There have been some pretty great little conversations I've had recently that I'd like to share and remember...
As as student and I wandered around (I was killing time between classes, he was going home and maybe didn't appreciate my company but whatever)...
Me: So, what did you do at school today?
Student: Oh, I worked in the kitchen!
Me: Oh, nice! What did you cook?
Student: We cooked.. flat pork with uhm... a... bread... thing around it
Me: Oh... what is that called?
Another student Sebastian and I are train buddies, he never ever speaks in class but talks to me all the time on the train! Whether or not I am fostering a crush from a 17 year old is to be decided, but I like it because he lets me say and ask anything. I think it’s all for the sake of learning. Leading up to this conversation, we were discussing a house that I see from the train that has real deer in the yard! I was wondering why anyone would have deer, and it turns out, Sebastian knows the owner! Crazy. Anyway,
Me: Oh, man, Austria is a small country...
Sebastian: Perhaps yes, but it is such a LOVELY country!
Props to Sebastian, tourism school has done him well.
My first day of school, Gerlinde introduced me to her best friend Susi. I was informed that Susi is really nice, but she can't be my best friend because she is already Gerlinde's. Okay! These ladies are great. They teach me all sorts of strange Austrian things and laugh alll the time about who knows what. Susi yesterday told me that she had had back pain, but then they put some ointment (like icey hot, maybe?) on it and now she was feeling LUSTig... aka funny? I am always bewildered by their insanity. Things I've learned from Gerlinde and Susi...:
der Sauhof – a pig sty! Aka Susi's desk, and my purse.
ein Gesichtbad nehmen – to make an apperance. Aka what they do at all school events.
I geh Huam - I go home (or, gehma Huam - we go home)... this one gets me laughs everywhere, and is actually useful.
I’ve recently been babysitting a bunch. It’s sometimes stressful, more than in America, because these 2 little girls certainly speak German and I certainly speak like a „baby“ (according to Alwine) in German, but whatever. Kids are kids, and all kids like it when you humilate yourself and act like a pony, or make them feel like an airplane. It’s pretty cool to be involved just a bit in a real Austrian family. The other day I caught the mother threatening her child with the story of „Struwwelpeter“, which made me so happy. Today Alwine and I had a pretty great conversation, too. They have a CD of English songs like Old McDonald and some random Christmas songs and stuff, and one of them goes like this „hands, hands, clapclapclap, feet, feet stampstampstamp...“ and so on... anyway:
Me: hands, hands clapclapclap
Alwine: Nein! Katie! Es ist „clampclampclamp!“
.....which is decidedly wrong. But of course, I don’t speak English, no no. Alwine also corrected my adjective endings auf Deutsch today... She’s 3. Bah! I wish I could learn German naturally!
Anyway, let’s talk Thanksgiving. I celebrated Thanksgiving in a couple of ways, probably more than in America! Firstly, Jenni and I went back to Salzburg and met up with three other former UP-ers: Denise, Liz and Isaac. It was nice to walk around and talk to people who I know and are in similar situations. We had Thanksgiving dinner at the UP Center (yumm) and brown-nosed with some old professors, which is one of my favorite activities, and stayed overnight with Gundi, our old music professor. I got to borrow some books from the Gund also, hooray!!
I had been talking about Thanksgiving in basically every class over the last week, because teachers think it’s important for their students to understand American holidays … which I can dig. I made up some little skits of scenes from my family’s past (embellished a bit) like, having to run to the store to get apple cider, or eating too much and digesting after dinner, or beating another family at Apples to Apples (face the facts, Caldarts. Weltners dominate.). The students got pretty into the whole idea and really acted, which was cool! We also made the turkey hands of yesteryear. You know, those things where you trace your hand and make a turkey? Right, well, I made the students all right something they are thankful for on all four fingers and it turned out pretty nice! I think Thanksgiving is a pleasant holiday. It kind of reminds me of my Great February Experiment because everyone needs to take a moment to stop and appreciate what great things they have in their life, whether it be friends, family, cats or a job that lets you work 10 hours a week. My coordinating teacher mentioned how it’s almost like a religion… OR the GFE!!? Anyway, stay tuned for what happens in February 2011.
Talking about Thanksgiving so much made me a bit sad, because I knew I’d have to wait another year to witness the ridiculous antics of my family… so I made some pumpkin muffins and brought them to school, which was cool because then the entire staffroom knew it was Thanksgiving and kept hugging me and saying “Happy ‘Tanksgiving’ Katie!” (or Katja, or Kahtie…) which was cute, and maybe made me tear up. For dinner on Thursday, Jenni and I had some friends over for Schnitzel with cranberry sauce, and potatoes and vegetables… which is all kind of Thanksgiving-y, right? Right. We had in total 6 Americans, 2 Austrians and 1 Brit, and the foreigners were pretty overwhelmed by our American pride and occasional southern accents, I think. Not to mention we Americans also consumed the usual 2 helpings plus dessert, and still had room for wine! Anyway, it was fun to get together with people I like and have fun with, and to dance for four hours to America's top 40.
So, anyway, Austria is progressing for me. Sometimes it’s hard to be here, hard to be surrounded by people who I don’t understand, but I’m kind of learning to tune out German unless I really want to listen, and it feels less overwhelming. Some days are harder than others, which is probably normal. Days where I teach are the best, even if they are long (on Wednesday I left at 5:30AM looking at Orion's Belt, and came home at 7:30PM looking at the Big Dipper...). It's really helpful for me to have something I have to do, some meaning to be here! It's pretty cool to hear that the students decided to have me come to class rather than have a free period to study for their test. Am I that interesting? In other news, It snowed today in Vienna, which is a bit frightening because it’s November and I don’t really like the cold, but snowflakes really do look pretty when they fall so I will try to appreciate it. At least we have Gluehwein to keep us warm…