“Oh, Betsy!” was the exclamation going around the tour group. The fifteen of us were in Salzburg, Austria, and my best friend ran into a pole–with her face. When she first hit it, we thought that it was mildly humorous, and then we saw the side of her face drip blood. Luckily, three of us were lifeguards back home, and we fixed her up with tons of gauze. Frau, as called by her German students, then examined her and said that the cut (just above her ear) was a little deep, so she and Betsy, escorted by me and my other best friend, went by taxi to the Salzburg hospital.
Talk about an educational experience. While at the hospital, we learned the German words for “X-ray room” and “Wound Care” and all about how universal health care works. We also got to see our teacher demonstrate her “spit-fire” German-speaking skills. Everyone in the hospital was very nice and understanding, but we were there for over three hours, most of the time spent waiting. When she finally got sewed up, Betsy came out tired-looking but certainly in a better state than before. We went back to Hotel Astoria and each ate an entire pizza.
That was only the second day of trip to what was to be a tour of Europe. For the next fifteen days, the thirteen German students and two chaperones saw Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Prague, and finally what we had been waiting for: Munich, Germany. The trip was incredible; it is a completely different culture, more appreciative of beautiful art, architecture, music, and absolutely amazing food. Our German improved tenfold because we were so immersed in the language, and our map-reading skills became pretty sharp as a basic necessity for survival.
The last few days were spent in a series of small villages, namely Ruethen, as a student exchange program. I feel that I learned more from those five days about German culture than my four years of studying combined.. I am now friends with the girl I stayed with, as well as many of her friends. It was a great time.
Most importantly, I fell in love with Europe and cannot wait to go back. In fact, a deciding factor in my college search is whether the university offers study abroad programs because my plans are to study opera in Austria for a semester. I am so glad that I got the opportunity to go this summer. It opened my eyes to many new and wonderful things.
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