Last weekend, all of the YFU exchange students from all the world that are staying in Austria traveled to Bad Gastein by train to meet up in order to have our beginning of the year orientation. We had an orientation in our home countries before coming to Austria and during our stay here we will have another two: The mid-term orientation and one at the end of the year. Of course, when we get to our home countries we will have another orientation because, according to the previous exchange students, going back is really hard, some even say that it is harder than adapting to the new country.
This is was my experience for the weekend:
My host-dad took me to the train station and left me on the correct platform and I got my train to Wien Meddling, there as I was waiting for my next train, I saw Regina (a friend from México that I actually met at the airport and sat next to on the way to Austria), she told me to get on that train were all the Mexicans were, but my ticket said another time so I didn´t want to risk getting onto the wrong train. So there I was, still waiting for the correct train, as a couple from the USA approached me and asked if this was the right platform and I said yes, and then we had a conversation about how stressful traveling by train is because it is so hard with the different language. I got on the train and saw that in the train there were quite a lot of teenagers, but I didn’t really put much thought into it. I sat down, saw that in the seat next to me were two girls, one was asleep and the other was just listening to music, then, she pulled out a bag that said YFU and I quickly went and asked her if she was an exchange student and was heading the same way as me. It turns out they are from Estonia and yes, they were going to the orientation. After a while i went back to my seat and was just staring at the window, eating my sandwich that Monika (host-grandma) had made me, when suddenly i heard a scream… it was my Mexican friends! (including Regina) We all thought that I was in a different train than them but it was so fun to realise we were in the same one all along. I already knew two of them from the orientation in México but the other four I met at the airport the very same day we travelled here. I had literally seen them once in my life and we were so excited to see each other again.
We got off and saw all the exchange students. They are from Estonia, Japan, Thailand, South Africa, Australia, Italy, Czech Republic, Hungary, Argentina, etc. The YFU organisers checked that we were all present and then we moved on to play a little game “the big fat pony” which is a little energiser were you have to clap and dance.
After that, we walked to the hostal and signed in, got our keys and settled in. My roommates were all girls and they were Estonia, Switzerland and Thailand.
I went down to meet everyone and talk to some people and get to know them a little bit and then more people joined in and it turned into a huge circle. We were told that we had a few hours free so me and my Mexican and Argentinian friends that I had just met went to BILLA to buy a few snacks and then had a little walk. We came across a bridge, river and some mountains and we took some pictures. When we got back, dinner was being served so we ate fish and then hung out some more until we were all tired and went to our rooms.
We woke up at 7:30 a.m, got dressed and went down to breakfast. By the way, every time an organiser wants to talk, she raises her hand and everyone that sees her has to raise their hand, so if you see other people raise their hand you have to do it too and keep quiet.
We went back to the “main room” and we made energisers, teams and got onto the workshops. All the workshops consist of going into different rooms and drawing about our experience so far, talking about differences between your home country and Austria, seeing the Austrian rules so that you don’t accidentally do something illegal, talk about some issues, etc.
Later on we went on a walk through the mountains and little town and took pictures and on the way back from the walk we all stopped at Spar to have some water and buy some more food.
In the afternoon we had some more workshops and they ended at about 9 p.m. so we all headed to the living room to hang out and someone started playing music and we (Mexicans) started dancing and after a few minutes we had started a party.
That’s one thing about Mexicans that I love, we are very social and fun. We all danced to Spanish music and then a guy from Estonia showed us a Greek dance. After all that dancing, we sat down and started playing a game called “bottle” mixed with truth or dare. Someone would spin the bottle and whoever it points to asks and the other one answers, of course, it was more popular to choose dare because truth is like being in the safe spot. Most of the dares were to kiss or something like that. Oh, but don’t worry I didn’t play.
Exchange students love this game called “flags”. In order to get flags you need to kiss someone from that country. Ex: If I kiss an English guy then he would have the Mexican and I would have the English flag. And when you kiss a supervisor from your organisation, you have the golden flag.
We had our last breakfast and I had the idea that I should raise my hand so that everyone thinks someone is about to speak (as I explained earlier) but we never got round to doing it, although the thought of it made us laugh. We packed all our stuff and hung out at the living room. After a while, we went to the train station walking and got on the train, there were no seats and I had never seen a train with a restaurant inside and little cabins. We were standing up or a little while because we couldn’t find seats and also one of the “automatic doors” got stuck and I was trying to open it and this Austrian lady was trying to tell me how to do it (she was yelling) and she was saying like “nooo! the other way” she looked a bit mad honestly which just made me laugh, but at the end me and five other friends got the door to open. We sat down and ate the sandwich that they have us back at the hostal and stared at the beautiful view of the mountains.
I actually got on the wrong train but at the end I just changed trains and it was fine. In the last train, I was wondering why there were so little people on it but I didn’t really think much of it, then a waiter approached me and asked if I wanted something to drink or eat and I just said no thanks. They asked for my ticket and I showed them my yearly ticket and it turns out I was in first class without even noticing.
When I got to my destination, my host-sister Sarah picked me up.
That’s the end of my weekend in Bad Gastein… I really had fun this weekend! I also learned a lot…