La belle fleur sauvage

La Belle Fleur Sauvage is one of my favorite Lord Huron songs. The title means “the beautiful wildflower.” It has the pathos of an anti-love song; the flower does not deign to be partnered with a man.

What you're looking for won't be found easily
It grows upon the mountain in a sacred place
Up beyond the clouds, in ancient ground, so they say
And many men have died trekking up that away

What motif has been more captivating to the male mind than a beautiful, dangerous woman?

The song, though a favorite, can be read as problematic. It is about a man who would be the one to pluck this women-flower, and, when he dies, he wants her lying by his side in his grave.

Once he's gazed upon her, a man is forever changed
The bravest men return with darkened hearts and phantom pain
Ages come and go but her life goes on the same
She lives to see the sun and feel the wind and drink the rain

I prefer to focus on the eery imagery describing the woman.

She reminds me of the Loreley/Lorelei, a siren legend born on the shores of Germany’s Rhein River. The myth was derived from a particularly perilous curve of the river. Dangerous not only because of strong currents, but also because of the echoing effect of one bank’s steep rock face, which was named “Loreley” in part from the German verbs lureln (to murmur) and lauern (to lurk, lie in wait). There are many forms of this myth, but Heinrich Heine’s poem “Die Lorelei” immortalized her. A statue was erected to commemorate her spirit.

The fairest maiden is sitting
In wondrous beauty up there,
Her golden jewels are sparkling,
She combs her golden hair.

She combs it with a golden comb
And sings a song the while;
It has an awe-inspiring,
Powerful melody.

It seizes the boatman in his skiff
With wildly aching pain;
He does not see the rocky reefs,
He only looks up to the heights.

I think at last the waves swallow
The boatman and his boat;
And that, with her singing,
The Loreley has done.

The Lorelei lurks there, even still: the last major wreck was in 2011.

A beautiful wildflower, indeed.

Rock and roll never forgets

Hmm… I only posted twice in December. Wow, I’m getting a little bad at this haha. Anyway!…

Since the last time I posted, I spent a weekend in Leoben and have been to the US for 3 weeks and am back again! After I went to Graz, I visited Joy in Leoben for my last weekend in Austria. She had a Maturaball that weekend, so she invited me down. Leoben is a really nice town, a lot bigger than Bad Aussee, (but then agan, nearly everything is, ha). We enjoyed the Christmas market (and rode the ferris wheel!) and did a little bit of shopping (they have a huge mall), which was nice. The Maturaball was the best I’ve been to. Wes joined up with us, and I got to meet a lot of their students. We managed to stay until the DJ stopped playing his music! Good times. It was a great way to end my first “semester” in Austria.

The day I left for MĂĽnchen, (where I flew from), Nichol came round and we had some drinks before I left her with my keys and we parted ways. The journey to the airport hotel was long and confusing and very difficult with all of my luggage, but I made it! The flight went smoothly and after a total 32 hours of traveling, I was greeted by my amazing family and wonderful best friends. 🙂 We immediately went out for Mexican food and margs, as that was what I was craving most. And boy, was it great! The rest of break was relaxing and very American. I went to Ann Arbor twice to hit the bars and see old friends, visited with my family, watched nearly all 5 seasons of The Office with my mom, and explored my hometown in a way only a 21 year old can! Oh, I must mention that I and two of my best friends, Hilary and Emily, did blowjob shots at Gus O’Connor’s with my mom and her best friend – their treat! That was definitely a highlight. It was so strange, though, because everything was EXACLTY the same! It felt like I hadn’t even been gone for 6.5 months… And, of course, I miss it already, but my dad and grandma will be here in February, so yaayyy!

Now, after 18 hours of traveling Friday-Saturday, I’m back, safe, in Austria…but missing one suitcase. Supposedly, it will be returned to me on Wednesday, but we’ll see. It’s the one with all of my clothes, so I better get it soon! The trip was only filled with some minor delays, but it was a lot easier than the trip TO the US. Frankie and Nichol greeted me in Bad Aussee and we had an awesome reunion.

