Monday, October 1, 2007

First Impressions

First of all, I want to say thank you to everyone who has left comments on my blog! I am always really excited to see that I have a new comment, so please, keep them coming! I'm also rather impressed that, although I've said very little of interest up until now, that you seem to be checking in! Thanks again!

I'd also like to draw your attention to a new feature at the right of this entry: for those of you who may not always remember to check blogs for new posts, you may use the link to the right to sign up and receive my Blog per email whenever I post something new! For those of you who are still stradling the fence between the regularity of mass emails and the convenience of these newfangled blogs, this may be the best option for you! (There's also an RSS feed you can subscribe to at the bottom of the page.)

And now, for the answers you've eagerly (and patiently, I might add) been waiting for: How is Austria? It's such a broad question that a mere description of the place wouldn't really do it justice. So I've been making little notations here and there of interesting cultural differences, minor events, and observations that have presented themselves to me in the last week or so:

  • The German language: It is fantastic to be back in Austria and using my German on an über-regular basis. My apologies to my German readers, but I've fallen in love with the Styrian dialect all over again. (Quick geographical note: Graz is located in the province of Styria, in southern Austria.) It's also a bit of an adjustment to transition into primarily German, and I find that it does not come naturally and I struggle a bit when I speak. It's suddenly more difficult to speak German in Austria than it was a mere 2 days before I left New York. I would equate my speaking German with being on a sports team: being here is like I'm playing an away game and have lost the home advantage. In New York, if I spoke German, I was quite confident of myself, as I was one among few; but now that I realize that every time I open my mouth I will be identified as a foreigner, I'm falling behind in the game. But it's a bizarre phenomenon--my German comes and goes in varying degrees of fluency, eloquence, and accent depending on who I am speaking to. It makes very little sense, but I find that I am a tongue-tied stuttering fool when speaking with friends with whom I am already comfortable; however, when I am very nervous when meeting someone new upon whom I need to make a good impression, suddenly I speak perfect, eloquent German with no definable accent. It's truly freakish.

  • Wet hair: Austrians are very big on dry hair. That is to say, if you venture outside the house (and in some cases, outside whatever room houses the hairdryer) with wet hair, you are prompty informed that you will catch a cold and strongly advised to go and blow dry your hair immediately. This I already knew from my last stint in Graz. Curly hair and blowdryers, however, do not often agree, and I typically let my hair air dry. A few days ago, I realized that due to my gainful employment within the Austrian school system, this would not come across as very addition to being a social faux pas. I have thus begun to blowdry my hair.

  • Church bells: Church bells are a daily reality here, and they sound several times a day. The best example is at noon, where the unsuspecting foreigner may not realize that the entire city will also sound an alarm with the bells. Every Saturday at noon, synchronized alarms all over the city wail out from fire stations and join with the church bells to signal that is is, in fact, unmistakably noon.

  • Zu den 3 Goldenen Kugeln: I was quite pleased to go to my favorite schnitzel restaurant Zu den 3 Goldenen Kugeln ("To the 3 Golden Balls") once more. Here you can order fast, inexpensive, but darn tasty schnitzel and sausage of all kinds. And what would a trip to Austria be without a schnitzel to welcome you? It's been 3 years since I've eaten there, and I'd forgetten how amazingly huge the portions are...but what could be better than a schnitzel the size of the laptop I'm writing this on??

  • Die Strassenbahn: I'm amazingly spoiled that the tram ("die Strassenbahn") deposits me right in front of my building. Every time I ride home, it feels like the nice Austrian tram driver is personally dropping me off right at my doorstep! (Stay tuned for a future post on the apartment...)

There is certainly much, much more I could say, but I'll save that for later. I'll update again in a few days with thrilling tales of my first official days as an English Teaching Assistant!

What was awaiting me upon my arrival in the new apartment: Welcome to your new home!


Daniel said...

Man, they left you Ritter Sport when you got there? I LOVE that brand of chocolate.

How do you like riding the tram? The first time I rode a tram in Europe was in Prague, and I absolutely loved it. Somehow a bit different feeling than a bus.

Glad you're doing well!

Lindsay said...

Hi Rebecca... Glad you're doing well. I saw Sammy today. Wow, does he have some exciting days ahead. He plans to be back in Austria by 2/08 so hope you can meet this spring.

Sarah said...

Hi Rebecca!
Glad you made it safely and the blog is great :-)


Teresa said...

Hello Angie! Good to see you here regularly. Hey Becca! I miss you both and Austria, and the bread, food, beer, etc. Mmmmm... I can hear your voice in your postings, Becca, and it's a treat. I subscribed so I don't have to remember to check. Don't know if I'm lazy or more forgetful than before but I like the idea. Angie, does your blog offer that option?

Yeah for paragraphs!!! It's exhausting trying to find a place to take a breath. whew.

So, have a wonderful time and tell us your tales of adventure.

Blessed be,

Sam said...

I see Ritter Sport marzipan.... Is the other Ritter Sport cappuccino? Mmm.

Jennifer Elizabeth said...

I love that I am checking your blog on Oct 2 and Sam's posting date says that he is commenting on Oct 3.

the octopus said...

hey teresa - and becca!

i might just steal that featuire, yep. sounds nice^^

and the fire sirens only wail saturdays at noon, church bells do every day... the fire sirens are basically a test if they work in case we're attacked - talk about paranoia. oh well. that's also the reason, they make different sound patterns.. one for alarm, one for alarm over.. or so. never been attacked here ;)

Kristin said...

I walked out of my apartment this morning with wet hair and thought of you. :) Also, I subscribed for your email update and smiled when I got the confirmation:

"A message will be delivered to you if the publisher has produced new content on that day. No new content, no email for you."


Libby said...

Hi Rebecca!
It's great to "hear" your voice in your blog! You make Austria sound so real I can almost taste the schnitzel. We're so glad you're doing well.

It would be fun to meet you unexpectedly in the middle of the road in Graz one day!


Bruce said...
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