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.


  1. Vokuhila made my day. I love this.

  2. I just read this, cause I obviously missed it when you left and it is hilarious!!! :D

    I'll never forget when you drove my car hahahaaaa
    Umleitung, die Heute, Vokuhila …… I can't stop laughing ;)

    I wonder what things I'll catch up when I'm on my exchange year. Miss youuuu!