Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Getting into the Viennese Groove

It's Wednesday and I'm finished with my first week of classes in my second school. It should be like this always, being done on Wednesdays (as I was told last week), but my school suddenly decided to surprise me with two morning lessons on Thursday and not tell me. Because of the miscommunication, I double-booked myself tomorrow. This month I'll be helping out with a language camp to promote their English programs in various schools across Austria. Thankfully I'm still able to help out tomorrow, as the school said it was fine if I didn't come in-- just this once.

After finally realizing yesterday that all I do here is gogogo,I took a day for myself and layed around after classes. The life I have begun to create here is so full and hectic, that I feel as though I will never have to leave Vienna if I don't want to. Last year in Braunau my life was about relaxation, learning to be comfortable with my solitude, and speaking lots of German. This year, on the other hand, it's been about networking, integrating myself into society, and constantly doing something/meeting someone, and unfortunately speaking way too much English. I suppose that's city life.

I started a beginning French class. I almost feel as though I have more of an advantage over the Austrians, since French is commonly found in the English language. And they all have major issues with pronunciation. But I still have a long way to go, and I question whether I should have taken Norwegian, a language more similar to English and German than French. Learning a foreign language from a foreign language is very interesting. I feel like I'm learning both German and French at the same time.

I've also become connected with a couple of different Christian groups here. I'm attending the Vienna Christian Center, an international congregation. Through the church I attend a life group. Also last night as I desperately sought internet at Starbucks as mine was down for a while, I ran into someone I knew from VCC and he invited me to a bible study going on right there. So I might actually do two studies this semester.

When I'm not teaching or learning French or God, I'm often at the fitness center nearby. I decided to join, although I hesitated or a while because of the year-long contract requirement. But it's still a great deal.

And when I'm not running all over the city or meeting people for coffee, I've been walking around and simply enjoying the city. There is a lot to explore!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

First Week

This week has been extremely busy. I've hardly been here in my apartment, but who would want to when a city as bustling as Vienna is waiting?!

To sum it up here has been my first (busy and expensive) week:
-two Ikea trips to buy things for my apartment
-lots of hangout time with second year TAs
-Schoenbrunn palace and labyrinth
-Lots of eating out: Naschmarkt Indian restaurant, Weltcafe (a studenty-organic-fair trade restaurant near the Uni), Fresco Burrito bar, an amazing Italian restaurant, a fast food Chinese place "Quick Lee"
-First meetings with my schools
-Hanging out with Austrians who will speak German with me :)
-Sturm (wine) festival in the outskirts of Vienna
-Walking around the city and getting lost a lot
-Church service at the international church

It's been busy busy busy. And expensive. Gotta watch the funds this year...

Vienna- First Impressions

My first official week in Vienna is coming to a close. And what a busy and expensive week it has been! I feel as though Vienna is the Austrian city that never sleeps. There is always something going on, there are people everywhere, and it is much more metropolitan than I had ever imagined.

I live in the 11th district, about a ten minute subway ride to the city center. The great thing is that I live so close to a subway station, so I can get anywhere within the main city limits within a half hour or so, depending on where I'm going. There is a busy street a block away with three grocery stores, several drug stores, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. It's a perfect location for me, as one school is a ten minute tram ride, and the other a 25 minute tram ride. I couldn't have asked for a better location. The apartment itself is decent. I've got everything that I need. It could use some decorating-TLC, but I've started to add some flair to the place. Pics to come.

What has been surprising is how metropolitan this city is. Although the Twin Cities is bigger population-wise, it seems as if there are more people who live here in Vienna. I suppose Vienna is smaller in square miles than the Twin Cities. It's been an adjustment to see people pretty much everywhere all the time. Another surprise is I can take the subway 20 minutes outside of the city center and it's still extremely metropolitan. I must add that I love the public transportation here. It is easy to navigate and you can go anywhere in the city with the trams, buses, subways, and above-ground trains. The only negative is that a month pass costs 50 euros...

Vienna is also a very cultured city. There are over 100 museums to visit, numerous palaces, a fabulous coffee culture, and many other things to do. I will never have a problem finding something to do this year. The city is also very international-- so many people from all over. I've met people from all over.

I've finally gotten over the initial shock of people everywhere and am enthusiastic about being here. Classes start tomorrow at my main school. I've got a pretty great schedule that guarantees two days off a week, Tuesdays and Friday. The second school is letting me create my own schedule, so I'll give myself Thursday and Friday off. Tuesday nights I'll be taking a French for beginners class, and Thursday nights I'll be attending a young adult cell group at the international church I'm going to. I might even join a fitness studio here in the neighborhood. It's going to be a great year!