Also this year will be relaxing in other ways. Since I began teaching, I have tried to fit in with other teachers and be a part of the group. Teaching in South Korea was a bit secluded, and it was hard to meet other English-speakers so we hung out together after hours quite a bit. Here in Vienna, the situation is similar for many teachers. It's hard to break out of the English-speaking community, and so many people have formed tight friendships that extend beyond work.
Being surrounded by these types of close-knit relationships is a bit intimidating for an introvert like myself. I prefer to keep work at work, and to see the same people all day every day is difficult, no matter how amazing or hilarious they are. The beauty of growing older is the maturity that comes along with it, and I am finally seeing that it's okay to not be best friends with everyone I work with. I just happen to have worked in tight groups of foreigners so far.
To reiterate a bit of what was in my newsletter, I was extremely blessed in so many different ways by friends and family in Texas. Thank you to those who were able to host me (and Max sometimes). Thank you for open homes and hearts. And also thank you for all the special gifts that came in different ways -- a visit here, a meal there, clothes, cash, a rental car, etc. My love language is gifts, so thank you for them.
One of my favorite things I did this summer was visit an ice cave with Max. We went to visit his family in Salzburg for a week after I arrived back in Austria in July. The cave is called the Eisriesenhöhle. We had to climb up 700 steps, which was a breeze since I work out so often (NOT), but it was so cool, literally. It reminded me of Ice Age.
Max and I also went for a walk around this lake, Fuschl See. Max's dad says you can drink the water straight from the lake because it's so pure. (I didn't try it though.)