Some Notable ‘Firsts’

All of these happened last week but ayyy time is just a human construct so does it really matter?

First Museum!! So I have walked through the streets of Vienna countless times before finally finding a time to go IN to the beautiful buildings and Museums. I chose the Kaiserliche Schatzkammer (Imperial Treasury) as my first destination and it was stunning. I loved looking at all the antiquated and magnificent treasures, but at one point I just became disgusted. There was so much wealth, such grandiose displays of power and riches and it all just seemed so unnecessary and excessive. Especially when considering the lives of the ordinary people living under Habsburg rule, it is grotesque to think of these people financing the creation of extravagant object after extravagant object instead of using those funds to help their people. 20050134_1430165420410858_101513318_o

Picture Descriptions in Order: 1) Me at the door to the treasury 2) The various keys to the treasury, an honor to be held 3) I can’t remember 4) Maria Theresa portrait, she was an incredible ruler who made lots of domestic reforms and diplomatic moves that greatly helped her people 5) Potence of the Order of the Golden Fleece 6) What everyone thought was a UNICORN HORN but what we now know is a narwhal horn, yay science, thanks for crushing our fantasy dreams 7) What historians think is the “Holy Grail” 8) This thing from Medieval times picturing a lion crushing a camel 9) Cool jewelry, 10/10 would wear 10) I’ve seen this painting of Napolean so many times in books and was really excited to see it in real life!!! 11) Napolean’s son’s crib, a super expensive gift given to them 12) I don’t remember but it looks cool 13) The Crown Jewels themselves! including “The Most Beautiful Crown in the World”

First Austrian Beer- Thoughts: Beer is gross. I know my ancestors are rolling in their graves and that I should not mention this sentiment around the Austrian, German, or Czech people, and I understand there is an incredible science and artistry that goes into beer making but honestly, it tastes like slightly carbonated, sour water and I am not a fan. 20046201_1428706047223462_206153523_n

First Swim in the Danube! The Danube runs through Vienna and has lots of different sections and uses. The Donauinsel is the largest man-made island in the world and splits the Donau into a commercial (aka lots of ships) part and a recreational part. Swimming here is a blast and there are lots of docks to jump off of. The Donauinsel is so long that there are literally miles of space for people to lounge on the waterside so it is easy to get away from the crowds. img_1483.jpg

First Local Bäckerei: I finally went to my neighborhood bakery which is literally um die Ecke from where I live and doesn’t even have a name, just a big sign that says “Bäckerei.” It was so good and cheap and I got to read some newspapers written in German and just felt content overall 😀20292345_1440196339407766_970647425_n

First Time Wearing Long Sleeves! You all won’t understand how important this was. Vienna is hot this summer. Extremely hot. I feel like this city is trying to melt me. Changing clothes and taking showers midday are a regular occurance. BUT one day it was rainy, windy, and almost, temperate? I was finally able to wear some of the clothes I brought that I never thought would see the light of day here. img_0733.jpg



Updates Whoo!

I haven’t written in a while, I apologize (mostly to my parents who would prefer getting some sort of information every day). However today I was feeling sick so I’m taking a sort of rest day and catching up on some errands and school-related things.

I have been extremely busy (wow, shocker, Melissa has never been busy ever in her life) with work and non-work related things and have been having a blast!

Right now I am meeting with different people to try and figure out approximately what I will be doing the rest of the time I am here. There is lots of work to be done and people that need assistance so ironing out those particulars takes some time.

A lot of the staff that was gone for various conferences and writing-masters-theses-in-the-countryside expeditions are starting to return and the planning for some large events in August and September has begun! I am so excited to start working on more long-term projects and getting to meet all these wonderful people!

I will do a longer post about the actual work I have been doing and the organizations I’m working with and all of the details of that at some point so stay tuned! There is a lot to discuss and I want to make sure I give it the time and attention it deserves.

I have been averaging about 12 miles of walking a day and have loved getting to explore the city, especially at night when it isn’t so deathly hot and there aren’t so many tourists everywhere.

