Sunday, February 28, 2010


It is amazing how something as simple as sunshine can move someone. This last week, the Innviertel has been spoiled with ample amounts of sunshine. I honestly can't remember the last time when an entire week passed with significantly more sunshine than overcast. The temperatures have also suddenly risen to about 50 F/10 C for the better portion of the week. To celebrate the coming of spring, everyone has been out and about in the town. Cafes and coffee shops even brought out the tables and chairs to allow customers to welcome back the sun. Talking with locals I have found out that spring actually brings a lot of sun. I thought the contrary, that Braunau was just doomed for an eternal overcast sky with frequent "Nebelsuppe" (translated to fog soup).

Video of Karneval

The madness of Karneval in Cologne on Rose Monday. This video was taken at about 11am.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My trip to Deitschland

Oofda. Life has been busy, hence the gap since my last post. Actually I had plenty of down time last week to whip something up, but I was trying to take a "break" from internet since I was on vacation.

My "holiday" from school began on the 12th of February. I flew out of Salzburg with German Wings to Cologne, Germany where I was greeted by Christof, a friend from my high school German exchange program. Everyone in the city was celebrating "Karneval" (carnival), which is like a mixture between Mardi Gras and Halloween. People in New Orleans celebrate "carnival" a bit, but the real celebrations take place around the world. Everyone dresses up in lavish costumes and gathers on the streets for parades, concerts, and mostly just to drink together. It's accepted that during the week of carnival that one wakes up, puts on their costume, and begins to drink late morning and continue to the night.

I purchased a two euro "bunny" costume prior to my departure, but I made up for the lack of creativity by painting a pretty darn good bunny face on my own. After suiting up we headed into the city, lost one of our group members, I lost two cell phones (I retrieved one a couple days later), we sang some Karneval songs and drank some Cologne "Koelsch" beer.

Saturday Christof and I headed to Hoehr-Grenzhausen where I did my exchange in 2004. The following morning we went over to a friend's house and had "vodka breakfast" with some other participants from the exchange. Everyone wanted to begin the festivities early, because there was a parade heading through the town later in the afternoon. After seeing lots of "Native Americans" and cowboys, among many costumes, we headed back to Cologne to finish the festivities.

Monday I said "Tchuess" to Cologne and trained it to Erfurt. I stayed in Erfurt with my friend Jessica and her family until Friday afternoon. I did end up making a day trip over to Weimar in the middle of the week... such a nostalgic place. That's all I'm saying.

I ended my Deitschland (e bissel Dialekt) trip in Nuremberg, where I visited Katrin. Cute city, and I wish I would have seen more of it. We did make it to the former Nazi rally grounds, a fascinating sight to visit. I recommend not only touring the grounds itself, but going to the Dokumentarzentrum, which is a museum documenting the rise of Nazi power and the role of Nuremberg during that time.

And now I'm back in Braunau. It's actually so great to be back in my own space, but my week has been extremely busy. I've had a lot to prepare this week for classes, and I have tried to maintain an active and social life this week. That said, I'd rather be this busy than with nothing to do here.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Getting Sick and Getting Better

After my last post, I came down with probably the worst head cold I have had in years. It left me longing for American cold medications and in bed for a few days when I wasn't at school. Being the dedicated American that I am, I of course went to all of my classes. My remedies included eating lots of pringles and watching lots of Glee. According to Austrian standards, however, I should have called in sick after my first sneeze. Several of my teachers were gone last week anyways, so it probably wouldn't have mattered.

Being sick really made me aware of how alone I actually am here. I don't mean that in a super "emo-i-hate-my-life" way, but rather I am pointing out that I do, in fact, live alone. (As a side note, I have many more friends now here and many things to do, so I feel quite connected to the city.) But I was laying on my rock-hard Austrian bed watching Glee, I just wanted someone to come into my room and offer me some soup and a medication cocktail. And mostly, I just wanted someone with whom I could complain about my ailments.

Nonetheless, I became relatively healthy just in time for the weekend. On Thursday I headed to Linz to do some shopping and bought everything on my list, and then some. In the evening I ate at a wonderful Chinese buffet with Emily, Matt and Lisa. It reminded me of home... even the waiter had lived in Vancouver and spoke perfect North American English with us. On Friday I headed to Ried to hang out with Heather, and we enjoyed a night on the town. Yesterday I headed back to Braunau only to leave shortly thereafter with the Church youth group I recently became connected with. We went to Wels to a worship concert thing, and it was a lot of fun. And today I ended my weekend with church, a workout, and finally seeing Avatar in 3-D.

Just a short week of classes and fun, and then I'm back to Deutschland on Friday for Karnavel in Cologne!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Getting Old

I turned 23 on Thursday. It was my first birthday that I ever celebrated in another country. A bit of background information: birthdays are a big deal for me. I know that sounds childish, but it's the one day where everyone has to bow down to me and I can truly act like the only child that I am and no one has a right to tell me to stop. That said, each year as I grow older, I tone down the "look at me, damnit!" mantra more and more.

In any case, I was curious to see how my birthday would play out in Braunau. I didn't tell anyone in advance at school (other than a few friends I had invited to my party), but people still figured it out... thank you Facebook. In the morning my teachers bought me some pretty flowers and one of my classes sang "Happy Birthday" (actually more like happy birsday) to me. And also on Friday my other school gave me a giant ten pound book on Upper Austria, the province where I live.

Thursday evening Nate and Heather arrived and we went out to dinner with Stephanie, a student of mine, and Carolyn and Fabi of Simbach. The restaurant was quite nice, except my food tasted like it soaked in salmon for five days. After dinner we enjoyed a private party at a local club, since no one was there except a few others.

Friday I attended open house at the HAK and walked around and sold the English department to interested students by explaining the advantages of having an English teaching assistant. I must say, I am surprised by how many parents could actually understand me and engage in conversations with me in English. While I was at school, Heather and Nate baked me an "inside joke" cake and decorated the house.

Friday evening my American TA friends all headed over and we kicked off my birthday house party. I had slaved over the kitchen all week making dips, breads, tortes, etc. A few of my students also came by and brought some Austrian treats, and it was a grand old time. We taught the Austrians some very valuable things about America and everyone had a good time. Saturday I took some of my friends who remained all weekend over to Germany, and then we chilled and played telephone pictionary and chatted all evening.

Now the aftermath of the weekend is hitting me. I must have not treated my body well the last few days, because I have come down with a pretty annoying head cold. It's enough to keep me inside and sitting, but the sun is out today, something that rarely happens, and I just really want to go outside. But my head is pounding. Uggggh.