Last night, I couldn’t sleep at all. It was horrible. Hopefully my sleeping pattern will be back on track now, because I can’t stand another night of tossing and turning.

Aaand school started back up today. Pheww. Luckily, I didn’t have to be here until 9:55, but I have to stay until 2:45. Ugh. But Friday is pay day, so I can’t really complain! 🙂

This weekend, is my “post New Year’s New Year’s Party” and I’m really excited to have everyone over again! The actual New Year’s is on Saturday, and the theme is “dress as your drink.” Should be hilarious. I have my drink, Red Hot Lover, and outfit all picked out, can’t wait to take photos! Everyone is coming round Friday, though, so it’ll be a fun-filled weekend.

Ahh, I guess that’s about it for now. I still have to do a post about some differences between America-Germany-Austria and “Bad Aussee-tucky,” but I’ll get to that later this week, hopefully. But for now, I’m about to start class…and I’ll be outta here soonish.

Love to all!
Cheers,
Alaina

ps, Ummm… I turn 22 in less than a month! What the heck, I’m getting old…

My mind’s racing from chasin pirates

So my first time hosting Thanksgiving went perfectly! I was so happy to have all of my best friends in Austria at my house and spreading the Thanksgiving love. The entire group was 9 people, including myself. 2 boys, 7 ladies, 4 American and 5 Brits! The Brits really loved our holiday and totally got into it. Especially Nichol, who cooked the entire dinner by herself! I tried to help, really, but she continually shooed me out of the kitchen. I did mash the potatoes though, of course!

After dinner, we went out to the “Krampusumzug.” Krampus is an Alpine Christmas tradition in which the men of the town (I believe) dress up at these insanely scary devil characters and run around with leather and wooden whips. Now, I had heard that they whip the women and children, but I didn’t actually think they would WHIP you. Boooy, was I wrong! After the parade (they all marched into town), the barriers were suddenly gone and the monsters were everywhere! I was just standing, watching one walk up to me, and then he just whipped me right on my legs with a wooden whip (looked like a broom)! I screamed, and we went home right after that. I still have the marks to prove it…

And I must include that we played an INSANE game of American vs. British charades. It was the most intense charades game I’ve ever played. Twas awesome.

It’s been a good week so far. The class that I hate still never listens to a word I say, but I think they like me anyway. We joked a lot today in class, which is a good sign. I’ve had to be at school at 8 am for Monday and Tuesday and the same tomorrow. I don’t usually have to be there at 8 am everyday, so I’m a bit tired. But, my favorite teacher gave me such a nice compliment today saying that she loves what I’m doing and she’s pleased with me and such. It made me happy :). The teachers usually say thanks and stuff, but I’m not sure they actually mean it.

Anyway! I found out yesterday that I have a 5-day weekend coming up! Needless to say, I’m excited. I’m going on Friday to Graz to visit some other assistants and I’m driving down with a teacher! I think she’s continuing on to Wien, though, and I considered doing that as well, but I think I’ll take the train back on Sunday instead. I want to go to Salzburg on Monday and I think I’ll go skiing for the first time on Tuesday in Schladming! Frankie invited me, so if there is snow- why not! It’ll be cool to go skiing at least once before I got home.

Speaking of HOME, 2 weeks and 2 days! I bought my train ticket to Munich today- leaving on Wednesday the 16th at 16:17 and arriving at 20:34. Then spending the night in Munich and flying off Thursday morning at 10 am! And landing at 7:42 pm in Detroit (after a layover in HOT-lanta)!!! Woooooo! Soooo excited! I’m getting quite anxious to get home. Can’t wait to see everyone and everything!

Well not too much else to say: life’s good and can’t wait to go home. That’s about it!

Until next time…
Cheers,
Alaina

I, I can remember standing by the Wall…

Today is the 20 year anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Being in Austria, another German speaking country, I thought there’d be a little more celebration, or at least someone talking about it. However, in school, not a word was mentioned. Even the news coverage here has been scarce. Granted, I’ve been watching ORF all night and they just play American TV series on Monday night, but there wasn’t much even on the news. I guess it really just highlights and reiterates that they are two very different countires.

