Exchange to Austria from New Zealand, by Crissy Sanders

In December 2019, I departed New Zealand, taking three planes across the world and arriving in Vienna around 30 hours later. Here I met my awesome host sister, Viki Pinzer, and her lovely family. The first two weeks I was in Vienna, I attended Sacre Coeur with Viki. I enjoyed my time at the school, and I would like to thank everyone who made me feel welcome. Some differences between Sacre Coeur and my school Baradene College of the Sacred Heart, include that our school starts at 8:30am and ends at 3:10pm, every day. I liked how at Sacré-Coeur, some days we finished at 1:40pm! At my school, we take seven classes, and we get to choose all of them, from a wide range of options. At home, myself and most of my peers have extracurricular groups that we take part in before and after school; for example twice a week I have orchestra and band in the morning, before school starts, and after school I play soccer and touch rugby, whereas in Vienna this seems to be unusual.

In the weekends, Viki took me sightseeing around Vienna and we had a great time. I saw Schönbrunn Palace and Hofburg Palace, went on the Riesenrad, visited the Albertina, Kunsthistorisches Museum and Naturhistorisches Museum, went to a Vienna Imperial Philharmonica concert, saw Stephansdom and Karlskirche – to name a few! We also had a lot of fun hanging out with her friends.

I loved being in Vienna for Christmas time, because it is such a beautiful place full of Christmas spirit. The Christkindlmarkets were wonderful, and the Christmas lights that decorate the city. On Christmas day we went iceskating, which was one of my favourite things, and I went to Christmas mass at Stephansdom. Although it was a very different Christmas – in New Zealand it is usually around 30˚C at Christmas and my cousins and I swim in the local river; I still very much enjoyed Christmas in Vienna. For Christmas break, we travelled to Annaberg and went skiing for 5 days! Wow! It was amazing! So much snow, and the mountains in Austria are incredible! For New Years Eve, we sledded down the snow in the dark and it was awesome.

The month I spent in Austria was one of the best months of my life and I loved every minute of it. My greatest thanks goes out to my amazing friend Viki and your wonderful family.