My trip to Denmark went really well and I had such a great time with Mathias, his family and his friends. I was lucky enough to stay with him in his hometown of Hørnslett, just outside of Aarhus, where I met with his father, his sister and his step-mother. All very nice people who were warm and welcoming towards me. Upon arrival, Mathias took me out for lunch, and then we had to attend a ‘tough-man marathon’ in which we helped set up and organise the event as to ensure everything ran smoothly. It was terribly cold and wet, however I managed to stick with some of Mathias’ classmates who provided good company. We also travelled to the west coast in Mathias’ car, so that we could visit his mother who lives there and check out the beaches and a different section of Denmark that I would have otherwise not seen. Again, his mother and step-father were exceptionally nice people and in the sense of being in Denmark, we ate a lot of raw fish! We also stumbled across dozens of huge concrete bunkers which lay in ruins along the coastline, protruding out of sand dunes and scaring the landscape. They were built by the Germans during the Second World War and we had a lot of fun exploring inside them. I also developed an obsession with a Danish chocolate milk called Cocio while in Denmark, which is probably one of the best drinks I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. We visited many small fishing villages together, went for long walks and played monopoly together. Mathias even showed me a very good Danish film, set on the Danish west coast where we were, about how they used German prisoners to clear the beaches of Denmark of land-mines. Mathias and I then travelled back to his hometown of Hørnslet, and we met up with his friend Asgar who I soon established a friendship with aswell. On one occasion, Mathias had to work in the evening at the local supermarket and so Asgar took me out to the gym, saving my from boredom, and he also took me to a beach and a local castle. I also went clubbing with the two of them. Upon the second last day in Denmark I met with Emil, Mathias’ older brother, who drove with us down to Copenhagen the day before my flight back to Austria. We stayed with Mathias’ uncle who was an exceptionally nice man and an even better cook! We had the best spinach soup I have ever had and we had substantial conversations over the dinner table that night. The next morning we all said our goodbyes and I travelled to Copenhagen with Mathias and Emil to do some sightseeing. All in all it was really nice to see Mathias again and see the way in which he lives his life, after having had him in New Zealand where I was the one doing the ‘showing.’ We have already made plans to meet up again soon and I look forward to that with great eagerness.
I returned to Sankt Veit / Glan on Saturday, the same day as my Matura Ball, in which I would perform a waltz with my dance partner, Anna Wister. We met up beforehand were we desperately practiced the routine a handful of times to ensure I would not embarrass the two of us on stage later than night. Anyway, it all went very well and everyone had an exceptionally awesome night. The dance went well, and we even performed a hip-hop dance routine at midnight which proved to be great fun. My host family was there, and everyone was dressed so smart, so it was quite impressive for them. Jim also attended the ball with his family as guests, and it was really nice. The next morning I had a game in Vienna with my rugby team, however I unfortunately overslept and let the team down to which I feel very guilty about. We have a training tomorrow night, and then a game against Leoben on Saturday in Klagenfurt and I hope I am able to redeem myself and make it up to all the guys there. My coach was quite annoyed but understandably so.
The month of October was exceptionally busy, and I was constantly preoccupied by many different amazing things and opportunities. The Monday after my ball, I travelled north to the city of Linz alongside Jim and Ricardo – two other exchange students in my state of Kärnten. We were heading off to stay with J-Max in preparation for the start of the Rotary organised event titled ‘City-Tour.’ We stayed the night in Linz and then very early in the morning, boarded a bus by the main station, and began a very long journey towards Prague. There we had a guided city tour of the castle, the narrow streets and a handful of famous cathedrals and bridges. The city was much larger than I had imagined it to have been, with roughly 2 million people and packed with tourists, it was busy and vibrant. The skyline of Prague is also littered with thousands of spires and red-roofed buildings which give it a distinct, yet beautiful, appearance. We were granted free time – which became the norm in every city we visited on this trip – and so Jim, Gui and I seized the opportunity to grab some food and explore some more of the streets. That same day, we were back on the bus heading for Dresden – my favourite of the three cities visited. Arriving in the dark, I was shuffled down the street with the general crowd of us, all in all roughly 70 exchangers, towards the hotel. I ended up sharing a room with Sam from New Zealand, and we surprisingly managed to fall asleep relatively early. The next day we were chaperoned around the city by a German tour guide who took us to all the sites and tourist attractions one would expect to visit in Dresden. She was a very nice lady and helpful with our questions, telling of the history in a very accessible manner. The city of Dresden was severely bombed by the Americans in the Second World War, and not much managed to survive the bombings, however the grand cathedrals and a few palaces within the old city survived. It was such a nice city to be in, and we could navigate ourselves around the whole city within an afternoon, which we did during our granted free-time. Lastly we heading for the capital of Germany, Berlin itself. Rich with an exceptionally interesting history, we spent four hours on a guided bus tour and visited many infamous landmarks such as the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall, and Checkpoint Charlie. We luckily had two nights in the capital and so managed to see a great deal of the city, I even had the chance to buy a handful of souvenirs including a T-Shirt from Checkpoint Charlie and a handful of stickers. I managed to even squeeze in a tour of a grand museum within the Museum island situated in the heart of the city, near to the Berlin dome. I toured the city with Jim, Owen and Kenna. It was such a wonderful experience, and although it was a very busy 4 days, we managed to see an incredible amount of things as-well as spending time with my exchange friends.
As of now I am heading back to school tomorrow after so long away, and such a long school break over the Halloween weekend. I am excited to see everyone again and get a sense of routine back after so much travelling. I have also started to workout at the gym again regularly. My host family are making my exchange exceptionally enjoyable and are very kind and sweet. I am under the impression that we get on well! Looking forward, I am busy organising all the documentation and enrolment information so that I may begin selecting my courses at the University of Auckland. I am going to be so deeply upset to say goodbye to my life here in Austria within the coming two months, however I know that this experience is going to come to an end, and so with that in mind I am eager and willing to move forward with my life and the amazing experiences which await me in the future.