It was a very busy week for me here in Salzburg. Unfortunately, the semester seems to be coming to a close, which means lots of studying and work to do.
Thursday was Thanksgiving, but it sure didn’t feel like it here in Austria. It makes sense, though, because Austrians don’t celebrate thanksgiving. I went to German class, where towards the end of class our teacher asked us what we would be doing if we were in the states right then. We all talked about the food we would be eating and the time we would be spending with our families, and the discussion kind of ended with a wistful silence where we all thought about the yummy food and good times we were missing.
The study abroad program did have something planned for us American students, though. In the evening we had a dinner with a Mozart concert at the St. Peter’s Abbey. The food was Austrian cuisine from the time of Mozart and it tasted quite interesting, but it was no feast. I don’t like to complain about food much, but when the menu says vegetables, I usually expect more than half a carrot and a piece of Kohlrabi. It was a fun evening, though! The music was great, and it was nice to spend an evening with all of my American friends I’ve made in here.
Earlier on Thanksgiving Day, we had our departure meeting where we got all the information for all of the things we need to do before the semester finishes. Each day the realization that my time in Salzburg is coming to an end is becoming more and more real.
On Friday, I went on my last trip of the semester. It was another program planned trip, and this time we spent a day in Innsbruck, the capital of Tirol. The mountains surrounding Innsbruck are closer and taller than the ones in Salzburg, and it’s such a beautiful town. We took a short walking tour around the Altstadt area, and then had the rest of the day to ourselves. Like most German speaking cities, there was a Christmas market happening in Innsbruck. For the most part, I spent the better part of an afternoon wandering through Innsbruck’s narrow alleys, eating yummy foods from Christmasmarkt stands, and drinking a bit of gluhwein [spiced hot wine] with a few of my study abroad friends.
This weekend, I spent most of my time doing homework because I have three major papers due in the next week and a half, so I spent quite a few hours writing and researching.
On Sunday morning, I decided to attend mass at the Salzburger Dom. I haven’t been to mass in Salzburg since I’ve been here, and I decided that I needed to go to at least one service at the cathedral. I went to the 10 am service, which had full choir, and most of the pews were filled. The section I was sitting in, though, probably had an average age of at least 40 years my senior if not more.
Going to a catholic church in Austria and Germany from my experience is so much different from attending mass in the United States. The cathedrals and churches are very beautiful and in a way, overwhelming and distracting. I found myself looking at the architecture instead of focusing on the actual mass yesterday because the Salzburger Dom is such a beautiful building.
When I go to mass in the United States, there is something much more welcoming about it. When you attend mass in an Austrian or German church, especially during the winter, your coat stays on the whole time because the churches aren’t heated. Even though there are hundreds of beautiful cathedrals and churches in Austria, a much smaller percentage of the population actually attends mass compared to the states.
I party enjoy celebrating mass in German and Austrian churches because they are very beautiful, but they also feel rather intimidating and unfriendly sometimes. I prefer church in the United States because, at least for my parish, it feels like more a community, the building is relatively simple compared to European churches, and warmer. You can actually take off your jacket and be comfortable in my church during the winter. The floors are carpet, and you can’t hear every single tiny movement in the building. This, perhaps, is the reason a greater part of the population attends mass in the States.
The week that lies ahead is another busy one to be filled with last minute errands in Salzburg, studying, editing my papers, and enjoying my last full week in this amazing city.