Monday was another full day of classes.

After our German class Annika and I wandered around and visited another church called Karlskirche. It had a beautiful green dome and also pillars on each side that reminded me of Trajan’s Column.

I’ve seen so many churches lately, and yet the more I explore the city the more I’ve come to realize that I probably haven’t even seen half of them!

Near Karlskirche we found this crazy piece of modern art. It was large enough that we could walk under it and there was strange music playing inside. I’ve found that old cities like Vienna seem to have a harmony of old and new. It was a very interesting contrast to see the modern art sitting right next to a very classic looking fountain.

We’ve been exploring the city so much lately that everyone has been noticing how much better we all are at navigating the streets and the city transit. I haven’t had to ask directions in a long time and even had a few people ask me for directions. However, one of the greatest accomplishments here in Vienna is being able to walk by the opera and not get bombarded by men dressed up in wigs trying to sell expensive tourist tickets. We’ve learned that if you look confident in where you’re going, they don’t bother you.

I’ve also been noticing how connected the city is.

You might be thinking, “Of course the city is connected! It’s a city!”, but I mean it in the sense that I’ve been finding shortcuts, realizing that certain roads connect to certain landmarks and overall getting to know the city better. Suddenly the city is feeling a lot smaller. My sense of direction still really sucks, but if I see a place once I can usually get back to it.

After our three-hour break between classes we had our first politics class. A three-hour break might sound nice, but it’s actually hard to find things to do between this time. It’s not enough time to go home, but too much time to just sit around. Most of the time I end up wandering around like I did today.

In politics we began learning about how the Austrian government works. Their elections are different from ours. They vote for a party, not a candidate. Although, it would be easy to say that some people in America do the same thing, the ballots in Austria actually have the name of the party, not the candidate. I’m excited to learn about the differences and similarities between Austria and America, I think it’s going to be an eye-opening experience.

Later that night a film of one of Adele’s concerts was playing at the Rathaus, so we decided to go check it out. We ended up staying for the whole “concert” and it was actually a really great video.

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Tuesday we had only one class and another three-hour break. Annika and I decided to enjoy the sun while it’s still around so we went behind the Institute and sat in the park while eating our lunch. While we were sitting in the grass Annika suddenly jolted up and looked cautiously down at the grass. I asked her what was wrong and she said,

“There’s something in the grass”.

I quickly looked to where she was pointing and saw what had scared her. It was something with a red exoskeleton and a long tail that curled in on itself.

Immediately I thought, SCORPION! It looked so much like a tiny red scorpion that we sat and stared at it for a bit in shock. Cautiously, I peered closer at it and realized that it was not a scorpion, but two dragonflies. I pointed this out to Annika and we both laughed about it. Unfortunately, we had not found the rare Austrian scorpion, nor had we discovered a new species. Perhaps another time.

After our lunch and scorpion encounter we headed over to Cafe Sacher, which is known for their famous Sachertorte, a chocolate cake. The original cake is only sold in Vienna and Salzburg. It was a delicious cake and surprisingly cheap for its popularity and quality. We are lucky enough to have Cafe Sacher, as well as the hotel, right across the street from the Institute and I have a feeling that I’ll return for another slice sometime in the near future.

At 2:00 we had another tour around Vienna. This time we toured three different libraries. We made it to the Austrian National Library, which we discovered is actually in the  Neue Hofburg, the library at University of Vienna and the public library.

The Austrian National Library is a very intense library. You can not take any bags or coats inside the library and you can not remove any books. Although this seems strict for a library it makes sense, since they have so many original documents, even some in Latin.

The books at the University of Vienna can’t be removed either, but it seemed a little more relaxed. We also got to walk around the building and see how impressive the hallways were. There is also, what I’ve been told, a very beautiful auditorium with work from Gustav Klimt, but it was being used for a meeting of some sort. Another thing to add to my list of places to visit again.

The staircases were what impressed me the most. I felt very important walking up those stairs!

The public library was much more relaxed and allows people to check out books for a month.

After the tour we all went to get ice cream and then headed back to our separate apartments to escape the heat.

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Wednesday we decided to find the Hundertwasser Haus, which is similar to the Kunst Haus, but it is an apartment building instead of a gallery. The house was really beautiful. I felt a little bad for the residents though. There were at least fifty people outside and all of them were taking pictures, but I bet it calms down a lot more in the winter.

Naturally, we had to get some more ice cream after such an adventure. The ice cream here is pretty different from the ice cream in America. I wouldn’t say either is better or worse, just different. I tried a flavor called “After Eight”, which turned out to be mint chocolate chip. Not sure why it’s called After Eight, but it does sound fancier.

Later that day I just felt like doing something and so I decided to go for a run. At first I was going to return to Schönbrunn and have fun exploring the gardens some more, but then I realized there’s an entire garden almost directly behind my apartment. So, I went to Augarten. It was really beautiful and I’ll have to return to take photos another time.

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