with homemade whipped cream and a cookie/tortilla thing on top, and not a bite was left.
Following dinner we went out for yet another run down the sledging track, and were about to go again when the lovely (actually quite scary) German lady informed us that the doors would be shut and locked at 2:00 am so we had better get inside. At first I thought I had misunderstood her, because surely she meant
10:00 not 2:00, but NO! It was nearly 2:00 in the morning and I hadn’t even noticed!! That is how fantastic the night was, and it didn’t end there! We headed up to our bunks and continued the night with a number of international games, and finally around 4:00 am couldn’t continue any longer.
Saturday morning after an international snowman contest we returned to the dormitory, and I immediately took a much needed nap. Sunday had a few exciting activities as well.
After attending church just across the street, an older lady asked if I would help her with her walker up the cobblestone steps, (of course this I deduced from her gestures since she was speaking German) and come to find out she is a princess! Literally a real life princess of the Principality of Liechtenstein! Check that one off the bucket list!!
Sunday night a few of us decided to go to Schaan, the next town over, to see a
movie in a theater we had read about online that was showing “The Iron Lady” in English. This sounds like a normal activity that you don’t really want to hear about, but it certainly wasn’t!! The theater was something out of the storybooks. First of all the ticket was 14 francs, needless to say we won’t be making that a weekly activity! Secondly, the theater is so swanky it takes reservations! (Fortunately we made it just in time before the program sold out to those without reservations.) There was also a “pre movie” wine lounge area, and even couches in the theater!
Today was an exciting day of grocery shopping and exploring in Feldkirch, Austria, and this time the grocery store wasn’t intimidating at all. We owned that store! Jennifer and I even had coleslaw, mashed potatoes and gravy, and meat for dinner that we bought and cooked! Take that foreign food packaging!
I guess I have rambled on enough about the last couple of days so I will now include the obligatory 5 interesting new facts I have learned:
1. Grocery stores here don’t sell pre made cake mixes, nor icing. Apparently you actually have to make cakes from scratch…challenge accepted.
2. Absegagt in German means cancelled, which is what happened to our first class that was supposed to meet today!
3. Tobasco is sold here! Translated: The South is taking over!
4. Everything in the area is closed on Sundays, literally everything. Even the grocery stores are closed!
5. In the winter cows are brought down from the mountains and graze on areas throughout the city, including the Uni’s campus!