This is from a series originally posted on my original blog: Seefahrer Thayer. While I don't recommend it, you can view the original posts here. Because the content had value and useful tips I've decided to repost them here, however, they've since been heavily edited and updated.
Haven't been any deserts to cross... but there's been just about everything in-between.
Anyway, I've been not very nice to ya'll the last few days. I deeply apologize.
Lemme catch ya up!
My next destination was Venice... lemme just say, I loved it. Absolutely beautiful place, with wonderful people. Older men kept stopping me in the street to tell me how pretty I was and to ask if they could buy me coffee or dinner or drinks. It was great. Even though I foolishly declined every invitation.
Both days I just kinda wandered around the city, went to Piazza San Marco... which was... wow. When the street I was on emptied into the square my facial expression just dropped. It was absolutely incredible.
I did a lot of shopping in Venice, but mostly just walked around watching the people a lot. Hung out with some girls from Texas, Canada, and Australia, as well as some youngsters from the UK (one of which shares the same birthday with me!)
So the first night I paid the staff 5 euros and had dinner at the hostel along with bottomless homemade sangria. It was delicious... and lots of fun hanging out and drinking with the staff. One of them had a tattoo I never got an answer to, reading: "meow, that is the noise a cat makes." Second day I was more on my own- everyone in my room checked out, but I had a nice day just walking around, and I got dinner from a fancy restaurant, and the manager gave me a free shot of lemon... something because I said it was my birthday (hey it was my last day of vacation and the day before my birthday). And then he short changed me 10 bucks... but I realized before I managed to walk very far and went back and he apologized profusely and then told me to come back at closing and he'd give me a bunch of drinks for my birthday. I told him sure, but didn't go... so it's the second Mario I've ditched this trip. I should probably know better than to disrespect Italians in their own country.
So anyway, I drank with the people at the hostel, they made me stay up since it was my birthday even though I was completely exhausted. Then around midnight we went to a bar close by, I had my first legal drink and went home and passed out. The trip was definitely starting to take a toll on me. Exhaustion completely set in.
The next day (my birthday!) I left Veinice at 6:30 on a train for Innsbruck. It was a somewhat crazy train day- it took like 5 hours to get there, and two connections. Some woman in my compartment started yelling at the train attendant in French because she wanted her visa... but I got to hear an Italian say "Mamma Mia!" as a result. So well worth the incredibly awkward two hours that followed.
On the last train into Innsbruck I sat next to a little girl, who was totally adorable, and taught her how to play "Fastball" on my phone, drew her a picture, and taught some English. She gave me, I guess, what would be the European equivalent of a Twinkie- which was a packaged croissant with cream filling- it was really nice since I was about ready to pass out from hunger.
Anyway, finally got to Innsbruck in one piece... and it was drizzling. I was able to find the university without much trouble, even with the distraction of the mountains. I pretty much got in and threw my bag off and unpacked. It felt so good to settle down.
We went to orientation... which was a complete nightmare. I understand why Europeans have a negative impressions of us. The majority of the group (not the UNO kids) acted like children. The best description I've gotten about how the group flight went was "it was like drunk kids on a school bus, no one could stay sitting, people were yelling to each other from across the room and throwing stuff." So glad I wasn't there. At orientation they kept complaining, and making dumb comments, or randomly yelling out "penis".
At opening ceremony last night we had the honor of having the US Ambassador of to Austria, as well as a string quartet and several other honorary guests. It was a really lovely ceremony. The quartet playing "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" which was absolutely gorgeous... and of course was unbearable to the group of students mentioned earlier. The girl in front of me started goofing off, then turned around and attempted to stare me down. So I stared back.
The reception after was really nice, a great jazz band played, lots of food and drinks, and which a gorgeous alpine backdrop. Later me and the guys went out for drinks and pool at this really neat billiards hall that reminded me of an airplane hangar.
Overall, great couple of days. Really busy but good. Today we started classes, and I'm really excited to get going. Being in Europe has definitely inspired me to buckle down and educate myself as best as I can, and take advantage of all of the opportunities around me. I've grown much more eager and curious and I can't wait to tackle Europe and classes over the next 7 weeks. I can already tell it's going to pass way too fast and I'm already dreading going home.
Innsbruck is unbelievable.