Monday, June 13, 2011

Saying Goodbye in Austria

This blog post could be very sentimental, sadly recognizing all the things I'll miss about Austria, (Knödel, Gemütlichkeit, teaching... to name a few) but I've decided instead to focus on the actual language involved in goodbyes. So, here goes:

Germans and Austrians have a curious tendency to LOVE greetings. Rarely do they use less than two. In stores or restaurants, perhaps just a simple "Tschüss" or "Wiedersehen" will suffice, but with friends or even acquaintances, one shows a level of affection by racking up numerous goodbyes. It's kind of like teenagers in love on the telephone ("You hang up!" "No, you hang up!").

Here are all the ways I can think of:
Tschüss! (bye)
Auf Wiedersehen! (until next time we see each other!)
Auf Wiederschauen! (until next time we see each other! in Austria)
Tschau!/Ciao! (ciao - obvious?)
Servus! (means both hello and goodbye, like aloha)
Baba! (derived from bye bye)
Pfierdi! (straight-up (Lower?) Austrian)
Auf Wiederhören! (used on the phone)
Bussi! (also mainly used on the phone... since it means kisses, it is kind of is weird in person)

English doesn't provide as many options. In fact, I can think of just a few: (Good) bye, talk to you later, see you later. Do these chronic goodbyers feel limited in my language? I think so! I once received a phone call from a woman I tutor, who left me a message in English. At the end of her message, she said a rather uncomfortable "Talk to you later. Bye! Bye-bye!", which made me laugh.

Well, that's it. I leave Austria tomorrow at 11:50 AM, and don't know when I'll be back. I do believe I'll be back someday though... at least for a vacation. It's been a long, fast, learning-experience-full, fun, stressful, growing year. I look forward to being somewhere where I can usually feel comfortable, while also looking forward to recognizing how I'm different from this year.

Tschüss! Baba! Wiedersehen! Servus! Pfierdi! Bussi! 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Weltner World Tour 2011


Yep, that's right, my brother came to Austria. It's been pretty sweet to show him around my life here. I mean, if no one else experiences it, it's almost like it's not real, right?

I'm in a castle!!
One of the silliest part of this trip has been what I like to call  "Weltners on Bikes". For those who don't know, I learned to ride a bike when I was 20. Matt has also never been a big bike rider, so putting the pair of us on bicycles makes for some strange times. On his second day here, I dragged Matt on a bike ride from Krems to Dürnstein, because he demanded that he see a castle while in Austria. Dürnstein housed Richard the Lionheart when Duke Leopold V of Austria captured him on his return from the Crusades in 1192. So, it's a pretty legit castle, even though all that remains is ruins.

Obviously to classify our trip as a "world tour", we had to go international. We decided Budapest, Hungary would be our second destination, so on Tuesday we took an early bus over there. Highlights of our Budapest visit:
  • The baths! Budapest is home to many natural springs, and we took advantage of one of baths, Szechenyi, for a full afternoon. We both had our first professional massages (and agreed they were weird), and also managed to dip our feet into all of the 18 different pools (including the very sulfur-y and very hot or cold).
  • Drinking from the "natural spring" of wine
  • Labyrinth - The hills in Buda are full of caves, which have been used for storage, transportation and safety. These days, however, they mostly function as tourist traps. We visited a labyrinth we had heard a lot about between 6 and 7 PM, when the lights were turned off and we were given lanterns. The whole thing was pretty kitschy, with spooky sounds and rattling chains and the whole shebang. The end however, was so weird. We stumbled across an "ancient" shoeprint from the Homo Consumus, followed by a huge Coke bottle fossil. Then, there were the exhibits of "recovered" artifacts, like a microphone, protractor, cell phone... etc. Finally, we turned a corner where the devil was giving a speech predicting the end of the world due to this Homo Consumus. The basic message I got was that at the rate that we consume, we too will perish. I mean, I get that people get upset about these things, but I just paid to get into your labyrinth... someone's making money off of this, don't hate me!
  • View from the Liberty Statue - After a couple long days of walking, we forced ourselves up another hill of Buda to see the sunset from the Liberty Statue. After getting lost in some neighborhoods, we were rewarded with a fantastic view of the city - totally worth it.
Budapest from the Liberty Statue
Anyway, we've also done a lot of things in Vienna, mostly my favorite things:
Café Central - tastebud overload!
  • Falafel and free samples at the Naschmarkt 
  • Coffee and Philgood Frühstück at Phil
  • Coffee and breakfast at Café Europa
  • Coffee and cake at Café Central (are you seeing a trend? Matt was really bad for the caffeine addiction I thought I'd overcome!)
  • A Tchaikovsky opera, Eugene Onegin, at the opera house (gettin' classy!)
  • Run in Schönbrunn
  • And lots and lots and lots of walking....

