Sunday, September 26, 2010

The journey begins!

I'm trying to get into the habit of blogging... so I shall update about some not-that-important details of my trip :).

Pudding, looking angry about my departure
Sometime during this week I prided myself on my fantastic packing job, because usually I'm awake at 230AM packing for my 430AM flight or something equally ridiculous, and this time I had my bags 3/4 packed the day before I left! Unfortunately, that last 1/4 included everything heavy and awkward sized... so packing, as usual, became chaotic and stressful. Anyway, I managed to sneak two 51 pound bags through, while also carrying my backpack filled with absolutely too many books, among other things, and weighing about 55 pounds. Good thing I've been working out all summer.... oh, wait...

The moon and I had a nice little moment last night. He came out very full and bright when leaving the house (I hear that it looks bigger this time of year... but that could be a rumor) and when I was on the plane, it was reflected on the wing! How grand. Little things like that make me feel like nature is looking out for me in some way or another...

Anyway, I also happened to have a 10 hour layover in D.C. (where I am now) and decided to carry my 55lb bag with me to tour a bit of downtown DC so I could end my time in America in a very all-American way. Now, I'm trying not to whine, because it really wasn't that bad, but 55 pounds is a lot of pounds, and in the rain... well, it WAS an adventure. People were quite kind in helping me find the bus/metro/mall, and I'm starting to believe that rumor about East Coasters being snobbish is not true. The Mall itself really is quite interesting (duh, right? I mean, it's the ultimate American tourist activity, minus Disneyland). I had my picture taken from about 2 feet away by a stranger who smiled and said "HI!" and I watched about 100 people run by me (not like a stampede... more like their own individual runs), and I saw some nice buildings and was denied access to not one but two Smithsonian museums due to the large bag. Anyway, Bag and I found a nice little garden near the Hirshhorn Museum, and I enjoyed my sandwich (thanks Mom) and watched people ogle at the interesting flowers.

Quaint garden, with the Bag in the background
Anyway, I've got a few hours until my flight leaves, but I'm officially ready and excited! Jenni and I have secured an apartment, and I can't wait to see it because apparently it's quite nice. Who knew craigslist would pull through in the end... We have an orientation in Graz for a few days, where we'll get a chance to meet people and I'll be reminded of how I'm kind of  awkward when meeting people. I kind of feel like I have NO idea what I'm doing. I mean, I don't know where we're living, really. I don't really know what we're doing over the next 5 days.... I don't know my work schedule or anything related to it... these things I can (and should) figure out, but there's something weirdly exciting about flying off into the unknown. I guess I'll know a lot more in just a few hours!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Auf Wieder-weekend

Today, I realized I leave for Austria in 5 days! That can fit onto one hand. It's crazy to think about how long ago I applied for this program, and it's suddenly getting... close.

Anyway, just got to Seattle after spending my last few days in Portland. It was a weirdly perfect Portland weekend, proving in my mind at least that things tend to work out much better when there aren't any plans. Over the weekend I managed to coincidentally get to Voodoo, Cafe Vita, Powell's, Safeway (my love), New Seasons, Prost, SE.... all my favorite places, without trying! I'm so glad I went back down and got to say a fond farewell to the lovely city and kind people.

Life feels like it's going in the right direction. I have been so, so nervous about going to Austria, fearing loneliness and insanity, among other things, but I finally feel ready. My life in Portland is over for right now, and I want something that's mine! Vienna is it, I guess.

Also, I really want a kitten. Call me a crazy cat lady, but I think I'd rather hang out with Pudding than with strangers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Honestly, I'm down like the economy (which is recovering, right?)

Ahhh it gets closer.

12 days until I leave for good ol' Vienna, still don't have a place to live! I've been sending out emails like crazy on all sorts of apartment websites. Craigslist proved terrible - I got the same scam email multiple times, and more people sending me ridiculously long emails describing their heroic deeds and their desperation for an apartment, ending with a request for a money order. bleh. Anyway, I think I've sent out over 100 requests and gotten... MAYBE 10 responses, none of which have worked out. But, I think I figured out some problems.

1. Germans don't know how to list their apartments. I think, 2-room apartment = 2 bedrooms. Wrong. It means 2 ROOMS, sometimes. Sometimes 4 rooms is a 3 bedroom apartment, however sometimes 4 is 2 bedrooms, etc. It's definitely hard to narrow it down.
2. The word "Zimmer" means room. Or, roomS. The difference is in a tiny little article, and in abbreviated ads they don't often use the articles. So, the word "Schlafzimmer" doesn't really help me understand how many bedrooms there are!
3. People with multiple apartments want to know what district/bezirk I want to live in. Turns out, flexibility is not desired, but I don't have a preference.
4. My German is not perfect, and neither is their English, so people just tend to avoid responding, since it's kind of a task...

Anyway, Jenni's dad might have found us one, without much effort at all. Goodness!

Life these days is interesting. Lots of changes, and I've been homeless for a while so these changes are closing in on me and making me crazy. There's already been a lot of hard goodbyes to things and people that I love. My time in Portland is almost done before I head off to Seattle to hang out with the fam for a bit. It will be nice to sleep in a bed, sleep (at all), eat regular meals, take regular showers... the works!