by Sarah Gourevitch, Greenheart Travel High School Student in Austria
There are so many wonderful aspects of my host culture in Austria, it’s hard to pick just a few to write about. For one, I really like the relaxed vibe, which is visible in every park and café. People seem to take the time to really enjoy whatever they’re doing—it’s hard not to in such a beautiful city! On a similar note, I like that most everything is closed on Sundays. It took some getting used to, but I think it’s nice that Sunday is a day to relax, spend time at home or with family and friends (instead of running errands or going shopping!).
Markets are another favorite aspect of my host family. There seems to be a market (or a “Markt”, in German) for every occasion. I went to a couple Easter markets—one at Schönbrunn Palace and one just outside of Vienna—which were a lot of fun. There were many intricately painted Easter eggs for sale, much like we sell Christmas ornaments in the US. There was also lots of good food—hot teas and sugar coated nuts and a new treat I tried called “Gebackene Mäuse”. This directly translates to “baked mice”, but no mice were involved… just yummy savory balls of fried dough. Today, I went to a flower market about a two hours drive West of Vienna with my host family. There they were selling plants, herbs, flowers, and garden decorations (and of course coffee and cake, too!). There’s also the famous “Naschmarkt”, which is the largest market in Vienna. There you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables and also international cuisine. There’s also a flea market (Flohmarkt) there on Saturdays—flea markets seem to be quiet popular here! Even though I arrived towards the end of January, people were still talking about the incredible Christmas markets. I’ll definitely have to return to Vienna one day to see those!
Balls are another really wonderful part of Austrian culture. There’s a whole ball season and anyone can buy tickets to whichever ball they wish to attend. Last weekend, I attended my school ball (Schulball)! I had lots of fun shopping for my ball gown and shoes with my host sister and more fun getting ready before the ball with my host aunt. Each ball is opened by a Waltz, and then the floor is opened to others—it was so fun to watch my classmates dance! In addition to the ballroom, there were several smaller rooms and a disco in the basement of the venue. It was certainly a night I’ll remember, and a true part of my host culture.