My host family is a single mom with two kids. Valerie (13) and Oliver (10). The family has been very welcoming and the children especially have been very open. Valerie knows a little bit of English, which she loves to try with me.

My bedroom is small, but just the right size for me. I also have a nice living room off of my bedroom and then the hallway goes out to the laundry room and bathroom. The rest of the apartment is very modern looking and also a little messy from all the toys and clothes. It reminds me a little of home.

The view outside my window and also the way I walk to the Institute every morning.

That morning when everyone woke up it was already hot, so we decided to go swimming in the Alte Donau.

For Vienna the Danube was and still is a very important river. It is the only major river in Europe that runs from West to East, which means that it was a popular place for trade.

When the Romans where settled here the Danube was also the border of the Empire. They set up fortifications or Limes along the river to protect their territory. When Vienna was first built, it was built right along the Danube, which used to have a lot more offshoots. Now, the river has been diverted into only three different arms. The Donaukanal, the Donau (with man-made island in the middle, which is good for running and biking) and the Alte Donau.

The small rocky beach was crowded when we arrived. Everyone was out in the water that day. However, we were able to find a small spot in the shade. I’ve never liked crowded beaches and having people right on top of me, but it was a nice experience and you never know who you might sit next too. I happened to sit next to a three-year-old boy who decided I was the most interesting person in the world and we rolled his ball back and forth until he decided the water was his new favorite thing.

The water was cold, but thanks to the Oregon Coast I was used to swimming in something a lot colder and once you got moving it was the perfect temperature. The water got deep fast, but I swam out to a small dock in the middle of the river and the children and I entertained ourselves by jumping off the dock and playing tag.

We spent almost four hours out in the sun and by the time we came back to apartment at 5:30 we were all exhausted.

A nice dip in the river was the perfect way to spend my first day back in Vienna.