In which I supposedly bought $500 of candy

On the airplane I was given a customs declaration form to fill out and present to officials when I landed in San Francisco. When I got to the bottom and it asked me the total value of the items I was bringing back, I blanked. I hadn’t bothered to itemize the things I’d bought to bring back to America, and I wasn’t sure how much they cost altogether. I decided to put “$500” as an arbitrary but safe, all-encompassing number.

When I got to the customs official, he looked at my form.

“Austria, huh?” he said, glancing at what I’d filled out.

“Yeah.”
“What were you doing there?”
“Studying abroad.”
“Cool. What did you study, European history?”
“German and music. I’m a pianist.”
“Cool. $500 worth of stuff, huh?”
“Yeah.”
“What did you bring back?”
At this point I completely could not remember what I possibly could have spent a hypothetical $500 on. The first thing I could think of was the pile of Mozartkugeln in my suitcase.
“Candy.”
Silence.
“Candy?”
“Yeah…and souvenirs and stuff.”
“Okay…here you go,” he said, handing my customs form back to me.
I took my form and headed to baggage claims, thinking that to the customs official, I was going to be known as That Girl Who Went to Austria and Came Back With $500 Worth of Candy.
Thinking back, the majority of that $500 is actually probably sheet music.

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Back in America

Well, I’m back in the US—my time in Austria now feels unreal, as if I merely had a very long, vivid dream. I still plan on doing a few blog posts with photos I haven’t uploaded yet, but who knows? I can already tell I’m going to start slacking on blogging again.

In the meantime, I can use jet lag as an excuse for my laziness; yesterday I was awake for at least twenty-four hours straight; I only slept a few minutes on the plane as all twelve or so hours of it were full of bright sunshine. (The plane was going the same direction as the sun, so it was like it was permanently 5:00 PM.)

I had a stroke of luck getting my luggage through; Lufthansa had a 23-kilo limit and mine was definitely overweight. I tried to lessen the damage by putting all of my books and sheet music in my carry-on, which made that well overweight. Remember how I was hoping that they’d be lenient on me?

Well, when I got to the counter and the lady asked me to put my suitcase on the scale, I watched with terrified anticipation as the counter went up…all the way to 28 kilo. I was more than eleven pounds overweight.

“When I weighed it at home it was twenty-four kilo,” I said innocently, stretching the truth a little.

“Yeah, you can’t trust those home scales,” the lady said sympathetically. “That’s why I never weigh myself, I’d get depressed thinking I was fat, fat, fat!”

I laughed, hoping this was a sign of niceness.

She actually had me put my suitcase on the scale again, with it hanging off a little; it was still 28 kilo. I finally asked how much it would cost to pay for the extra weight, so she started typing on the computer.

Several minutes passed, and she finally said she couldn’t find it. “I know that with Piece Concept it’s a €150 fee,” she told me. €150? I’m doomed, I thought. But then…

“Well, never trust those home scales! Now you know,” the lady said cheerfully, sticking the tag on my suitcase and letting it go through.

Thank goodness for miracles!

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Goodbye, Salzburg

Goodbyes are so very difficult. After six wonderful weeks here in Austria I must once again brave the Munich airport (I am hoping against hope that they’ll be lenient on my overweight luggage and carry-on!) to go back to the US.
I’ve had to say goodbye to the wonderful friends I’ve made here, to all the people who helped make my experience so wonderful. In a short while I have to say goodbye to Salzburg—its wide open sky, its fortress and church domes, the beautiful Salzach, its markets and bus stops. I will have to say goodbye to my host mother, who has been so good to me.
I will miss everything; the greenery, the mountains, the tiny dumpsters, the city. I will miss the lovely walk to my piano lesson. I will miss the endless stairs in my school built into the mountain. I will, of course, miss all the food.
So it’s with a slightly aching heart I have to tell myself it’s time to say “Auf wiedersehen” to Salzburg. But then I realize that “Auf wiedersehen” means “Until we see again,” and I will see Salzburg again at some point in my life.
Therefore this isn’t a permanent goodbye; Salzburg and I are merely parting ways for the present.
Auf wiedersehen!
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