Hello!!! It has been a journey and back and SO MUCH FUN! I’ve gone from Bad Aussee to Innsbruck to Freiburg to Neuchatel to Graz and back to BA. Everything was awesome!…and in my last post I wrote from Graz, early Sunday morning.
After updating my blog, I went for a walk around Graz. I crossed the bridge into the Altstadt and got some cell phone credits. Really, it was nothing too exciting but I got a feel for the city. I went back to my hostel, got my room, and tried to contact Jordan, one of the guys from the program that was in the hostel, too. At first, it didn’t work too well, so I just took a nap and a shower, woke up and felt a lot better! I again tried to call Jordan, but still didn’t work, so I went to get a pizza. I brought it back to the hostel and as I was sitting outside eating it, Jordan showed up with Alysha! We met, started talking, and then some Brits came outside (Frankie and Corrie) and then we went on our way. We found a really nice Irish pub, Flann O’Brien’s, and sat outside talking and drinking some beer for a couple of hours. Very nice! Then we went back to the hostel and got some sleep because orientation started the next day!
So we woke up Monday and ate breakfast, very exciting. We went around the city for a bit, found another Brit at her hotel, and then went back to the hostel to pack up for the orientation. We took a taxi across town (there were 7 of us with all of our luggage) and checked in at the nunnery (convent), where we’d be staying for the week. Some people were staying up at the Schloss (castle) so they took a bus up there. Immediately, we started meeting millions of people. It was slightly overwhelming, but we were all just small-talking. At 5:30, we took a bus up to the Schloss for dinner and “opening ceremonies” or whatever. Nothing too exciting, but we met everyone! It was a little hectic.
We took the bus back down to the convent and then Frankie and I met some other Brits (Nichol, Dan and Rich) and we all went out for drinks at a pub down the road from the nunnery. All of the Brits are so nice and hilarious! I learned that mostly all of the Brits are in Austria on their required year abroad (if you study a language), but some of them are graduated. We just chatted over some beer and when the bar closed at midnight, we started to make our way home. However, we just so happened to run into an old man, Heinrich, on the street and he pulled us into his bar. He started pouring us wine and trying to dance with all of the ladies. There was an old man, Wolfgang, sitting at the bar and he tried to tell us he was 28 years old. After a while, it started to seem even more shady than it really was and we got outta there. It was fun, but a little creepy haha. We all parted ways and went to bed.
The next day, I woke up nice and early for breakfast. At 8:30 am, the bus took us all up to the Schloss for a day of seminars. Let me tell you, that 20 minute bus ride up to the Schloss everyday, really early, after drinking, was HORRIBLE. Anyway, we didn’t learn anything too exciting day 1…….but the lunches and dinners were delicious! My group, group 2, was really awesome and all of us got along pretty well. Our teacher, Elisabeth, was really fun and helpful!
Anyway, Tuesday in the evening we went on a little tour around Graz with Austrian students. The city is actually very, very beautiful! We ended at Jakominiplatz, which is a major bus and tram stop. We had received 10 Euro for dinner in the city for the night, so we (a big group from group 2…too many to remember who exactly) decided we of course needed to get Döner (a delicious Turkish version of a burrito) and beer. We sat at this bus stop, like true locals, for a good couple of hours drinking beer and just talking. We made our way, once again, to the Irish pub to watch some “football”, because some Brits/Scots from our program walked by and we tagged along. The pub was packed! Colin (a second year teaching assistant) and I decided that we both needed to use the bathroom and get another beer (but not an expensive one from the pub), so we walked all the way back to Jakominiplatz to use their 20 Euro cent bathroom (super cheap!) and get a beer from the Döner place. We then walked back to the bar, Colin left and I hung around with people for a while. Eventually, Colleen, Luke and Mike left, and I left with them. Apparently, I was loud and talking a lot, haha. But it was fun.
The next day was little rough/long but we all made it through haha. The day was kind of nice because we learned a lot of fun games to play with students and the Brits taught us all about British slang, which had us laughing and sounding British for the rest of the week (examples include, “Safe, bruv!” and “Brrrrrap!”). We divided up into groups and planned lessons for the next morning, when we would be going into Graz schools and doing our first lesson!!
So, we took the bus back down in the evening and had a little Q&A with some second year assistants, Lizbeth and Colin. I sat in the back with the Brits and some beer and got a little rowdy, as good Brits in the back row do hahaha. I went to the Hauptbonhof with Nichol to get her something to drink and schlep some beer for Rich and then we all drank in the basement of the nunnery (which is actually a chapel), which created a lot of Fritzl jokes (a major joke of the entire week, too) and it was weird to be drinking in a chapel. But it was fun.