In other news, I leave for Seattle in 36 HOURS.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Lesson in Lessons.

Me: Which president was the first president born in a hospital? A. Abraham Lincoln, B. Jimmy Carter, C. Barack Obama or D. George Bush, Sr.
Student: Nick Carter.
Me: Whose ashes are located in a lake in California? A. Gandhi, B. Martin Luther King, Jr. C. Abraham Lincoln or D. Marilyn Monroe?
Same student: Marilyn Manson.

Oh, goodness.

Well, it looks like my teaching career is over (at least for the moment - I have no idea what I'll be doing in 3 years...). I really, really enjoyed myself and I think, most of the time, the students did too! But I thought it would be interesting to highlight some of the lessons I taught, for old time's sake. These are the ones that I enjoyed and/or I thought the students liked. I may be completely wrong about that.
  • Native Americans and whaling in the Makah tribe
  • American government system
  • Seattle (especially tourism in Seattle)
  • Globalization 
  • Idioms!
  • Fun facts about America (followed by fun facts about Austria, which I loooved)
  • Debates on nuclear energy
  • Nutrition aka Americans aren't all fat
  • Slang/Rap music in America
  • Jobs/Job interviews (someday knowing how to interview for a garbage man position could come in handy, right?)

And what about some that did not go so well?
  • Facebook (tried to create a wall-to-wall... it was weird)
  • Diner Talk! (Adam and Eve = spare ribs,etc)
  • Political parties in America (if it's not Obama, they don't care.)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Things I Didn't Expect to Learn

My time here is running out. 4 days, in fact. FOUR DAYS, really!? I can count that on one hand! Bah! Anyway, my brother has been here to help me from getting too sentimental, but I still think it's good to sit back and reflect a bit.

I've learned a lot this year. I've learned how to be a better teacher, I've learned more German, I've learned how to maximize hours and hours of freetime... but there are plenty of things I learned that I did not at all expect to learn. Some of them, frankly, I wish I hadn't learned.

  • die Umleitung - On my solo bike ride from Krems to Melk (36 km) I kept passing these signs that said Umleitung with an arrow. Of course I didn't really think about it and kept going straight on the path that I knew. After running into construction sights at least 3 times, being yelled at and confused by some Austrian workers, I finally realized that maybe there was some way I should have known to go around this sight. A-ha moment! Umleitung = detour. 
  • die Geldbörse - I am superstitious about my wallets. A few summers ago, I had an unlucky wallet that I kept forgetting places. And this year, when I switched to a new wallet, I kept forgetting it at the same place: at home. One morning I managed to get to the train station 30 minutes away before realizing I was wallet-less, and then the next day I didn't realize I had forgotten my wallet until after ringing up an entire bag of groceries. During these processes, I embarrassingly said the phrase "Ich habe meine Geldbörse vergessen!" (I forgot my wallet) about 4 times, which entails that I will probably never forget that word.
  • Waltzing (and marching!) - Back in January, a friend of mine invited me to attend the Technische Universität Ball. As a part of this, we got free dancing lessons, including the traditional Austrian waltz. Anyway, Joe and I whirled and waltzed with the best of them. I have to figure out how to make waltzing cool in America... it's so fun, and not hard!
  • Things about the US - I've taught a lot of lessons about America this year, and along the way learned some strange things. Examples:
    • The biggest Native American tribe is the Sioux, with 11,000 people
    • There are more 3x more cows than people in the US
    • Great Smokey National Park is the #9 most visited tourist site in the US (I'd never heard of it)
    • There has only been one unmarried US President (James Buchanan)
    • There are really alligators in Alabama (thanks Laura Smith!)
  • How to drive a manual/die Kupplung - My friend Bianca was once kind enough to let me try to drive her stickshift. I killed it a couple times, but I guess that happens. Anyway, after having her scream some German at me while I panicked, I don't think I'll ever forget what Kupplung (clutch) or Bremse (brake) mean. 
  • How to kill 3+ hours of time, daily - This is probably the most practical lesson I've learned all year. Like I've said before, I commute about 3 hours a day to and from Vienna. What do I do to not go crazy? Read, write, listen to Childish Gambino and sleep. Done.
  • der Vokuhila - There's a free newspaper available in Austria, called Heute (=today). With one reading of this paper, you'll recognize that it's obviously of the very highest quality. For example, one time I learned that a beloved Easter bunny had been stolen from a nearby town. Anyway, this paper provides me with some interesting vocabulary. On the cover one day was a picture of Brad Pitt and the word "Vokuhila!!". This, I learned was an abbrevation for "vorne kurz, hinten lang" (short in front, long in back). Yes, Vokuhila means mullet. Considering the extreme amount of mullets visible in Austria, I'm surprised it took me this long to learn that word.