Traveling alone can sound scary, but once you are on your way it isn’t as scary as you thought.

First stop on my summer adventure: the airport. Managing to find where to go and how to go through customs and security is hard at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, or at least it was for me. However, everyone there was helpful and kind to a young girl traveling alone for the very first time.

After a total of almost 10 hours of flying, Austria finally came into view. That’s where I started my six-week summer vacation, where my grandparents and two of my uncles live with their families.

Austria is a country well-known for being the birthplace of Mozart and home to many old castles scattered around. My adventure began by seeing Graz. While the homes and buildings are old, the energy there is not. The buildings have such a beauty about them and the people are always smiling and laughing among friends and family.

Chocolate sweets

Then there is the food.

Most Austrians believe in a good, healthy diet with many vegetables and fruits to be eaten. While that may sound like the food wouldn’t be great, it actually is. It is amazing just how tasty they can make all of it by using various sauces and oils. It is as if there is a secret ingredient added to every meal.

Chocolate is everywhere and is much better than the chocolate in America. Luckily, the Austrians balance the healthy with a bit of chocolate every few days.

The only downside is that the people are not as interested in those outside their circle, though they are not rude by any account. You could travel on all the buses and trains and never once hear a “How are you?” Most people don’t ask unless they want a complete and long answer, which is usually what one gets when they ask, not just “good” or “OK,” which we get in America most of the time.

Next stop was Switzerland.

Cushioned in between the Alps, Switzerland is known for being neutral in both world wars. It wasn’t ever taken over during the wars as it is so hard to get to.

Language gap

Swiss German is a very different language from Austrian German and Germany German. This fact made it a bit harder to communicate. However, my time spent in Switzerland with my aunt and her family was packed with fun.

My favorite activity was a water park. The park was inside this multi-story building that had slides running down the levels. It was awesome.

The people of Switzerland were much the same as those in Austria, and Germany was the same as well. It seems you could live by a person for years and never really talk with them and know them.

After Switzerland, I left by train to travel to Germany. I spent a week with other teenagers at a church event as we all took time getting to know each other. It took awhile for everyone to open up enough to actually get to know them.

It was fun, though, as we laughed and joked around. We had a dance, which was interesting as most people there know how to ballroom dance, even if it is only a little.

Overall, I had a lot of fun traveling among Germans. I definitely recommend traveling to these countries with your friends and family.

Emma Wiser is a senior at Fremont High School. Email her at

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