Arrival in Gaming

By Jon|August 18, 2008|Austria|

I prepared in a relatively short period of time to come to Austria. I had to buy a few things but for the most part I was already ready. I arrived at the airport without anything forgotten, pulled up to the curb got out and said goodbye to my Dad. He said, “Another one of Jon’s big adventures indeed…we’ll miss ya bud.” I will too Dad. So I went into the airport and checked by baggage everything on time etc, and arrived at my gate. There I heard a voice behind me, “Hey do you go to Franciscan?” So I met this girl named Trisha who was also going to Austria with me. After talking for a while and making our connections with the local Columbus Catholic circles etc, we boarded the plane at 1PM for DC and soon arrived.

In DC we didn’t see many FUS students right away, but soon they came trickling in piling up next to the departure gate. I got some of my last American food there, a burger and hung out with the group. We got on the Austrian airline plane and were soon airborne. The attendants were excessively friendly and catered to every need. My ticket put me in sort of a corner away from the rest of the students but we were buckled in anyways. I was so excited about leaving the US, not to mention the continent, I must have checked the GPS about every 4 minutes. There were a couple times when Jen Heaps and I attempted to make the onboard seat to seat text messaging work but no dice. A variety of movies played non-stop and I didn’t stick to anyone in particular but saw part of the Dark Knight (The latest batman movie). We were served a hearty meal with the whole works. This is when I began to fall in love with Austria… 8 hours later, and about 1 hour of sleep, we arrived in Vienna at about 7 AM.

After grabbing out luggage we all took off for the bus lead by Father Ron whom we just met. He was a sort of chubby man with a cane but very jolly and happy that we were there. Chris Cooper and I helped him find where our busses were, asking in German… ONce we were all borded on the buses, the anticipation began to build in wanting to see the countryside and the beautiful monastary in which we would be staying. The busgave us our first views of the Austrian countryside–beautiful. I remember not being very uncomfortable with the other students even though I knew probably less than 7 of them (one in particular), when there are 160. There were many windmills on the countryside and I remember specifically taking note of how the trucks were differently built and everything was so much more ‘nature friendly’, everything up to having birds painted on the highway sound barriers. At this time I’m having trouble remembering the conversations I had and with who since it was so long ago now. They were generallyi Hi I’m Jon whats your name and what year are you and what major–just like freshman year again–also the other question…where do you want to travel. I tried to take note, but it ended up that everyone generally wanted to get to the same places anyways.

But I do distinctly remember as we approached Gaming, the ‘tour guide’, later known as Sister Teresa, was describing the towns and the countryside. I noticed that as we got away from Vienna and went south of Amstetten, the mountains began to rise out of the ground and became quite high entering Gaming. They werent like what I had been used to at all in America, they were much more pointy at the top and had a much steeper slope for mountains with trees. We came into Gaming and pulled up at the Kartause after passing the train station and were greeted by dozens of little children (the kids of the faculty) and they were giving us flowers. We all came off the busses and the little children were buzzing around like something out of the Sound of Music. We checked into our hotel rooms, they kept our return plane tickets (because we will lose them apparently) and it seemed just like a hotel. I briefly spoke with Caitlin, the girl I had been talking to over the summer and met my roomates, Brendan Quibedouix (whom I had met in the airport over lunch) and John Paul Shoup (who I knew from my days in the Pre-theologate program). Without unpacking it didn’t take long for me, Paul Hess, Rob and Phil Archambault to go hiking around the countryside–stunning. We stopped at the Spar and grabbed some beer, Kaisar Doppelmalz to be specific. It tasted so good and when I think of the end of the summer in Austria that is the taste that comes to mind because it was my first taste of Austrian beer. Everything was so new and exciting and it felt similar to the first day of college in another world. I began to hang out with Caitlin’s friends basically just because of her but that ended up bringing the other guys to sit with them at lunch everyday too. Funny how God works because by the end of the semester I had had enough and wanted to meet some new people and they remained the most inward (hang out with themselves and only themselves) group in Austria it seemed.
We had a tour of the Kartause by Walter Hildebrand the rennovativg architect. He had someone translate his German into English because he wasn’t good enough–even though he used words like proportionate, exceptional and flying buttresses all the time. He speaks English… There was an opening bonfire social and that was a blast. I met some of Caitlin’s (apparently new) friends, Liz Boylan and Jamie Bugos.

The next day we took a bus to the Danube River valley, to a place called Durrenstein. There is a beautiful castle where King Richard the Lionheart was held captive and Caitlin and I scaled it no problem, really fast. I was looking at everything the whole time because everything was new. Each house was interesting to me because of the way it was built and the different style of living. I didn’t expect it to be so different from America in these little thing because I thought the main points in culture had disolved. It was a great view of the valley and river snaking out into the distance both directions. There were magnificent Churches every where you looked. We climbed on top of the actual castle itself (a ruin) which was quite dangerous, but I wasnt taking chances on not taking chances this semester I had decided. I was thinking too much about what Caitlin would say about dating, and now I realize she didn’t mind dragging it out as long as she could for my attention there….well live and learn.

The next day was informational about everything including cell phones, laundry, the Mensa, books etc. Classes began the next day, August 28. I started in Christian Marriage (almost everyone takes this), Art Appreciation, German I, Civilization I and Christian Moral Priniciples. Within a week I dropped German because things didn’t really get off on a good start and I – and frankly I had just killed myself over the summer cramming Greek in. I needed to review Greek anyways. I took Caitlin hiking and she told me she was having trouble getting to know me and that it wouldn’t work out between us so I asked her to get to know me better and she said ok. So I was bummed out for a few days but I got over it knowing that things aren’t easy. You get turned down more often than not is the general concencus with the guys. If not then we would probably be having the wrong things. I’ve realized since then, after talking to JP and some other guys that she is probably as conservative as they come when it comes to relationships and, though I respect her alot, thats not the way things normally happen, things were way way to formal. But I realized at this time that things can’t be perfect just because I’m in Europe and having the time of my life, a thought which brought me back down out of the clouds of the whole surreal past 72 hours. Nevertheless I essentially caused the merging of the guys and the girls and we ate almost every meal together, me, Brendan, John Paul, Phil, Rob, Paul, Caitlin, Liz, Jamie, Christy and Andrea. We sat at a table that was a wine press and at first we couldn’t figure it out at first so we called it the “man-table” because it looked manly. Manliness is a theme the guys established for the semester–to do something manly is the way to go–. And that was essentially my introduction to Gaming, Austria and Europe.

I made a journal entry on 9/31/08 as follows:
“I arrived in Gaming last week and have finally settled into the culture and am even using my little bit of German I know. I’ve gone to many monastaries; Melk and our own. We toured Vienna yesterday, the Cathedral was impressive, St. Stephens. We also before that went to a spot in the Danube River valley called Durnstein where Richard the Lionheart was was held captive. I made a list of goals for the semester in touring
Must do (and get pictures)
  1. Athens and sea around
  2. Milan, Florence, Venice
  3. Ephasis
  4. Hike in the Black Forest
  5. Switzerland and the Alps (with some extra adventure)
  6. Naples, Vesuvious and Pompeii
Like to do
  1. Skydive, hanglide or bungee jump
  2. Berlin Ampsterdam
  3. See Solemn abby or Lourdes
  4. Climb an alp, play and alphorn
  5. Troy
  6. Paris

About Jon

Jon connects leaders and organizations to Catholic philosophical resources to battle for the soul of the western world.