Take 5: High School in Austria with Bree McCarthy
Bree McCarthy chose to spend a trimester of high school in Austria, a country with both natural and urban beauty. We asked her five quick questions for this week’s Take 5. Kick back and grab some “Gusto” to snack on while you read about her experience!
1. When is the first time you feel like you made a friend?
The first day of school. I didn’t know this then, but the entire class knew my name, and this girl named Sarah walked in and sat down and started asking me all these questions, she was really enthusiastic about American culture and wanted to know everything. I mean EVERYTHING! So I told her everything I could and we wound up going to the mall later that day and spending a lot of time just talking and laughing. It’s a really good memory.
2. Biggest German (language) miscommunication?
When my host sister would speak fast and I just couldn’t follow the conversation. I needed to be spoken to slowly and I needed to speak slowly to them. To communicate efficiently, you also don’t have to always speak correctly. Instead of saying, “My book “Mocking Jay” is exquisite” you can always just point to your book and say “Good” or “Gut’ or “Bien” or whatever their home language is, to express what your feeling. But talk, just keep talking to everyone. Ask them questions, and let them ask questions. The best way to get involved with everything is to just jump in. If you feel excluded from something, then just get involved somewhere else. There are always different things you can do.
3. Best mentor(s) abroad?
My host mother-like person. I didn’t have a host mother, but my host father had a girlfriend and another really close friend. I connected a lot with both of these people, not only because they were around a lot, but also because they knew when I was upset or mad, and they would comfort me or confront me, or give me whatever I needed. And I would listen to their advice and their stories and it was just really good.
4. Favorite Austrian junk food?
Gusto. They are these yellow sponge-like chip things. I LOVED THEM. I miss them. They’re kinda salty, but not, I don’t know, but they were GOOD!
5. Advice for others going abroad?
You can’t prepare for the emotional-ness of it all. I mean, Greenheart Travel tries really hard to prepare you, but you just have to jump in and relax. The happiness and the sadness I felt there was so much bigger than at home. Which is such a good thing, because now I have more perspective. My advice is to just try. What’s the best thing that could happen?