I arrived in Austria on March 3rd to establish my base of operations in the small town of Judendorf along the bank of the Mur River in the Austrian state of Styria, just northwest of Graz where some of the Special Olympic events will take place. Judendorf, meaning Jewish city, is a quaint community with a nearby paper mill having a towering chimney billowing plumes of steam from the milling process, cozy homes situated in orderly and clean residential areas, and most prominent, the fourteenth century Gothic Pilgrimage Church Maria Straßengel
that sits atop a hill overlooking the town and commands to all passing by, "look at me"...a truly breathtaking sight.
Unlike the larger cities of Austria, very few of the residents of Judendorf speak English, making it a challenge for anyone who speaks not a word of German to manage. For someone like me, who speaks and understands a little German and desires to be more proficient, this is the ideal situation: total immesion into the German language. From the basement of a two-story home that was converted into a small apartment, and that will serve as my base of operations in the weeks to come, I have taken several leisurely walks into town since I began my stay and felt the sense of peace and tranquility wash over me - a much needed environment for someone with Aspergers, and in direct contrast to what is often experience in the hustle and bustle of Southern California.