Today was a great day in Austria.
Woke up at my usual time, 4:45 (my mind still screams when I think of that, but my body is pretty much used to it), caught an early subway and made it to the train with plenty of time to spare. I know this is pretty basic, but it's really nice to not be stressed at 5:30 in the morning... anyway, my classes were good and interesting and normal, with kids asking interesting questions (Do you own a gun? This magazine says 50% of American women own guns.) and whatnot. BUT let's get to the good stuff.
My school has a restaurant/cafeteria. Sounds normal, right? Wrong! It's at the bottom of their HOTEL. So after class, I wander around the building until one of my kind students reminds me where the restaurant is, and I try to sign up for a lunch card but am told I cannot today. No problem, I'll just pay the normal amount (€3,30! Such a deal.) . As I get out my money, I find myself being ushered through the restaurant, past all my students and fellow faculty, into a nearly empty room. This room has a table full of important looking people drinking wine, a lone woman, and me, another lone woman at another table. Uhm, okay, I sit down in a seat pulled out for me and 2 of my students are instructed to take my coats. At this point I realize I'm getting some sort of royal treatment. When the instructor walks away, I ask one girl why I'm sitting here all alone, and she tells me it's because 'you're special! you're VIP!'.. hokay. So, lunch comes to me. Garlic soup first, and my every spoonful of soup is carefully observed by 3 students (wearing dirndls or suits and ties) and their instructor, who as soon as I'm done reminds them to remove my bowl. Very good. I am also offered salad, which, they are very sorry, I have to retrieve by walking through the main restaurant room, so I'm escorted by a student who serves me what I say I want (stewed tomatoes, 'the best lettuce in Austria' and 'oh you must have these... uh... I forget the word (pumpkin seeds)). I'm feeling pretty awkward at this point and crack many lame jokes with this poor 15 year old, Anja. Anyway, salad is consumed and out comes the main course! Turkey with couscous in sauce. It was... delicious. The best food I've eaten since Graz! Mind you, my eating habits are being carefully observed so I'm sitting straight up, elbows off the table, carefully cutting etc etc and feeling awwwkward. Very nice Anja had to remind me to put my napkin on my lap... oy vey. It's interesting though, because these students are doing this for their 'practical' part of their education, and are basically being graded on doing what they should be. Finally, my plate is whisked away and out comes dessert - Apfelstrüdel! It was truly delicious, better than anything Frau Strobl ever tried to give us. Anyway, after my dessert is consumed and I'm truly full, a girl helps me put on my coats and I awkwardly laugh and joke and make my way out of there in a hurry.
I was told this would not happen every time, thank god, because I was really looking forward to chatting with some students or faculty or whatever! But for such a cheap price and such a good meal I guess I can take some awkward, since I'm awkward all the time anyway... but it was interesting.
To add to my good day, I saw from the train a white deer and old men fishing in a pond. And on the U-bahn I made silly conversation with an older woman about her nice scarf and her ring and the plastic seats and whatnot and she complimented my German (yess ego boost) and it was nice. Jenni and I also discovered the Naschmarkt... which is going to turn into a bad addiction. The Naschmarkt is the open market with fruits, veggies, spices, meats... everything, for a decent price and lots of free samples! Can't wait to go there again.
I'm really happy about Austria today.