I just so wish I had been in Berlin today. I bet it felt really good in that city today. I’m going in January, but it doesn’t feel soon enough…

By the way, the song “Heroes” by David Bowie, which I have used in my subject line, is a love story about two people who met at the Wall.

Well, I know I haven’t updated in a while. But I will later this week.

Sending my love to all!
Cheers,
Alaina

Welcome to the Good Life

GrĂĽĂź Gott!(*WARNING: this post is very long!!!*

The last week before my mom came to Germany was pretty uneventful. I don’t remember anything specific that I did, but I know I went to class everday expect for Friday (when my mom came!) and probably went out a few times. I also went early to the Mediothek quite a bit to study some German and Maude said that I spoke only German all week, which is kind of funny. It was getting really close to the end, so we were all hanging out a bit and just enjoying each other.

So… my mom came on Friday the 21st! I met her at the train station around 1 and definitely skipped class. I brought her to my room, we drank a beer, then we went around the city. Of course, the first day, we had Schnitzel! Mmmmm, so good! The next day, Saturday, we took the train to Basel and went to the Van Gogh exhibit at the Kunst Museum Basel, and it was really, really nice. We walked around the city a little bit, got some food and then headed back to Freiburg. That night, we went out to Thai food (delicious!) and had a nice evening. I left her at the dorm for the night and went out with a group of people…probably to Agar, but I can’t remember… Sunday, we were going to go to Baden-Baden but decided against it and went out to breakfast at Uni Cafe. Then, we made our way to the Seepark! So nice, as always! My mom loved it, I didn’t get burned and there were not too many naked people- perfect day! We ended the day with half-a-chicken and it was a perfect Sunday.

The last week in Freiburg was nice. I spent about half the time with my mom and half the time we friends. Monday night, I think it was, Sarah, Maude, Pac-man and I went FINALLY to Augustinerplatz to sit and drink a beer. It was a really chill time and I’m glad that I did it before leaving Freiburg! Tuesday night Maude and I went to Stammtisch, only to immediately turn around and leave because it was so packed and hot. We went to Cafe Brazil and had a drink and just chatted and then called it an early night. My mom and I made breakfast everyday but Wednesday, we met Maude in the city for breakfast at Aspekt. Oh my gosh- so delicious! It was the biggest breakfast I had ever seen and so yummy haha. Then, we went into the city to purchase me some new shoes, because my Converses are pretty dead. I got some nice Pumas, but ended up getting them too small, so I had to exchange them the next day (I LOVE THEM!!). Anyway, Wednesday night, Maude, Pac-man and I went to Shooters and had a few drinks and chilled. Some German dudes sat by us and chatted Maude and I up, and we made them guess where I am from. For some reason, they first guessed Luxembourg because of my accent haha. Then, they decided Russia, or some Eastern European country. The US was the last possible country they could guess, and finally they did haha. Sometime during this week, I Skyped with Hilary and Amy it was a lot of fun!!! I miss you ladies so much and hope you’re having a good welcome week!! xoxo

Thursday was the last day of class. We watched a movie, “M”, which was boring but then my class went to a cafe together for cake and coffee, and it was really nice. Thursday night was a really good night. Fernando, Sabri, Nassim, Aturo, Sarah, Maude, Francesca, Pac-man and I all went out to eat at Karma (which was not that good…) and then Fernando, Pac, Aturo, Maude, Sarah and I went to Shooters and had about 4 SchĂĽttler shots each haha. The “SchĂĽttler” is when you have lemon juice and blue curacao (I think) in two different shot glasses, take them together, and swish them around in your mouth (German verb for this is “schĂĽtteln”, hence the name) and then swallow. So fun!! After that, we all tried to get into Kagan, but since only the girls were on the guest list (thanks to Sarah!), the dudes couldn’t get in and they went home. It was some kind of special night at Kagan, with a singer, so it was super packed! But it was a really fun night- I enjoyed dancing with my girls 🙂 and some dude took pictures of us and they are on some party website now- funny!!

