Monday, December 13, 2010

"Ist das die Katie?!" aka Hanging Out With Students

I thought camels lived in the desert?
Despite my anti-social tendencies, I've been pushing myself to get out of the apartment to go wherever possible! Lately I've been hanging out quite often with some of my students, because we've already got a basis of knowing each other and it's good practice for both of us since generally our language levels are about equal! Last Thursday, I met with one student, Bianca, in St. Pölten, the capital of Lower Austria. St. Pölten was mostly pretty typical (a shopping area, some churches, a city hall, a Christmas market... old news), except I immediately ran into some camels, which was weird, since it was snowing. I went to a bar with Bianca and we met up with some of her classmates, which sounds strange in theory but in practice was actually quite fun! I'm not sure if most people know this, but students really like it when their teachers are a. normal and relaxed and b. also struggling to learn something (in my case, German). Mostly I speak German outside of the school, which is fine by me. They taught me lots of German songs and I even got to waltz with some of them - because, yes, Austrian bars that play mostly American music do randomly start playing totally Austrian music. Why not? Bianca during the night referred to me as a "Vip"... meaning a V.I.P, but she rhymed it with zip. Funny how some things don't translate well...

Anyway, my German is still all over the place but I think getting better. Recently, someone told me that my written German was worse than my spoken German, which was a big surprise to me! I used to be pretty good at writing (or so I thought), but haven't really found a good reason to write in the past almost two years, so apparently that has gone downhill while my ability to mindlessly chatter auf Deutsch has picked up! In meeting up with my students, I'm also learning how to send text messages in German, or even better in dialect! Yes! I really wish I could get a Austrian dictionary so I could see some of this strange Austrian language written down... 

I'm discovering that time has adapted in my mind. Wait 8 minutes for the U-Bahn? No problem. Commute 1.5 hours to work, but also add 30 minutes to wait for the train? Ain't no thang. I think my brain is so used to constantly intaking things that I've become used to wasting time. I don't really think I've been bored in Austria yet, because there's always something I could be doing. Pretty cool. I can remember the professor of my Cross-Cultural Management class at UP talking about how he had a song he loved in Switzerland, but when he come back to the States he discovered that it was actually... quite slow, and not that interesting. (Side note: 6 months ago I never thought I would remember anything from that class.... who knew!?) I'm glad we only have to work 13hours a week  (or, 3 last week...) or I would never have learned how to slow down. Except my walking - that's still faster than a speeding bullet.

Today I was given some freedom in a class, because the teacher was at a conference, so I taught them American slang. It was so fun! Listening to a room full of Austrian students saying "sup, bro?" "bummer" and "peace out" is one of the funniest things I've ever encountered. I've noticed that English is full of contradictions. For example: "That's hot" and "that's cool"... both mean a good thing. Or, "What's up?" and "What's going down?" both ask what is happening. I'm glad I don't have to learn American, it's probably way harder than Austrian since we have so many states and our slang changes every 2 months. We also corrected the grammar of some rap lyrics, and jammed out to Sir Mix-A-Lot's "My Posse's on Broadway", just to tie it all back to Seattle. I was digging it.

In other news, I fly home in 9 days! All this Christmas music is making me anxious... Also, by the way: Austrians celebrate Christmas on the 24th. So, Baby Jesus brings all the gifts on the 24th, and then goes to help Old Man Santa Claus deliver presents to the rest of the world, because he's so old, he needs help. Or at least, that's how the story goes...


  1. Cutest thing I've ever seen in my life were my retired sixty-something (age, not number!) Chinese students picking up American slang. And getting it almost but not quite right. They were so adorable.


    austrian dictionary.

  3. My Betreuunglehrerin also gave me this for xmas.

  4. Bah! Jealous, Fabian. And you've got a live-in dictionary with you, right at home!

    I think your life goal should be to set up an online English-Austrian dictionary. Slash, I wonder if I could get someone to pay me to do that...