Happy Independence Day to all my people at home! For us AIMS'ers, it's Happy Check-In Day. Someone asked me today what I did today if I didn't really have anything scheduled. That seems impossible; today was SO full. I was trying to talk, but all my sentences were garbled and out of order, so I'm going to try to write things down about today. This morning, my aunt and I went to breakfast and wandered the city a little bit before heading over to the Studentenheim. I was definitely one of the first there, much to my delight. I picked up all my stuff at registration: room key, tons of Graz information, a German textbook, a laundry card, etc. Among these items was a Strassenbahn pass. The Strassenbahn is the German streetcar; some of our classes are located a short distance away, so we paid for a Strassenbahn pass so we could get to and from class easier.

As I was unpacking my room, one of my two suite-mates walked in. Emily is her name, and she's not only precious, but a fellow Lord of the Rings fan. What is up, girl. After we met Emily, my aunt left, and I am so grateful for all her help. Those of you who know me best (or know me at all) should not be surprised by the fact that once I was even remotely settled, my very, very first order of business was to find the practice rooms. In case you were wondering, they're in the basement.

My room in the Heim!

We have AIMS-o-vision.

Yes, the bed is comfy. It's marvelous.

Upon my return, Emily and I went out to find lunch. I bought raspberries at a produce stand during our search (and I ate all of them once back at the Heim). After some wandering and meandering, Emily and I sat in a small café not far from the Heim. We ordered our drinks in a passable manner ("Leitungswasser, bitte" -- tap water, please), but when our waitress prompted us to order the food, we couldn't figure out how to tell her that we needed one more second to decide. I asked our waitress if she spoke English. Guys. She did not. Imagine trying to tell someone who doesn't speak your language that you need one more moment to look at a menu. A young guy sitting at a table nearby offered to translate for us, but he didn't quite get what we were saying. Seeing our distress, a woman at another table tried to translate, too. Rather than allow this to turn into a café-wide fiasco, we just ordered (I already knew what I wanted anyway). This has been my first lesson in Learn German Now.

We came back to our room and unloaded our stuff. Our other suite-mate came in from her flight this afternoon: Kate. We got Internet on our computers and met new people. At 4 PM we went on a city tour. Y'all, I love Graz. I love it. It's an old city brimming with life and vitality and culture. A sixth of the population of the city is students, and Graz does have a "young" feel. The buildings of der Altstadt are comprised of many different kinds of architecture, as the Stadt (city) has been built and rebuilt and built over and built around over hundreds of years. The inner courtyards between buildings are crawling with life. Here, if you want to find something lovely and unique, you need to stray from the beaten path a little bit. Also, my father will appreciate how much the Austrians and Germans love ice cream, or Eis, as they call it. All the Grazers eat Eis as they walk about.

The Schloßberg: the old fortress of Graz.

Schloßberg

Formerly a convent, currently a seminary

The tour lasted about two hours, and after that Emily and I wandered off to find dinner. It was only when I returned to our room in the Heim and collapsed into my desk chair that I realized how tired I was. How tired I am. Our schedule is extensive, and I cannot believe how much there is to do. I feel like I can't really think about tomorrow (Hello, Scarlett O'Hara) because there's so much to get done. My hearing is on Sunday, and I'm singing in a masterclass on Monday. Talk about hitting the ground running. Trusting God.

Still to come: hearings and The Continued Adventures of Sara's Struggles in German. Also the Opening Ceremonies and the Reception, both of which will include pretty dresses. Now I only need to find the treadmill.

Bonus at the end of our tour. #represent

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