Saturday, October 2, 2010

We're heeeere! (name that movie?)

Ah okay so life in Austria has begun in a total whirlwind. I arrived Monday morning, all excited to be back on Austrian soil, only to find that my two suitcases had not arrived.... apparently 10 hours in DC is not enough time to move them. It was massively disconcerting to feel like I had nothing in the world that was mine... but luckily Jenni met me at the airport (she had also lost a suitcase - really!?) and comforted me and helped me realize that the 55-lb backpack I had was full of enough things to last me a year, let alone the 2 days until I got my bags  We then scampered off to our apartment (more on this later) for a quick shower and then a  train ride to Graz (the second largest city in Austria) with Fabian (also from UP, but a year ahead of Jenni and me).

Schlossberg, with a peek of the Uhrturm on the top
Our little orientation was in Graz from Monday to Friday and it was definitely worthwhile. We stayed at a castle called Schloss St. Martin, which was about 25 minutes outside of the city of Graz, overlooking apple fields! There are about 50 Americans and 50 British teaching assistants (TAs), so the hardest part of the whole week was trying to meet everyone, while also making somewhat good friends with people. It was exhausting to be so on the ball all the time... I hate having to meet new people and make the same conversation and whatnot, but I was actually pleased with how well I could remember names, so that's good! I was again SO lucky to have Jenni, because when I needed to vent about how ridiculous some things/people are, I could just be myself and not have to worry about offending anyone. Thank goodness! I can only handle these half-interactions for so long. Anyway, socially the week went well - I met some nice people who I hope to hang out with, since about 50% of the assistants live or work in Vienna.

It was interesting to meet so many people from all across both the US and Great Britain. I have never had so much time to talk to people from the East Coast or the South or the Midwest, and it makes me think on feelings I've had in Portland about how I can probably get along with everyone in some way or another... I mean, that's still probably true, but there are some people who are just not like me, and don't want to have anywhere near the same priorities as me, and it was stressful trying to figure out how to work and "play" with these people all week when really I would be happy cuddling up on my own.

A little snail I found on the grounds of Schloss St. Martin
Job-wise the week went well too! At first, it was pretty stressful... our teacher (of a group of assistants) insisted on speaking German, along with many other administrators, and I had to face the facts about my German deficiencies... my vocabulary has just disappeared over the last year and made speaking hard, though I understand a lot. Blehh it will take some getting used to, but I just need to be better at sounding like an idiot to get better. BUT the really encouraging part of the whole trip was actually being with students! We had a guided tour (in English) from some 14 year olds (from the Gymnasium) who seriously seemed to enjoy me, which was great, because I thought they were fun too! We also presented a mock lesson in a classroom, which didn't go perfectly but I think having 1 TA opposed to the 4 we had will make it much better, since teenagers generally think I'm great. :) Anyway, school starts Monday. whee.

Graz! In the foreground you can see the modern art museum, AKA the Friendly Alien, according to my 14-year old friends

Finally I got to UNPACK MY SUITCASE, which has been packed since I became homeless in mid-August! Ohhh  it feels great. Our apartment is, there's really no other way to say it, die Scheisse. It's fully furnished with nice furniture and kitchen things, it's huge, we have a desktop computer, a printer, a TV player, a balcony.... everything we could ever need! Literally the only downside is I sleep on a futon, and it's a bit more than I'd like to spend... but convenience plays a big role so I shall accept it. We also have a separate room for toilet and bathroom, which I find quite funny and a little irksome...

Tomorrow Jenni and I are going to take a day trip to Krems, where I'll be teaching, followed by Lange Nacht  der Museen, where the museums of Vienna are open until 1 AM! Hopefully this doesn't horribly disrupt my sleep schedule... but yes. I might even get a telephone tomorrow! Oh, and my address, if you're interested, is:

Bischoffsgasse 1/8 #14
1120 Vienna, Austria, Europe

yes, that is 1/8... Bischoffsgasse 1, stairwell 8, #14. It is confusing, but lots of things are.

I started accidentally adopting a British, or often Irish, accent because of being around these other people. Why is is that their accents are so much easier to adopt!?

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