Tomorrow marks the completion of my 3rd week here and I still cannot believe that much time has already passed. It seems like I just arrived yesterday, yet at the same time I feel like I am really getting to know this city, its character, and its people. img_0736.jpg

Insider Tour >

One of the women from Projekt Gemeinde took me and one of the interns on an insider tour of the Innerstadt! It was one of my favorite things I have done out in the city so far!

She grew up in Vienna and has lived in multiple districts, it was amazing to hear all she knew about the history of certain areas, the architecture, and of course the best places to get food and drinks!


The top of Stephansdom! Awesome view of the city, 343 stairs (does not hold a candle to the Manitou Incline). Unfortunately, it was raining so all the pictures are dark and brooding. Still worth the ₡4.5 though

Tea! Haas&Haas Teehaus is one of my favorite places in Vienna. Look at how cute it is! The tea list is very extensive and one pot of tea has about 3 cups worth and is a very reasonable price. They also host afternoon teas and have food options as well. We had tea and chatted here while the rain poured, still able to sit outside because of the canopy above us. It was absolutely lovely! Also we decided we would meet here once a week for tea and German practice which I am SO looking forward to!!

Eis is pretty big here. It seems that there are shops on every street, especially as you get closer to the city center. Because of this, I had to ask about the best Eis places in Vienna. The kind woman gave me a whole list of her favorites and the historic/classical ones to visit as well.


First Eis! Schwedenplatz ist ausgezeichnet!

And more!


Ruprechtskirche, arguably the oldest church in Vienna, built before the 12th century


Vienna used to be a walled city. The inner and outer walls were removed around 1850 and roads were built in their place. The lay of the city still clearly revolves around the Ringstraße



First Sunday Service

It looks like Sundays will be the days I work the most here!


3 Interns in the picture, 1 behind the camera

Projekt Gemeinde is on a bit of a weird schedule for the summer, normally they offer a Spanish service and other programs on Sundays but during the summer the schedule is: Farsi Bible Study, lunch with the Farsi community, Farsi service, prep for German service, German service, dinner with the German community, and then more community time. It is basically a wonderful marathon of a day!

The Farsi speaking service is really cool. One of the pastors preached in English and then it was translated into Farsi for the congregation. Hearing Farsi worship songs was also really cool. Farsi and Arabic share some words so it was fun to pick those out of the songs and the message! It was so wonderful meeting the Farsi-speaking members of Projekt Gemeinde! I look forward to doing more projects within that community and getting to know them and their stories.


For the German service, one of the pastoral assistants was kind enough to translate for me and another intern so we could understand the message. I was surprised that in the German service they sang some worship songs in English.

I can already feel my time here passing quickly, tomorrow will mark my first week after leaving Colorado Springs!

First Day of Tourism Wonders

So much in one Saturday!


One of the other interns has only been in Vienna for a couple of weeks which is great because we can do tourist and discovering-Vienna things together! Today we went on a free walking tour which was wonderful! Our guide took us to many of the most important locations and talked about the history of certain features in the city and gave us descriptions of many of the buildings. This was great because it helped me narrow down which museums, cathedrals, and galleries were on the top of my list to pay to enter.

We asked for a good (affordable) place to get Wiener Schnitzel because it’s a must-do



After that it started raining so we ducked into a cafe to get coffee. Just picture it, two foreign tourists who are absolutely soaked entering a cramped, schwanky coffee shop with high browed customers reading newspapers. The drinks were expensive so we waited out the rain and then left. I showed the intern around the Naschmarkt which is right next to my Studentenheim! We then saw the sign for Cafe Museum which is one of the other intern’s favorite coffee shops so we decided to try it out.


Cafe Museum ended up being extremely expensive (even more than the first one we had left earlier that day) but we decided to stay because it is well-known for being a classic Viennese coffee destination. It has been around since 1899 and was an artistic meeting place for many great historically important figures like the artist Gustav Klimt (creator of ‘The Kiss’), Peter Altenberg, and many others.

I ate dinner with two of the interns which was lovely and then went to a rooftop meetup for expats living in Vienna. It was fantastic, there were so many lovely people there from all over the world. We got to hang out on the roof of this one woman’s apartment and watch the sunset and the people were so kind and open. I was also really excited because the first group of people I started talking with had 3 Arabic speakers! I got many recommendations for places to eat and things to do around the city, and they are going to have more meetups in the future!

