Christmas Holidays and Fifth Month

It’s officially been five months!!

First thing that happened this month was Salzburg weekend with Rotary. It was the last weekend with everyone together since the Oldies, including a lot of my friends are going home this month. Even so, it was still a really great weekend! My favourite memory was skating for the first time in Austria. My friend Caitlin and I joined the other Newbies downtown and skated most of the day away. The Christmas music they were playing on the speakers was the perfect playlist and everyone was so happy! With the sleigh rides going past, the Christmas markets on either side of us and the castle in the background, it was like a travel advertisement! We also had a farewell dinner and awards night for the Oldies(exchange students who came here last January). It was really sad but also fun because everyone dressed up in traditional Austrian clothing. Lederhosen for the boys and Dirndls for the girls! It gave me sound of music vibes walking through the streets of Salzburg(where the movie was filmed) in a Dirndl. After Salzburg weekend we all went back to our host families for the holidays.

Christmas away from home was surprisingly easier than I thought it would be. It was sort of weird because on the day of, I knew it was Christmas but it just didn’t feel like it. Probably just because I wasn’t at home with my family. In a way Christmas was just another day for me here which I will gladly take over being homesick any day. However, the weeks leading up to Christmas Day definitely¬†felt very festive and I would absolutely love to come back to Austria for another Christmas. Christmas is such a magical time in Europe with the markets and lights and old streets. There is honestly nothing like it in Canada.

Austrians celebrate Christmas a little differently here. To start off, they have a whole separate day a couple weeks before Christmas dedicated to Saint Nicholas. On this day, the children in the families hear a bell ringing in the morning and run downstairs to find a sack of gifts, sweets and a letter from Nikolo, and maybe even a surprise in their shoes.

A couple days before Christmas my host dad, my host brother and I went to get the Christmas tree we had picked out on the tree farm a few weeks before! It was my first time having a real Christmas tree in the house that I can remember! It smelt so good that I will have to buy tree scented candles now that it is gone.

Austrians celebrate Christmas on the 24th so on this day my host family and I spent hours and hours cooking and wrapping presents. We prepared the food so fancy it was like a restaurant. By the time everything was finished, it was time to eat dinner. My three host brothers and my host sister and I all got dressed up for the yearly photo in front of the Christmas Tree. Then, we sang German Christmas carols and my host mom played the flute. We were really rusty, especially me because I did not know the songs by heart. I found out Silent Night is actually originally from Austria! After the carolling, we opened presents and then ate dinner. Dinner was a meat and veggie fondue with different homemade sauces as well as eggplant and peppers for an appetizer.

The next morning on Christmas Day, we went to mass. My host family is Christian so it was almost the exact same procedure as Church back home except in German of course. The rest of the day was really laid back, I FaceTimed my family back home and then spent some time with my host family as well.

I’ve been really busy since Christmas. I changed host families on the 29th after driving to a small town where my new host family stayed for the holidays. The town is called Bad Aussee and they own two apartments there for skiing and winter holidays. I have a whole apartment to myself for now but it is great because I am right beside the families apartment if I need them. I settled in really easily with this family, I think because I am getting used to living in other people’s homes. My host mom is the absolute sweetest. I can tell she likes hugs so I’m going to steal one whenever I can because I miss my own mom’s hugs so much that I am going crazy. I also have a host sister named Stephie who I get along with super well. Spending time with her lately has made me realize how much I missed being an older sister and how much of a huge part of me it is. She only speaks German and this has been so helpful for me! Even after a week with her I am already dreaming in German a little bit and speaking it more than I ever did in my last host family. I am really noticing how much my German has improved lately so YAYYY!! I also have two host brothers. Max is ten and the other one is older and moved out so I have not met him yet. I only just met the younger brother a few days ago since he was in Florida with his Aunt! Lucky guy! We also have three dogs. Two small dogs and one big one which is very hard to control. It makes me so grateful for how well behaved my Rocco back home is. I also met my host dad and host Grandmother in Bad Aussee, they are both super nice as well!

I stayed for two nights in Bad Aussee with my new host family and then I was off to Vienna for Silvester with some exchange friends! It was for sure a New Years to remember. We spent the countdown in Stephansplatz with thousands of other people. As we were all walking home, people were setting fireworks off in the streets. I was on FaceTime with my parents at the time to wish them a happy New Year and my mom said it sounded like I was in a war zone ahahah. Since I was in Vienna for a few days, me and a friend visited the Albertina while there was an exhibition on Monet, Picasso and Munch! It was soooo worth the hour long wait outside in the wind(Vienna is always so windy). We got into the museum for free because we are under 18 but even so, there were still so many people outside waiting! I am definitely adding more art museums to my bucket list:) On my last night in Vienna I had to say goodbye to my very best friend Caitlin from New Zealand since she is an Oldie and going home. Broke my heart completely but I know that I will see her again.

After two nights in Vienna I headed back to Bad Aussee. I spent the week Skiing with my host sister. First time skiing in Austria!! Okay, so I know I am Canadian and all but I swear I have never seen so much snow in my life! It was crazy! We were skiing in three meters of snow and the powder was so much fun but very tiring to ski through. My host sister made me look like such an ametur, I could not believe how much energy she had even after we finished each day.

Next weekend we go back to Bad Aussee and I might be trying snowboarding!! But for now we are back in Graz at my host families apartment downtown. I am living right in the city centre now! It is like a movie and I walked home from school today just because I love walking through the streets so much! I even made a happy music playlist for how happy walking downtown makes me.

And that brings us to today! All caught up! Tomorrow I say goodbye to my really close friends Ethan and Jemma from Australia:( Then I just have to wait for my Newbie from Australia to come! She is here in two weeks I believe and she will be going to my school!

Thats all! Here are some photos:)


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