Thursday we all woke up super early to go into our schools. Rich, Luke, Justin and myself went to the Akademisches Gymnasium (a school with kids from 10-19 years old) and we observed a class of 14/15 year olds, 3rd year English. It was pretty interesting and Austrian students are actually quite different than English ones….but I’ll get more into that when I start at my own school. Then, we taught our own lesson with little 10/11/12 year olds, their 2nd year of English. They were so precious and we played a kind of game with them comparing England and the US. So much fun! I had a really great time in the class and it made me super excited to start Monday. When we asked them who lives in the White House, they ALL went “Ooobaamaa!” hahaha it was so funny! I was actually going for “the President” but it was so cute that they said Obama. 🙂 Anyway, the lesson went really well and it was so fun!
Then, we all had two hours free to do whatever we wanted. First, we hung out at a cafe and then I went back to the convent with Joy, Luke and Justin and we checked out email and relaxed a little. We left a little late to get the bus back to the nunnery (we had to do it on our own) and it was a little hectic. First, we saw some of our students from earlier in the day, so we chatted with them auf Deutsch. Second, Elisabeth told us the wrong bus stop to get off at (but we ended up getting off at the right one) and then we had to climb the “mountain” up to the Schloss in the sun. Joy and I kept talking about Anita Dall, the woman who works with Fulbright who is our coordinator/email contact/etc. etc. We were quite excited to meet her that afternoon after lunch!
Anyway, we all finally made it up the mountain and for lunch. Then…..we met Anita! She pretty much just went over all of the paperwork that we have to take care of, so it was kind of boring. At the end, I cheered her name and all the Brits outside in the courtyard heard it haha. We broke off into groups then and did a kind of feedback and wrap-up survey. Then we had dinner and it was time for the impromptu talent show segment and “closing statements.” Dan, Luke, Rich and I (all Brits, except for me-duh) all sat in the back with a bottle of wine, which Fulbright so genorously provided for us. The Brits pointed out that everyone who volunteered their talents were American and it would have been un-British for any of the Brits to get up. They had a picture slide show, and I was unsurprisingly in none of the pictures. Then we all mingled for a couple of hours with wine. I introduced myself to Anita and it was fun. Then Colin sang some German opera for Justin, Rachel, Dan, Luke and myself (he’s really good!!!) and then we took the bus back down to the nunnery. Dan, Peter, Justin and I went on a hunt for beer and then a big group of us ended up drinking again in the basement chapel. I went to bed pretty early because it had been a super long day.
Next day, aka Friday, aka today, I woke up, packed and ate breakfast. Everyone was saying bye and it was pretty sad, but I’m pretty sure I’ll see a lot of them again (mostly everyone I met is placed in my state- Steiermark- and the farthest away is really not too far because Austria really isn’t too big). Frankie and I waited around until about 11 to go to the Hauptbonhof (because we didn’t know our train only went every 2 hours and we missed the 9:38 one) and then we got on the train. We talked the whole way to Steinach-Irdning, which was my stop, and it was nice. She is living in Schladming, which isn’t too far from Bad Aussee (it costs on 6,20 Euro for me to get to her city and vice versa). The train ride was nice and it felt really good to get back to my apartment. I saw one of my landlords on the street and we talked for a little. I think he speaks most always in dialect, or at least always with a strong accent, and I noticed it was easier for me to understand him! So I think I’m getting used to the dialect/accent :)…hopefully!! Anyway, I went grocery shopping, cooked some food, put a movie on my computer and then accidentally took a nap haha. Now I’m just chilling, watching TV and relaxing. (I’m watching Star Wars: A New Hope in German, and it’s funny because now I’ve seen at least part of all of the “new” ones and now this one- I think the Austrians are obsessed with Star Wars.)
All in all, the week was a lot of fun! Thinking back through it and writing it all down makes it seem really, really short but we did A LOT! I met so many Brits, and they are all hilarious. The Americans are pretty great, too!! It’s kind of cool to think that we all came together for a week and now we are scattered across Austria, all doing the same thing. It makes me feel better to know that I’m not alone :). And I’m really happy that I have a friend really close by, (Frankie in Schladming). I already can’t wait for my November paycheck, which will be about 2.000 Euro! It’ll feel good to have some money haha. I’ll definitely go shopping and take a trip maybe to Vienna or something. We joked a little about having a big payday party, but most of me hopes it actually happens 🙂 haha.
This weekend, it’ll feel good to relax and get ready for next week! I don’t really know what I’m going to do yet, but I guess I should start planning some “getting to know you” lessons haha. I really want to find a hacky-sack or something like it here in Bad Aussee because we used one in our lesson in Graz and it was really helpful!
Anyway, I’ll be keeping you all well updated next week because it’s going to be a really big, exciting and busy week! 🙂
Hope you all are doing well and I miss you all!