Sunday, July 31, 2016

"The hills are alive with the sound of music"

Ok so I know it's been a long long time since I’ve blogged. I'll make it brief just to update what been happening.  I arrived in Austria at the end of August to begin my position as a resident assistant at the American International School of Salzburg.  
It's a small school of around a hundred students consisting of grades 7-12, with a mix of both boarding and day students.  I had a few days to explore the city before orientation began and immediately fell in love with the city and the stunning Alps surrounding it. 
I got a bike a couple days after I arrived
 and began exploring the many bike paths and surrounding area. I had visited Salzburg once 10 years ago but didn't remember much and was excited to be here again.  I have always loved the Sound of Music; and as I spend my first couple days wandering the city I stumbled upon some familiar sights.

After a few days, orientation began which consisted of long hours of reviewing both the student and resistant staff handbook, different procedures and protocols and expectations of both staff and students.  

We also spent time getting keys ready and organized, making bulletin boards of school information including information about ourselves, driving to the airport and train station, and long hours preparing for the students to arrive.  After a few days, it was finally time to meet the students and get the school year started.
As RAs, we picked students from the train station and airport, organized paper work, brought them to their rooms where they had to fill out a room forms and so on.  It was a bit crazy during the arrival days. After all of that was finished we had an orientation for everyone and then the next day was the first day of school.
For the first trimester another co-worker and I had our weekends on Thursday and Friday and the other three RAs had theirs on Monday and Tuesday because all five of us work throughout the normal weekend days.  Our typical work days consist of working from the afternoon when the students get out of school until lights out when they go to bed and on Wednesday mornings we are responsible for 2 PE classes.  There are various tasks throughout the day such as running errands for the school to the post office, bank etc, working in the RA office, doing active activities for students that need to make up PE classes or weekend activities, working in the computer lab, or monitoring either the boys' floor or girls' floor landing.
Each weekend we have different activities that we do either by taking the students by bus downtown somewhere or driving them in the vans to various places.  I had an exciting first few weekends where I went with the alpine sports club and had the chance to go both canyoning and ziplining. Others I spent going to English Club. We would go twice a month and work with little kids doing crafts and reading stories. I also had the chance to go summer sledding, went to a park a couple times where the kids get active doing various sports, and led exercise and craft activities on campus.
In September, Salzburg had a traditional country fair called St. Rupert's (Salzburg's patron saint).  I went during on one of my days off and walked around.  It had rides, games and market stalls with crafts and food.  
On another one of my days off, I went to Oktoberfest for the day in Munich, Germany which was just a couple hours away by bus.  It was fun to see and experience such a well-known festival.  The beer halls were enormous and elaborate filled with people drinking, singing at times, and often dressed in traditional clothes. 
Near the end of October, we had a fall excursion with the school to Berlin.  We had only around 35 students who came as the junior class had a service trip to Romania and the remaining students went home. We took a bus overnight and had about 4 days there. Only 3 of us RAs went and the other 2 went with the junior class students on their trip.  We saw some sights such as: Brandenburg Gate, the East Side Gallery, Jewish Museum.  We also did a bus/walking tour, ice skating, and got some time off to eat great food and explore on our own. Our last day was spent at an indoor waterpark outside the city, which was so strange but pretty cool.  After we rode overnight on the bus back to Salzburg.  It was a quite a fun trip!
The last week of October, my mom came to visit for a week.  We spent some time around town.  We got out of the city one day by taking a local tour to the lake district.  
We enjoyed a stop in St. Gilgen where we picked up a boat to St.Wolfgang which were both colorful and gorgeous.  The bright and vivid colors of autumn made the already beautiful scenery even more stunning.  Another day we rented a car and drove to Hallstatt, a quaint lake side village and an UNESCO "World and Cultural Heritage" site.  It was such a beautiful ride and fun to explore some new places outside of Salzburg.

Overall, I've been enjoying my gorgeous home here in Austria. Every time I go downtown I just feel like: I can't believe I get to see this all the time: the grand fortress, stunning churches, mountains, just a beautiful sight to see.

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