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Craig's Experience in Wales A personal documentation of my journey as an exchange student in Great Britain

I've got the biscuit!

AUSTRIA | Monday, 23 April 2007 | Views [1264] | Comments [1]

As I sit here and write this now, I am not sure if it is 5:50 in the morning or at night. When I told people what I was doing for my month break, they informed me that my body was going to be confused beyond belief. I didn’t believe them nor did I pay much attention to the reality of what I was planning to do. And now I am feeling that reality: this morning when I woke up it felt like 3 in the afternoon. I went to bed so late last night — around 2:30 — because I just wasn’t tired and couldn’t manage to fall asleep. Yet this morning when I woke up at 9 a.m. it was as though I had just slept for days. And now, at 5:55 p.m., my body is telling me that it’s one in the morning. I feel like I could fall asleep right now yet at the same time I don’t want to because I need to sleep later tonight. It’s like my body has a brain of its own and is confused if it’s supposed to be 10 hours ahead or 10 hours behind or perhaps one hour ahead or one hour behind? I talked to the international student advisor here at Swansea today to have some papers faxed over to OU. She gave me some advice after hearing about all my travel throughout break. She told me to take a few days to relax, get my body situated again, eat well, sleep and just take it easy. I just smiled as I thought it was incredibly kind that she cared so much about my own well-being. It actually turns out that she’s a strong believer in Christ and somebody that I confided in when I needed advice about finances for my traveling. But when she gave me this advice today, I didn’t really think twice about what she had said. Until now. I think some rest and relaxation will be good for my body in adjusting. And staying away from anything pastry/bakery related is most likely a good move. But I believe I’ve built up a semi-addiction to bakeries… I suppose one could say it has become my nicotine. Oh, and she did say one thing to me that my ears quite enjoyed hearing. After telling her that I traveled to Australia, Austria, and Switzerland over break, she had somewhat of a surprised look on her face. “Well,” she said, “I think you get the biscuit for traveling,” she said. The biscuit… hmm… while I knew what she meant, I couldn’t help but get an image in my mind of a man in a well-tailored three-piece suit handing me a trophy in the shape of a golden biscuit. She then told me how there was once somebody who traveled to 26 European countries over the month long break. But she went on to tell me that she felt visiting two continents was even more impressive. Needless to say, I left that office with a bit of a smile on my face and bounce in my step. The biscuit was mine… so incredible what God can show you in one month, isn’t it? But right now, as of this moment of typing, I don’t feel like doing anything at all right now. You have to understand that this isn’t very normal for me. I don’t think my energy level is high enough to do anything except to type up this entry. This morning and afternoon were productive, though, as I sorted out some things that needed to be done such as grocery shopping. Right now it’s like my body is in REM sleep but my mind is completely functional and awake. I feel like a blob. So right now this blob will begin to talk about its recently incredible experience in Austria and Switzerland…. Boy, I really don’t know where to begin with this whole trip. I suppose the beginning always makes sense, so I’ll just start from there! While I was at the YoHo International Youth Hotel in Salzburg, Austria for my final night on April 21st, I calculated how many hours of travel that I’ve accumulated over the past month. With planes, trains, and buses altogether, I have traveled over 100 hours, have been to two continents and used four different types of currency in the pound sterling, euro, swiss franc and Australian dollar. Of all my qualities I believe that the characteristic of “patience” has been most…ummm…enhanced. It got to the point at the end of the trip where a 4.5-hour bus trip from London to Swansea didn’t sound too long at all. If anything it sounded quite short compared to my all-time high of a 12-hour plane ride from London to Malaysia. Now let me do you the favor of discussing my impressions and experiences while in the Austrian and Swiss Alps. My first glimpse at the Alps will be a memory that’s engrained in my mind forever. After a long day of traveling from Swansea to London and London to Salzburg, I arrived at the YoHo Youth Hotel at around 11:30 p.m. My first bit of humor occurred early on as I had quite an adventure trying to even find the hostel. The man at the information section of the airport said that it would be easy to find, yet somehow I didn’t think that would be the case. I had hopped on train 2 as told, and asked the bus driver to tell me when to get off after I told him where I needed to be. Well, as I expected, the driver forgot I was on the bus and made it all the way to where the buses park for the night and turned off the lights while I was still on. I walked up to the front where he was and (knowingly) asked him if this was where I was to get off. He didn’t speak very good English, so his response in broken, thrown-together English was hard to understand. Luckily he pointed and I understood. He directed me to another bus that would take me to where I needed to go. I hopped on that bus and the guy backtracked a good 10 minutes from where the other guy was to let me off. I thought I was done but that driver told me in actually pretty good English to walk towards another bus