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  • Lao Tzu, the Father of Taoism, said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” My single step was off of a Boeing 747 onto Austrian soil. Exhaustion, anxiety, excitement, and apprehension all ran through me as I took that step out of the plane and into the Vienna International Airport. Vienna was the city I was going to call home for the next five months. My first goal was to get my bags from baggage claim and my next step was to find my buddy, a local student provided to help smooth my transition into life in Vienna. All the new international students were paired with their own buddy.
    After getting all three of my suitcases, I managed to maneuver them into the area where non-passengers meet their new arrivals. Worried that I would not find her, as the area was crowded and noisy, I started scanning for my buddy. Eventually I heard, “Ashley!” from a tall, blonde with a strong accent. Thank gosh she found me. There was no way I was going to be able to navigate this new city all by myself, especially with three suitcases.
    After introductions, Madeleine raddled off all of the things we needed to do, but all I heard were a list of things keeping me from a bed. I hadn’t slept in 36 hours. After a train ride and a metro ride, we arrived at my new apartment. I immediately dropped my suitcases and let out a loud sigh of relief. There was no way I could drag them around anymore. After signing some paperwork and a quick look around, it was back out to get my semester transportation pass and register with the city.
    Two long lines, tons of paperwork, a lot of German conversations I didn’t understand, and four crowded, noisy and overwhelming metro rides later, I was finally able to go back to my new home. All of these errands were a blur, and I felt like my body was going to give up any second. While I was so excited to finally go to bed, I realized that my apartment had no Wi-Fi, which meant that other than my spotty international cell service, I had no contact to the outside world. At this point I was just too frustrated and exhausted to function and called my parents in tears. They calmed me down and talked with me as I walked through the sharp, cold air outside to an ATM to pull out money in order to buy my Wi-Fi port from the house technician.
    Back in the apartment, I was standing in line in the technician’s office behind a girl with an accent that I did not recognize. She looked equally as tired and defeated. When she finally got her Wi-Fi port she skipped out of the office, as thrilled as I was to have access to her life back home. After receiving my own port, I ended up catching up to her on the staircase. We both stopped on the same floor, we both walked to the same door and went inside. This girl was my roommate. We exchanged a quick introduction. Even despite the exhaustion, her voice was loud and bubbly as she informed me that her name was Joanie and that the unrecognizable accent was French Canadian. Finally, with an awkward ending, neither of us wanting to seem too eager to walk away, we both headed to our own rooms.
    Back in my room, there were more tears and thoughts about going home flooded my mind. Eventually, I gave up on trying to figure out how to work the Wi-Fi port and gave into exhaustion. The second I plopped onto my bed, I fell into a deep sleep lasting almost 24 hours. I had no idea this was about to be the best semester of my life and that roommate was about to be one of the best friends I have ever had.
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