The next day, I had to pack up all the remaining stuff and head out nice and early….. My mom and I were in a mad rush all morning packing, checking out and trying to figure out how to pick up our rental car. Somehow, we managed it all and I even sent my transcripts from Goethe. Finally, by about 12 noon, we were on our way to Bad Aussee! I navaigated us all the way, and my mom drove superbly. The landscape was so cool, especially when we got into Austria (ALPS!!) and it was a really nice and easy ride. …Except that it was 8 hours long haha. We ended up about 1.5 hours late to meet my landlord, but that’s alright since she was still waiting for us.

And- wow- let me tell you: my city is gorgeous! There are the “lower” Alps all around the city and trees and low hanging clouds and lakes and everything is amazing. The town is quiant, but not too small, and I think I will really enjoy it. Also, my apartment couldn’t be more perfect! I had a living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom- all separate. The bedroom is small, but it has a big bed and a window facing on the most crowded street in BA haha. But it’s OK. There is a dishwasher in the kitchen and a clothes washer RIGHT in the bathroom so it’s pretty neat. And- the very best part- is that I have a balcony!!!!!!! It’s actually like a little deck built on the roof of my landlord’s place, but it’s outside, has a view and a chair and I couldn’t ask for more! My mom helped clean and unpack and decorate a bit so now it actually feels like home!

Anyway, so we stayed in BA (that’s what all the license plates say- BA! haha) for approximately 12 hours and then made our way to Vienna on Saturday morning. We didn’t have any directions, just an atlas and a small city map in a guidebook, but we found our way all the way to the hotel…somehow…without getting lost! Vienna was a great city. We walked around, met mom’s friend Sarah, who married an Austrian and was visiting in-laws at the time, and had a pretty chill time. We went to the big castle, Schönnbrunn, and did a neat little tour! Let me tell you, the Hapsburgs were badasses and liked to show it. I also happened to buy this really cheesy, kitschy display plate with Franz Joseph and his wife Sisi on it hahah- very funny actually. We went up to the hunting lodge and had a beer and then walked back down again, very enjoyable! On Sunday night, we went to a concert of Strauss and Mozart’s music and it was so much fun! I didn’t think it would be, but I really liked it. The only problem was, we couldn’t find the stupid place at first and we were running around the city like idiots, but we finally found it haha. In Vienna, we ate Wiener Schnitzel twice, and it was good. We also somehow managed to get free breakfast both days, even though it should have been €60 all-together haha… ask my mother for the details.

Anyway, on Monday morning, we made our way back to Salzburg. We only stayed there for about 18 hours, but it was well worth it. We went to “Die Weisse” restaurant and got Hungarian goulash, which is somehow actually an Austrian dish and it was very good. Then we crossed the river into the downtown area and just explored, which was very nice! We went back to the hotel and I watched 10 Things I Hate About You in German and it was funny.

We left early-ish on Tuesday and took our time exploring on the drive back to Bad Aussee. We stopped at Dachstein (a mountain peak) and took a cable car up and got some good pictures, then we drove through Halstatt and admired the lake. We got back to BA a little early, which was good. We went grocery shopping and tried to find internet (which doesn’t exist in BA, apparently) and then worked on setting up my apartment. We watched House in German, an episode which my mom had previously seen, so she knew what was going on. Wednesday, we wanted to explore the area a little more, so we drove around and went to Altaussee, which is a pretty nice lake, but my mom wasn’t too impressed. Then, we went back to BA, tried again to find internet, but instead found the Kurpark and the Mercedes Benz bridge! This park is so beautiful and the bridge is neat! It symbolizes the geographic middle point of Austria and of Europe, but it’s kind of strange to have a Mercedes Benz symbol shaped bridge in the middle of such a tiny town haha. Anyway, then we went back to my apartment and watched the Grey’s Anatomy season finale in German and even though I didn’t understand half of it I still cried and my mom thought it was great even though she understood nothing haha.

