A Smorgasbord of a Post: Spring, Hitchhiking and DVD Players

Photo by Josef Stuefer

Small town living has given me time to consider and observe. Since I’ve been here, life, for me, has slowed down considerably. There is time to share a coffee and pastry with my landlord, have a meandering walk to the grocery store (but before 7:30 pm, because that’s when it closes!), listen to the birds chirping in the morning and evening or take a bath if I so desire. And while I didn’t end up penning that elusive first novel, I’ve been able to make many valiant attempts. This year has been a welcome break from the hustle-and-bustle that was the University of Michigan.

And so, now, I give you my observations of the week, which are not much to publish in independently, but combined, make a nice smorgasbord of thoughts…

  • Bad Aussee is GREEN. Last Saturday, walking to the train station, I felt like my eyes opened for the first time. In the past two weeks, the snow has melted off all but the highest peaks, I’ve sun-bathed on my balcony in shorts and a tank top and we’ve had a few days of rain and cloud cover. The result: green, in every shade! The trees are sprouting their leaves, buds are budding and the grass is growing at an astounding rate. My walk to school is shaded in yellow-green, emerald green, evergreen, lime green, pea green and everything in between. I thought I knew what green was, but know I really know.
  • Hitchhiking is OK when you live in the middle of nowhere. My parents, grandparents, media and campfire horror stories all taught me that hitchhiking was bad. And inevitably ended in kidnapping and/or death. There is a sign on the drive to my cottage in Gaylord, MI that says, “PRISON ZONE: Don’t pick up hitchhikers.” … OK, OK — hitchhiking is wrong and dangerous: I get it. But in the last two weeks, I’ve been the hitchhiker twice and in the vehicle picking up a hitchhiker once. And you know what, it was a fun, even pleasant, experience each time. I think my small-town area lends itself to hitching. When you could stick out that thumb or walk the 3 km to your destination under the hot sun, I’d say the choice is clear. I no longer have qualms about trying to catch a ride whilst trudging along. However, not sure I’d do it in the US…
  • I hate my DVD player on my computer. Why is it that computer DVD players cannot play DVDs from all regions? Why?? I purchased my computer in the United States and it can only play Region 1 DVDs, which have been produced, purchased and intended for viewing in the United States (and Canada). But guess what? I live in Austria, a Region 2 country. I’ve watched the same DVDs all year, and while my British friend, Frankie, can buy a new DVD every time boredom strikes, I cannot. Please, computer companies, take folks like myself and other expats into consideration next time and start producing region-less DVD players, OK? Thank you.

So, what has been on your mind this week? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Until next time!
Cheers,
Alaina

A Very Styrian St. Patrick’s Day

Yesterday, as you all know, was St. Patrick’s Day. I had two classes yesterday, and only two students were wearing green! A little sad, but oh well. I told the students they could pinch those who were not wearing green, and I ended up with the whole class PUNCHing each other, so I had to put a quick end to that. As you can imagine, St. Patrick’s Day is not a very big holiday here in the middle of Austria, but I found a way to celebrate.

First, I scoured the grocery stores for Guinness — no luck. But, inspiration struck and I instead purchased normal Gösser beer and some food coloring — Voilà! my very own homemade green beer. Of course, I needed the other Irish staple, potatoes, in my celebration, so I picked up a bag of potato chips. Ha Ha.

My St. Patrick’s Day “meal”
Maize + blue = green!

Zandra, an English assistant from a few years ago who settled down here in BA, invited me over to her house for some whiskey before we headed to Salzhaus, the local, and only, disco. She had Bushmills, and it reminded me of friends from home. At Salzhaus, there was a St. Patrick’s Day celebration of sorts — Guinness, whiskey, lots of my students and Irish music. I had dug up some green eyeliner, and we gave everyone a shamrock on their cheek. Zandra gave the bartender green food coloring, so everyone was getting green beer last night! Also, Zandra had convinced the Austrians that the Irish wear potato necklaces on St. Patrick’s Day, ha ha! We all had legumes around our necks…

Mmm, I love Guinness!
Salzhaus celebration
Woooo, St. Patrick’s Day!
Someone got a little inappropriate with the green eyeliner…

The students had brought a big Irish flag with them to the bar, and today it was hanging in their classroom.

Yesterday was my first time really drinking whiskey, and I must say I like it. Never could I drink straight vodka or rum, but straight Irish whiskey is actually quiet tasty. I also had an Irish whiskey highball, which is ginger ale and Irish whiskey, but last night’s drink also had muddled lime and lemon in it. Very delicious! However, the whiskey did give me a pretty bad hangover headache…

Also today, I was in my first class and noticed that something stank like poo. I thought nothing of it, maybe a smell had gotten in the class from outside. I went to my next class and sat down to read an article with them. I again noticed the smell. I thought, “It must be me that smells…” I then looked down at my shoe and saw DOG POOP all over it! I pulled my foot up to my nose to check, and, indeed, it was poo. The students found this absolutely hilarious and laughed as I put the shoe in the hallway. Took a while to get the class back in order after that one.

I’m going to Graz this weekend — looking forward to getting out of Bad Aussee and seeing some friends. I’m getting quite excited to go home — I really miss my family and friends from home. Not long now!

Cheers,
Alaina

Random, but somewhat notable.

Just so you know: if you type “I can remember standing by the wall” into http://google.com, my blog, namely, the entry entitled “I, I can remember standing by the wall” comes up as the third result! Neat-o, eh? Try it out!

Also important: I have decided to spend the summer in Rochester Hills, Michigan! It’s not quite official yet, since I don’t have my ticket, but I’ll be there. I’m flying from Vienna to New York City and then spending the weekend in NYC with my mom and sister. Could there be a better way to end my year abroad than by spending it in New York City? The answer you’re looking for is “No.” Now I just have to find a job…

Not much else to say these days. Spent the weekend all alone in Bad Aussee because I had no money (and it got SO BORING by the end) and there is some snow on the ground today (Grr.). Today, I have my Class From Hell again, so I’ll let you all know how it goes! Hopefully today will be over QUICK. I need to go grocery shopping – yay Pay Day!

Hope all is well with everyone! Miss you all and can’t wait to see you in 11 weeks or so.

Cheers,
Alaina