Patrick Griffith ’10 – Being in Vienna, I can certainly see why people explain it as a “Big, small city” or a “Small, big city.” It really does have that feel to it! The whole city is easily accessible with the public transportation, but at the same time, from my apartment it takes just as long to hike up to the highest point in Vienna as it does to get to class—about 40 minutes. Its just the inverse of being on campus, a 5 minute walk to class and a 5 minute drive or bicycle ride to the lowest point in Crawfordsville; Sugar Creek.
Through my program, I have been able to attend some various day trips. They have several longer trips available, but I’ve found myself to have great independence when it comes to travel, and more than 2 days with the same people on a bus or train just isn’t my cup of tea. The most recent trip that I went on, however, was a venture into the Wachau region of Austria. The Wachau runs along the Danube, or Donau River and is known for its grapes and apricots that are used to create various liquors and wines. Historically, it is also the location that King Richard the Lion-heart of England was held captive by Duke Leopold V. I was able to hike along the same paths up to the prison cell to get a bird’s eye view of the landscape. It was incredible! I could only compare it to a drive up US 31 in Michigan, which has, in my opinion, the most beautiful stretch of road to drive on.
The other locations in the Wachau region we visited included the Abbey in Melk, the city of Krems, and a local winery in the country outside of Krems. The visit to the Abbey made me glad that I recently added Religion to my list of majors because I was able to see the artifacts and other historical documents and have a general idea of what was going on during that time. The city of Krems wasn’t anything spectacular, although it did provide a great example of what a traditional Austrian city of the past looked like. It was definitely a quaint, enjoyable town. The local winery was an educational experience. Those of us that went on the trip learned the proper ways to go through a wine tasting where we got to sample the 3 types of wine that they make, and we also got to see the process of how wine is made both in the new and old, pre-electric ways.
I’ve been attending an international church while abroad called “International Chapel of Vienna.” Without question, attending that church has provided a great deal of cultural experience in my Faith. I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t expecting to be singing hymns and worship songs in German or to be listening to sermons from a Pastor from the United Kingdom. The youth leader, who is of African descent (his last name is Mwangi), found out that I had helped out with a youth group in Crawfordsville, and convinced me to help him at a youth retreat. It was a grand time and filled in that hole in my life! Although there weren’t any Austrian students, I got to hang out with other students from other countries around the globe including Italy, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Sweden, and Norway. There were American students there, too. The middle school and high school age group is an inquisitive group, but I didn’t mind it—they made me feel right at home.
In top right photo: Griffith has been worked with an International Retreat. He’s in top row, near center, in red t-shirt.