with him. I waited at his side as he spoke in German to the next bus driver and, I assume, told him where I needed to be and asked if he could take me there. For all I know, though, they could have discussed the impact of global warming and gas emissions in the middle-eastern section of Saudi Arabia. My point is that when you don’t speak a language you feel so incredibly out of the loop. So anyway, I then hopped on that bus and the driver led me to someplace on the side of a road and said that I just had to go under the bridge straight ahead and make a couple turns. Needing some more details but just wanting to get off a bus, I hopped off and said thank you. I then walked under the bridge as he said and found myself about as confused as humanly possible. None of the street names made sense as they were all in German and all the buildings looked similar and there really weren’t a whole lot of people around to ask questions. Luckily I walked into a hotel and asked for directions. They gave them to me and I was pleased, but immediately found myself lost once more when I walked out of the hotel and forgot if it was a left or right that I needed to take. “Well,” I thought, “at least I’m here in Salzburg. It must be around somewhere”… but I was getting a headache and was just wanting a place to rest for the night. Eventually, after wandering around for awhile, I found a Swiss couple walking in the streets and asked them for directions as I showed them my map. They didn’t know where to go, either, so they led me to the coffee shop that they were originally going to. The man insisted that I get coffee with them and that they would pay. I said no thanks and that I just wanted a bed, but the man even went to the point of grabbing the sleeve on my shirt and saying that they would pay and insisting I stay. I smiled and quickly left as another guy walked out with me and pointed to where I needed to go. I thanked him and continued to walk, but just like the pattern from before I found myself lost. Quite frustrated, I somehow managed to find the right street: “Paracellsustrasse”. “Thank you, God,” I managed to utter under tired breath and mild headache. As I walked down the street I saw two young guys and asked if they knew where the youth hostel was. Feeling as though I was getting warm, they pointed in front of me and said, “Oh, the YoHo is right there. Is that what you want?” “Ahhhh…yeeeessss..” I said as I walked toward the building and through its gates. Then it all became very ironic and humorous. I laughed to myself, quickly realizing that humor was going to be a necessity on this trip. The sign on the front of the hostel read: YOHO INTERNATIONAL YOUTH HOTEL: EASY TO FIND, HARD TO LEAVE Ha… I knew that the first bit wasn’t true so I was banking on the second part being accurate. I went to bed that night in sound sleep. I woke up the next morning quite early and headed downstairs for breakfast. It turned out that the hostel was awesome—and reasonably priced as well. It was really clean, the rooms were large and had huge security lockers that used electronic cards to open and close, the staff was really nice, the breakfast was priced reasonably and even allowed you to eat as much cereal and rolls as you’d like (which is highly beneficial when everything you eat is from bakeries, cafes and the like). So after the breakfast I headed outside and through the gates that I had entered in the night before. I immediately turned to my right and looked up. “Uhhhh….. oh my gosh. You’ve got to be kidding me,” I thought to myself as my gaze met a magnificent view of the Alps. Towering as high as the sky itself, the mountain I was staring at seemed to be gazing right back down at me. Part of me wanted to believe that that mountain had been waiting twenty years to say good morning to me. It was a perfect moment—one that I will recall for years to come. The mountain I was mesmerized at had snow-capped peaks and was as picturesque as anything I’d ever seen. I continued walking, heading toward the Mirabell Gardens that the receptionist at the hostel said would be a “beautiful walk through to the old town”. And let me tell you that the Mirabell Gardens is perhaps one of the most beautiful places that I have ever walked through in my entire life. As I mentioned in one of my prior entries, I am a complete sucker for flowers. This trip has also solidified the fact that I have absolutely the biggest soft spot for babies, dogs and flowers. I can’t explain it but somehow flowers can speak to me just as powerfully as a majestic mountain range. My thoughts and descriptions of the Garden, though, will be included in my next entry. When thinking of how to go about writing on this trip, I figured it would be best to do it in sections. So let’s consider this section one of my Austria/Switzerland adventure. There is more to come! God Bless! Every day I think about home and OU and my friends and family. I miss you all and greatly anticipate the day when we see each other again. All my love… Philippians 1:3, Craig ☺

Tags: Adventures



Hey Craig,
I have been meaning to write you, I have been thinking about you and praying for you ever since you left! I just read through your entries and I'm about to look through your pictures, Im really excited to see them! Anyways hopefully we can catch up soon on Skype. Thank you again for visiting us, we had so much fun. I loved the video you made at Caves Beach and all your other videos from the reptile park, watching them filled our tiny house up with warmth and laughter. Can't wait to see you again! I pray that God will continue to reveal Himself to you in new and wonderfully beautiful ways each and every day!!

  Katie Apr 25, 2007 8:48 PM

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