– 3rd of september, monday –
I remember my first day in Austria perfectly. It was a Monday, the 3rd of September, and I landed at the airport of Zurich in the afternoon. A driver picked me (and all the luggage) up and took me to my new home, Dornbirn. I met my colleagues at the office, I got some time to unpack in my new room and then they took me out for a dinner. It was a very nice evening – they told me a lot about the organisation and I had a very good feeling. When I returned home, I tried to figure out the WiFi password and accidentally met the other volunteers. I talked with them until midnight and then I just felt very exhausted. It was such a long day, my first one in Austria.
– 4th of september, tuesday –
My first working day started at 8 in the morning and we had to move from one office to a new one. I tried to help as well as I could, but I felt super lost on this day. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know where to put the things we were moving and I didn’t understand the local dialect. We were moving until 8 in the evening and I felt overwhelmed and tired.
– 5th of september, wednesday –
We had a first meeting with our coordinating organisation in Vorarlberg. I went together with the three volunteers that I already knew, the ones I lived with, and in the meeting we met the other four volunteers who lived on a farm a bit further away. We got a lot of information about the program, the region and we had to do lots of paperwork. Afterwards we went out for a beer and we made plans for the weekend. I started to feel very excited, because with this group it could be the beginning of a great year. Isn’t our picture amazingly awkward?
– 9th of september, sunday –
The 9th of September, a very memorable day: my first experience with hiking. With part of the volunteer group, we decided to hike up Karren, the most well-known mountain of Dornbirn. The hike wasn’t too hard, so it was a good way to ease into it. Spending all this time walking up, and later down, was a good opportunity to get to know the other volunteers that were not living with me. Once we reached the top of the mountain, I was so happy – the view was great!
– 11th of september, tuesday –
I went to Bregenz with two of the other volunteers, where we went to swim in Lake Constance. First thing to cross off my bucket list for the year! The weather was warm, the sun was slowly setting and it was the perfect moment to go swimming. Afterwards, we went to eat at a nice coffeehouse in Bregenz; for some reason they were offering warm food in the evening and it was all vegetarian. There are two things I remember very clearly: 1) I felt very happy this evening and the atmosphere was great, 2) they served us a stupidly expensive beer of five euros without any warning. I think we complained/joked about it for at least two months.
– 14th of September, friday –
At night, I had a lot of fun on the children’s carousel with my roommates. A few days later this particular carousel had a ‘defect’ sign on there. Coincidence?
– 16th of september, sunday –
I was playing games with two of my roommates at the river. A shady guy was staring at us the whole time and when we left, we realised why: he was masturbating while looking at us. And I thought Dornbirn was a safe and peaceful place where nothing ever happens…
– 23th of september, sunday –
We had a great plan for the Sunday – let’s go to Liechtenstein. One of my friends had a car and all we had to do was take the train for a few stations and then we could drive by car together to Liechtenstein. At some point, my friends and I looked out of the window and realised that something was not quite right. This wasn’t Austria anymore, this was Germany. We managed to take the train in the completely wrong direction and ended up in Germany… In the end, we did make it to Liechtenstein that day and we had a lot of fun about our little mistake.
– 27th to 30th of september, thursday to sunday –
At my work, we were hosting a big international meeting: around eighty delegates of more than thirty countries came to Dornbirn to receive information about the World Gymnaestrada. The days were long, usually from 7:00 until 23:00 and there was a lot to do and organise, many questions to answer. I remember being forced to dance with a middle-aged Estonian man in front of a stage, many people watching. I remember making porridge at 7:00 in the morning with the World Champion in porridge making. I remember deciding to party on Saturday night with my friends until past 3:00, after one of these long days with a long day to come. What a crazy weekend!