The last couple days have been a whirlwind of activity! Let me summarize, hopefully in order.
On Wednesday, I was invited to a formal dinner with one class of my students (3C, for the record... so they're 16/17). It was... awesome! I showed up and found half of the girls in dirndl while the other half wore rather short shiny things, which I guess is typical for 16 year olds. Anyway, the food was outstanding, including pumpkin soup, (my favorite!! thanks Mom for that one), some sort of lamb with pesto risotto, a meat dumpling, a plum dumpling for dessert and endless wine and bread and other things - 6 courses in total. It was served by another class (3D), which was fun, since they knew me and had to speak English with me. By the way, Herr Gutmayer was also there, of course, because that man hooks me up with food wherever I go. I was pleased, to say the least. At dinner, I sat next to their class teacher (like a homeroom teacher, he is their teacher for all 5 years of their time at the tourism school) and we had to speak German for about 3 hours so I was really on a roll. I've told the students that I can't really speak German so they don't try to speak with me, but some of them complimented my German throughout the night so I guess the cat's out of the bag on that one. Anyway, I was honored that the students invited me and I hope to go to have dinner there again! Normally it costs 20euro for a fancy dinner like that, and you have to make reservations in advance. I unfortunately didn't take any pictures, since I left my camera in Vienna, but I'll try to steal some from the students.
I got an awesome email last week. Let me copy it....: "So is also the problem that i have any others free evenings, You know! When can we meet us, I needed some help from you! ;)" Ah, Austrians. This kid wants help tutoring, which is super. The only reason I mention it is because, after making fun of him for a second, I then responded to an email saying "We can meet us on Wednesday". AH, bad job Katie, why am I teaching English!?
|Melk, with the Abbey in the foreground|
On Friday, Luke (our Burgenlandfreund), Jenni and I took off to Melk to meet up with another TA there, Charles. Charles teaches IN the Abbey of Melk, which is insane. We wandered around the Abbey and the gardens for a bit, then headed off to Amstetten, where Charles actually lives (about 30 minutes away). There are 2 things you should know about Amstetten. #1: The top Austrian men's volleyball team comes from Amstetten (and they all live with Charles. THEY ARE TALL.) #2: Josef Fritzl is from Amstetten. Google him - it will tell you a lot about the people in Amstetten. Anyway, we actually did enjoy ourselves. We went to a volleyball game (which they won, duh) and cheered like silly Americans, then wanderered about the town. Twas nice.
|Proof that we snuck into the Melk Gardens (not worth our 2euro)|
But the nicest part was the next day!! The 3 original travellers hopped on another train to a familiar city, Salzburg! Jenni and I got the AOK from the new director, Rene, to stay in the Center for a couple nights, so that we did. Lots of things are still exactly the same, though little things are different. Hopping off the train in Salzburg, we got our first sighting of Untersberg, but the train station was different and we felt foolish! No matter. That night, we showered at the Center and then went off for dinner with another TA in Salzburg, Karen. Karen is kind enough to let Luke crash with her even though he is a complete stranger (they split the TAs up into two groups in Austria). That night, we went off to Augustiners for a beer then headed back home to the Center, since we were pooped.
Being back here is crazy. On Sunday, Jenni and I wandered around the Center in our pajamas like it was 3 years ago, and no one seemed to mind. The students here are still pretty fresh into the program, so we aren't invading their space so much as providing a chance to give advice. It's been fun talking to people about what they should do in the area, what we're doing in Austria and how they should practice German, etc. Not that we're full of all sorts of advice, but we've been there! On Sunday, we hiked Kapuzinerberg, my favorite spot in Salzburg, and got a nice view of the city and whatnot. We also went to S'Guate for dinner, yummm. Everything tastes delicious and just as good as before, though we have yet to get the Knusperchnitzel and will be going back there tonight for dinner.
|A very Austrian meal, minus my Kurbiscremesuppe|
Last night we were also invited to the Sunday Dinner followed by Sunday Meeting. This progam in Salzburg is seriously a formula, of sorts. I mean, the students do the exact same thing and it produces such similar results! With 40 students in a one-year program, you obviously find that not everyone is your best friend, but already you can see that the students are finding their "people". We found the old guestbook that students from our year signed and were reminded of how, when we left here, everyone was seriously like a sibling. I mean, I think that if anyone from my Salzburg year program called me and said, hey, Katie, I need you, I would go help them because I know too much about them to not feel a connection with them in some way.
|Salzburg... where is the Festung?|
|Snowy rose in Mirabellgarten|
Salzburg is seriously a wonderful city. It makes me jealous of Karen that she gets to be here, because this city is so great! It's smaller than Vienna, and thus much more manageable. I have yet to find "my" coffee shop or "my" restaurant in Vienna, and though it's nice to feel so comfortable in my own apartment, I would like to know more about the city. Not that Vienna isn't wonderful, but I still feel like there's a lot I need to discover, and it's a bit overwhelming with so many options. Plus, finding special places is expensive! You can't sort through all the bad and the good without trying everything. Anyway, I would love to be in Salzburg again, because I know I'm not the same person I was 3 years ago and I would love to find things that suit my life now. Plus, it's fun to be in a city where I have an excellent sense of direction, because we can wander about and still know where we are! All weekend, Jenni and I have been trusting this strange feeling, like "I'm not sure of the in-between steps, but I am sure that this is the right direction....". Ah, memory, I don't understand you but I do appreciate you.
|View from Kapuzinerberg|
I think one thing I'm really noticing I've learned is how to ask for help, and to say what I want. Maybe it's a bit of an arrogant attitude, but people here in Austria like me because I am American, and want to help me! All I have to do is find the courage to ask, which is getting easier to do with time. Jenni also pinpointed something I've been thinking about a lot lately, namely what I should do with my "life". Still not sure, of course, but I do like being able to have a position of small authority with students. Working in the UP Studies Abroad office was always fun, because I got to talk about something I like (Salzburg/studying abroad) while also being a pretty much professional representative. I think I'm a pretty relatable person, but also like being organized... so anyway, don't know what that means for a "job", but I would like to work with people. Anyway, we're back in Vienna tomorrow, a national holiday so we have no school. Only 2 days of school until another 5 day weekend! Man, this job is so hard...