For the past two weeks I have been living, breathing, studying, and praying in a 14th century Carthusian monastery in Gaming, Austria, a small town nestled in the foothills of the alps. Gaming is a beautiful quaint little town with one main road which has two yellow blinking lights and a small community with a population density of 34/sq mile (to contrast, the tiny borough that I come from back in Pennsylvania has a population density of 5,800/sq mile). The post office is found inside the shoe store, we buy our groceries from the Spar but our toiletries from the beauty store and our school supplies from the paper goods store (which also acts as their toy store).
Two weeks experience in Gaming has taught me a few things:
One: the milka addiction is real (milka is the best chocolate ever and it’s found only in Austria), in case anyone was wondering my favorites currently are the dessert au, the chips ahoy, and the toffee/carmel.
Two: a good hike in the mountains solves all your problems. Ok maybe it doesn’t solve all your problems, but it definitely is oh so good for your soul. We’ve hiked up to the top of Book Mountain, signed the book, enjoyed the views (and maybe the whole enjoying the views part included climbing a tower that probably had a “danger, don’t enter” sign…but we can’t read German so we climbed it anyway and we all survived to tell the tale), and hiked back down bathed in golden hour sunlight. We’ve also hiked to a beautiful waterfall, jumped in the creek (ok, to be honest I have not actually jumped in the creek, but I’ve stood in it to get underwater shots of other people jumping, it’s tbd if I’ll actually jump or not), picked blackberries, and all in all thoroughly enjoyed the scenery around us.
Three: Double and triple check the bus schedules…also sometimes the online schedule does not match the schedule at the bus stops. The other night a group of us took a ten minute bus ride to the next town over which is situated on a beautiful lake surrounded by the mountains…however our lovely little evening on the lake took an interesting turn when we walked back to the bus stop and realized that the last bus for the evening had already left twenty minutes earlier (despite the schedule we had seen on their website). After a few minutes of indecision we decided that it couldn’t take us too long to walk back since it was such a short bus ride. Almost two hours later and 7 1/2 miles later we reached the familiar sight of the Kartuase just as dusk was setting in. The walk back was gorgeous, but up and down the winding road and not exactly an experience I wish to repeat in the near future.
Four: Studying and staying on top of the workload is absolutely possible, and I am absolutely in love with the four classes I am taking, all of which are pretty amazing and different. I have an adorable irish professor teaching me philosophy (philosophy is instantly made so much better when he explains things in his accent), I have a Franciscan friar teaching me about St. Francis and the Medieval times, my honors professor is half American, half Austrian and her grandmother went to school with Maria Von Trapp in Salzburg, and my last class, Christian Marriage, is taught by a graduate of the JPII Institute for Marriage & the Family.
Five: Starting and ending the day in prayer literally makes a world of difference. There are so many beautiful places to pray around here, I’ve hiked up to little quiet benches in the mountain behind us in the early morning hours, I’ve stayed in the Eucharist chapel late in to the night, and I’ve blasted praise and worship in my room with the widow wide open and while soaking in the view and wondering how on earth I’m privilaged enough to live here for the next four months.
In no particular order, here are some pictures from our time here in Gaming thus far:
After we signed the book at the top of Book Mountain. 🙂
Hiking down Book Mountain along the ridge of the mountin in the glowing sun…is this real life?
The view from Melk Abbey which we explored on our first Sunday here:
We spent a day wandering through Salzburg and seeing so many Sound of Music sights! I have many more photos from that day to share later:
At the lake in Lunz:
Our unplanned 7 mile walk back to Gaming:
So there you go, a little taste of what life looks like for me right now. 🙂