Shopping not Dropping

Today was really nice!

19873927_1424359740991426_1177182871_nMy roommate went shopping with me in Mariahilfer Straße, a huge commercial and shopping center that is only a few minutes walk away from our Studentenheim! There are so many different stores here and it was so nice having Nicole tell me which ones were cheaper and which ones had better quality clothing. Everything is on sale now, which is nice but it seems like everything is extremely expensive still. There is a place in the city where you can buy secondhand clothes for much cheaper so I think we will go there later!

19866476_1424359760991424_1969727353_nShopping was lovely, there were musicians performing music and the modern shop buildings are right next to traditional buildings and it is a wonderful atmosphere. It is fun to see the different types of stores in Europe, but it is funny because there are some U.S shops as well.


After that, I went to the Farsi study group that meets every Friday at Projekt Gemeinde which was really cool! I met some of the refugees from Iran who are part of the community and got to see the groups in action. It was so interesting to see the translation between English, German, and Farsi happening constantly. I am excited to meet more of the refugee community this Sunday!

After that, I went to the Farsi study group that meets every Friday at Projekt Gemeinde which was really cool! I met some of the refugees from Iran who are part of the community and got to see the groups in action. It was so interesting to see the translation between English, German, and Farsi happening constantly. I am excited to meet more of the refugee community this Sunday!

After that, I went to the Farsi study group that meets every Friday at Projekt Gemeinde which was really cool! I met some of the refugees from Iran who are part of the community and got to see the groups in action. It was so interesting to see the translation between English, German, and Farsi happening constantly. I am excited to meet more of the refugee community this Sunday!


19866496_1424369367657130_1851396124_nAfterwards, I decided to grab some bread and this yogurt from Iceland which is apparently close to Greek yogurt from Spar (a middle-ground supermarket) for dinner and it was only ₡1.30! I walked around Stadtpark a bit and sat in a tree to eat. It was absolutely beautiful, I definitely want to go running there sometime.

Tonight I wandered the city a bit, it is so much nicer at night because it is less hot and crowded and it is fun to explore. I saw police lights and was concerned because police lights in the U.S usually mean something negative happened. However, when I got closer I heard electronic music blasting and an entire street full of people on roller skates and bicycles and a van that read “Friday Night Skating Vienna” on it. The police were escorting this techno-bumping, neon-clothes-wearing procession safely down the major streets by Karlsplatz and I couldn’t help but laugh at the whole situation.


Chacos vs. Cobblestones

I wish I had worn a pedometer to see how far I walked today (an app on my phone said 15 miles but it’s not the most accurate, especially since I left my phone in my room part of the day). My feet’s only savior from the hours of walking on cobblestones were my beloved chacos, which I fear will be worn down to nothingness after this trip!

One of the other interns showed me around the kitchen and took me to a couple of grocery stores near the Donauhof building. One of my jobs will be to cook lunch for the workers who are doing lots of construction on the house. It was fun to go to the local Turkish grocery store and weigh out vegetables and see what grocery shopping looks like outside the U.S.

It seems that in Vienna most people go shopping many times throughout the week. They buy produce and bread that goes bad after one or two days because there are not many preservatives in the food here. Because of this, shopping trips tend to be short and intentional.

After this, I took my registration of residence in Vienna to the city authority which was quite a ways from my dorm. I got to go with my roommate which was fun because she knows the city much better than I do. We walked through a central shopping district known as Neubau which had loads of shops.


All official after turning in my Meldezettel!

It seems that every street here is gorgeous. I can’t get enough of the beautiful buildings and cobblestone streets, it really feels like I’m in a fairytale. I love just wandering around  the twists and turns and stumbling upon little courtyards and fountains and churches. There are so many hidden treasures and I’m loving exploring.


I found this church while wandering, there isn’t a sign or anything so I have no idea what it’s called and it was locked but wow isn’t it beautiful??

