It soon began to sink in that we were in our final week of our Austrian adventure. On Tuesday, we had morning classes and then reassembled in the afternoon to meet up with our buddies to discuss our first assignment. In the evening we watched '12 Angry Men' and then had a discussion on the communication issues associated with the socio-economic background, amongst other themes like standing up for what you think is right, despite pressure to do otherwise.

On Wednesday, we were supposed to go visit Eggenberg Palace but it was closed in the winter, so instead, our contact in Graz took us around the Graz Museum. We explored the history sections, using little guide books and were able to really engage with the interactive displays. It was really interesting to find out so much information as little groups and then meet back up to share our findings with the whole group. After a traditional lunch, we went back into the Graz Museum to view the art display. We worked our way around, discussing existential questions and then placing cards next to display items that we wanted to know more about and it was a really thought provoking experience. The most amazing display was a plaster mould of the city of Graz, submerged underwater and apparently, the artist intended the plaster to dissolve and react with the water to reveal more and more interesting concepts.

[caption id="attachment_5868" align="aligncenter" width="400"]A 360 degree view of Graz from the olden days A 360 degree view of Graz from the olden days[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5869" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Graz Museum Graz Museum[/caption]

After the Graz Museum, a small group of us decided to go ice-skating. It was a really fun experience and we got in for kid's prices because there was only an hour left before closing time. The next day, we went on an excursion to Piber and Barnbach. We had a tour of the stables that house the white horses used for Imperial performances in Vienna. Apparently, the white horses are born black but change colour as they get older but an odd few never change colour and it is supposed to be lucky to keep a black horse at the stables as a token horse.


After that tour, we went to Barnbach to see the church by a famous artist called Hundertwasser. The church was so colourful and welcoming. It was unlike any other church we have ever seen. Once the tour of the church came to a conclusion, we went to Buschenschank to experience a traditional meal at a mountain lodge. We loved the pet dogs that lounged around with the owners. The dogs seemed to be half husky and half German shepherd or Border collie. One of the men then decided to bring out the Accordion and played us tunes that he had learned as a child by ear from his father. One of the other men also decided to get us all to dance. We all agreed that it was one of the most authentic and memorable experiences of the entire trip.

[caption id="attachment_5873" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Austrian mountain lodge Austrian mountain lodge[/caption]

On Friday, we returned to a full day of classes and we all decided to go to see the Opera that night. We watched Luisa Miller at student prices as we bought tickets just half an hour before the show. It was only-8, as opposed to the standard price that was in excess of -50! The first scene was shocking, a woman ran onto the stage, fully nude. The rest of the time, the singing was in Italian, while the subtitles were in German, so we had a hard time following the story line. We Googled it after interlude though and found out it was very similar to Romeo and Juliet.

[caption id="attachment_5876" align="aligncenter" width="400"]The Opera Hall The Opera Hall[/caption]

We all had a pretty quiet Saturday but at night, however some of the group decided to go to this nightclub called Dom im Berg, which is actually situated inside of a cave at the base of the Schlossberg. Apparently, during World War II, it was used as an air raid shelter. It was a Red Bull sponsored party and unfortunately few people were dancing, so trust the Australians to show the Austrian locals how it's done! Eventually, we ended up dancing on stage. Quite a few of us slept in on Sunday morning, so we had to go find breakfast. 'Nordsee', a seafood place was open and it had some pretty amazing food. At night, a few of us went to eat dinner at an Italian Restaurant called 'Da Pina' with our Mentors and with our student cards, were given student prices. Once Monday came around, most of us had completed our assignments and gone through the bulk of the study material but the majority of the group decided to lock ourselves in our rooms and study for the exam tomorrow morning.

After the exam, we are all looking forward to the farewell lunch and then most of us will be packing and getting ready for departure on Wednesday 23rd December 2015. Thank you Austria! It has been an absolutely life-changing experience! You will be missed.