January was slow; February was quick; but March was the blink of an eye. With flights and hostels in Spain booked for Easter break, I was already planning ahead to the other upcoming breaks in May. My weekends were more local in Linz with hikes and I continued with the usual week's activities: tandem, Swedish, sleep, Facebook, work etc.
Two highlights in March were the Upper Austrian and Austrian National Language Competitions and the AFS pre-departure camp. For the language competitions, I served as an English Juror. These Austrian high school students were the cream of the crop! It was uplifting to observe students with a genuine passion for language. Some students even participated the switch competition, in which they had to go back and forth between English and a second foreign language, either French, Spanish, Italian, or Russian. For the AFS camp, I'm happy to volunteer with the organization that got me started on my international path when I can. This group of people is more like a family than a network, so the fun, jokes, and discussions were endless. After this weekend, I could say with confidence that I understand the Upper Austrian "Mundårt" dialect pretty well.
My advancing German would prove helpful as I got to Spain. Although I was traveling solo, it's almost always possible to meet people along the way. I met a Bavarian by the name, Andrea, with whom I explored a fair amount of Barcelona, my first stop in this multi-city tour. The whim of Gaudí sprinkled throughout the city was refreshing. And I was happy not to fall victim to Barcelona's high petty theft rates. The tapas were heavenly, the Sagrada Familia was surreal, and the tours and information were mind-blowing. One "alternative" tour in particular shifted my perspective on the infrastructure of virtually every city I can think of. Under the guide's motto, "Same shit, different toilet," he brought to light the not-so-bright side of cities where the poor are undermined. With that, I suggest that we try to understand another person's situation before jumping to conclusions. Think about it: can you really ever see the whole picture?
Explorations around Linz and Salzburg
Spring in Spain (Easter break)