Thursday was a really nice day, as we actually made it to a nice lake- Grundlsee. According to my mom, not a prettier lake exists in the world (but I’m not sure, the jury is still out on that one haha). It was really nice, though, and not crowded at all! The water was freezing, but we still swam a little, and it was really clear. The weather was perfect! Then, we went back to my place, had dinner and packed up for Munich the next day!

Friday morning, we drove to Munich! I love this city. We had a difficult time finding the hotel and the car return place, but we ending up with no problems- somehow! Then, the first tourist-y thing we did, of course, was go to the Hofbräuhaus. Yum! I finally saw the sign: “Durst ist schlimmer als Heimweh” (thurst is worse than homesickness) and I think I am going to adopt it as my motto, since I’m already a little homesick and apprehensive for this year. Anyway, we explored the city a little, traveled around via the U-Bahn and had a nice time. We got some really delicious mussels, which made my mom really happy.

We had to wake up at 3:15 am because my mom left the hotel at 4 am. I was very sad. I slept for another couple of hours and it was weird being in the hotel alone! But I woke up and had a really nice breakfast and then made my way back to the internet cafe and I’m about to get ready to go back to Bad Aussee via train.

Phew. So that has been the last three weeks. It was weird leaving Freiburg. I thought I would feel more sad or something, but really it was just like anything else. My two best friends from the place, Maude and Sarah, both live in Switzerland and already are planning to come visit, so that’s not too bad. I also already have plans to go back to Freiburg at the end of September, so I won’t miss the city too much. I guess it’s just another chapter in my life- I took a lot of pictures, have a lot of memories, learned a lot, met a lot of people- but it had to end. Some people I’ll stay friends with, some I won’t. That’s just how it goes. I just can’t believe how fast the 3 months went by! I think my German improved a little bit, but not a whole lot. However, I did pass C1 (the highest level) with a “Sehr Gut” (very good) so I should be proud. I know I’ll look back on this summer with really fond memories, so I’m glad it happened and I wouldn’t change anything.

Being in Austria is weird. I have only been in the country for a week all-together, but when I came to Munich for the last 24 hours, it was obvious how much I missed Germany and how different the two countries actually are. Mostly, I’m referring to language. When Austrians speak, their dialect is so strong, I can barely understand anything. I heard a bunch of young kids speaking, and I was shocked. For example, if they want to say “What is that?” –> German: “Was ist das?” –> Austrian dialect: “Wos ist dos?” Omg! So their vowels sound funny and it’ll take a little getting used to, but it’ll be hilarious to “impress” my other German-speaking friends with my Austrian dialect afterwards haha. The small town is a little shocking. For one thing, I don’t have internet in yet in my apartment. This would be OK in any other city, as bigger cities have internet cafes or T-Mobile hot spots, but Bad Aussee doesn’t. So, I have to go about getting internet installed in my apartment…so that should be fun. Oooh, but I do have a cell phone… ask my mom or dad for the number, because I forget it right now…. And, in my city, every other store is a traditional German clothing store- i.e. Lederhosen and Dirndls (I think I spelled that wrong). Plus, I’ve actually seen people around town dressed in such clothes! Hilarious, precious, and a little weird, too.

I’m also a little apprehensive about living totally alone. Once I get in the groove of things and learn how things go in the city it shouldn’t be too bad. The whole thing will take some getting used to, but I’m up for the challenge. 🙂

Anyway, like I said, I’m going to Freiburg at the end of September and hopefully I’ll be going to Bad Neustadt or WĂĽrzburg to visit Kerstin. I also really want to go to Oktoberfest, but I have no plans yet…so we’ll see.

Blah, OK, this post is long enough. Congrats to anyone who read it all the way through! Hopefully it won’t be too long until I post again (meaning, too long until I get internet in my apartment).

Until next time! Love! Cheers!
GrĂĽzi,
Alaina