Somehow I ended up in the Museumquartier and the Rathaus which is packed full of history, art, beautiful buildings, and parks. I want to go into as many as the museums as I can (constraints: time, $$). I want to start going to them now but I have this need to do tourism right. There are lots of insider secrets on how to avoid the tourist crowds, deals on multi-museum tickets, and little nearby cafes and shops that are near attractions but off the beaten path. I am going to sit down with a few of the other interns and locals and make a Sights and Smells adventure plan so I can make sure to maximize my expeditions!

I only have 10 weeks here and I want to make the most of my time. I want to do quality and meaningful work, get to know the city reasonably well, and also travel through Eastern Europe a bit!

Tonight we also had a barbecue where I met some of the other people who attend and work at Projekt Gemeinde. It was great to meet more people and I really enjoy the community here. Also the food was delicious (I probably ate my weight in bread and cheese but it’s fine)


Night/Day 1

My first 24 hours in Vienna have been a whirlwind!

I got in around 8:30pm last night, got settled in the Studentenheim I’m staying at, and met my roommate! Nicole is so friendly and kind, I am lucky to have been put with her! She is from Brazil but spent 3 years in Ireland and is living in Vienna for the summer before moving to Poland!

Today I met Steve who is an intern with Projekt Gemeinde and he took me around the city a bit. He was so helpful, he helped me get a SIM card at the grocery store and gave me advice on navigating Vienna. I also met the other interns at Projekt Gemeinde and got to see the Donauhof building that the church is cleaning out and doing lots of construction work on. We all went to lunch with a couple of pastors from the church near their Krummgasse location!

I haven’t had much problems with jetlag but I did take a 20 minute nap today. Afterwards I met up with a couple of the interns for dinner and they discussed starting a new English speaking house group for the church. When night fell I decided to walk around the city a bit on my way home. It is so nice at night because it is not as hot and the streets and historic sites are not as crowded. I love seeing all the old buildings lit up in the evening and just how safe it feels to walk around the city at night.



My first purchases in Vienna: a SIM card, a Kinder egg, and some hand soap for my room xD


31 Hours of Travel? Not as bad as it sounds

Everyone keeps telling me how miserable international travel is but honestly since I left Colorado Springs 24 hours ago I have thoroughly enjoyed my time. I am so excited to get to Vienna but also traveling in and of itself is wonderful. Being surrounded by people from all over the world each going on their own adventures is amazing, and even just sitting in the Frankfurt airport now hearing all the different languages spoken around me makes my heart leap.

Despite this, I am undeniably tired. My body is pretty frustrated at me for only getting 14 hours of sleep over the last 3 days. Also sleeping on planes is not the greatest, especially if you are 6’3″ and your long legs are jammed between seats. (An added bonus is when the lovely individual in front of you decides that a couple degrees of reclining are worth your last inches of comfort).

Thankful for 8C


I knew I would meet lots of fantastic people on this trip but I didn’t realize how quickly these connections would start to form. Karoline happened to be sitting next to me on the flight to Minneapolis and was also going to be on the connection to Frankfurt! She had been in the U.S and Canada for 10 months working and traveling and was on her way home. She was very friendly and gave me lots of great advice about traveling and Europe and hopefully I will see her again this summer!

Layovers = Opportunities

In Minneapolis I had a 5 hour layover and I wanted to make the most of this time. Thankfully I have incredible friends like Sam, who gave me a whole list of things I could do that were close to the airport. I took the light rail downtown and got ice cream at Izzy’s and walked through Gold Medal Park along the Mississippi River and then explored Minnehaha Park a bit before heading back to the airport. It was so fun to get out and see the city, Minneapolis is awesome and Minnesota in general is so beautiful, I definitely want to come back!

In Frankfurt I had another 5 hour layover but did not want to risk leaving the airport to explore just because I was worried about the added logistics of being an international traveler at a large airport. However the airport itself is a massive complex and has plenty to do. I wandered around many shops and had a lot of fun at the supermarket. I spent a lot of time just looking at the new German brands and the different types of food.

Spaß mit Deutsche

I absolutely love being in Frankfurt and hearing and seeing German everywhere. I really miss the language and have enjoyed practicing it again. I’m really rusty after not taking it for 2 years but I’m hoping it comes back quickly! My current favorite activity is seeing how long into a conversation I can pass for being German (right now it’s not super long but I am able to get a ways into the conversation before people start to suspect)