Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Gleeful Lesson

Today I did a lesson on Glee. That's right, I did an entire lesson on America's second most popular TV Show (I checked the ratings last night) for Austrian students ages 15 - 16. And they totally loved it. One of my students is even an avid online watcher.

The series premieres here on Monday. It'll sadly be dubbed, but the songs will remain in its original tone. So RTL, you can thank me when your ratings from Vienna are higher than anticipated, since all of my students have probably already told everyone how cool the show is going to be.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Last week I had the pleasure of accompanying my friend Carina to Tyrol with two friends. We stayed with her mother, Moni, and Moni's boyfriend, Sigi. They live in a cute house in the Inn valley surrounded by mountains. I had the most amazing view from my bedroom window.

We stayed for a total of five days, and the whole time can be summed up as followed: AMAZING HOSPITALITY! Moni and Sigi were the best hosts in the world and cared for our every want and need. Our stomachs never even had a chance to grumble from hunger.

Other activities included:
-sleigh ride through the mountains
-visiting the Swarovski headquarters and buying earrings from Swarovski
-eating lots of Austrian food and drinking lots of coffee
-spending a lot of time in the little Austrian "nook" kitchen table with Moni and Sigi drinking wine and playing a fun card game called "Hausdepp" (loosely translated as house dummie)
-Mountain village meets farming community night club
-visiting Innsbruck
-Carina's car breaking down on the way back home, waiting for two hours in a small village off the highway, and starting up again with a rental car
-falling in love with Tyrol (wish that could be the name of some hot Austrian mountain farmer, but it's the name of the region where we were)

And from this vacation came the best experience of 2011, and quite possibly the best experience I've ever had in Austria: SLEIGH RIDE in the mountains. It was just like the movies. Two stocky horses led us through a snowy path into the depths of the mountain valley while we sat comfortably with thick wool blankets to keep us warm. We also enjoyed some free homemade schnapps from the driver. I took the most amazing photos, which I could probably compile into my own Alpine winter calendar and sell for profits.

After this past week, I just might have to look into employment, academic or nuptial options in Tyrol.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sometimes When German gets Translated Directly, It Makes Me Cringe.

School has started and my three week vacation is sadly over. I have so much to write about since New Years, but that'll have to wait. (As a teaser, I spent a week in Tyrol in the Alps and it truly was magical.)

But for now I must let the 16 year old self out of me for a minute: breast warts. The correct anatomical term for nipples in German is called "Brustwarzen" which literally translates to "breast warts". To be honest, I have no idea how we came to learn this, but as soon as my American friend and I gave my Austrian friend a perplexing look, she went on to try to describe what it was: "Do you know what a witch has on her nose? That's called a warze." Then it suddenly became clear to me what the German translation literally means. Brust= breast. Warzen= warts. Breast-warts.

Sometimes the German language is totally logical. And sometimes it makes me laugh my head off.

Monday, January 3, 2011

"Sliding" into 2010: New Years in Vienna

Happy New Year!

A common New Years saying before the actual event is to wish someone a "guten Rutsch", which means a "good slide" into the new year.

And let me tell you, the Austrians know how to celebrate this holiday in style. Never in my life have I had so much fun and experienced such interesting NY traditions.

For the holiday weekend my friend Katrin from Germany and her two friends came to stay with me. We got a bit "aufgebitcht" (that was for you Kristen) and headed over to my friend Carina's for a raclette and fondue party. For those of you who don't know what raclette is, it's a type of cheese from Switzerland that is commonly served on a "raclette grill" so that it is heated up and then served with meat, potatoes, and vegetables. Like most Austrians, Carina played the perfect role of hostess and had party favors and traditional activities planned alongside the dinner party.

A traditional activity on New Years here in Austria is to determine your fortune for the new year. To do this, one takes a small shape made from metal (i.e. a clock, a cat, a four-leaf clover, etc) and places is it on a spoon to melt over a candle flame. Nearby is a bowl of water, so that when the shape has melted, it can be thrown quickly into the water to create a new form. The next step is to take the form out and look at it and figure out what it now looks like (i.e. a dragon, a bird, a leaf, etc) and look it up online to get a fortune. I ironically started with a cat and ended up with a cat. There was no denying that it looked like a cat. However, because cat was not an option online, I had to turn the shape and it suddenly looked like a bird. My fortune: You will have luck. Maybe that means I'll find a way to stay in Austria after Fulbright!

Afterwards we sat in front of the TV to watch a short black and white British sketch called "Dinner for One" that is extremely popular here. I had never heard of it, but apparently it's always on TV for New Years in Austria.

After eating, getting our fortunes, watching the sketch and drinking Austrian drinks, we all headed out to Vienna's downtown area to ring in the new year. We arrived at about 10pm, and it was already completely packed and crazy. For New Years the entire downtown, from the city hall; to the University; to St.Stephen's square, is decorated with lights and banners, and there are stages on every corner that blast a specific genre of music. We ended up at Freyung at the Oe3 stage, where we listened to Spice Girls and Britney all night among other pop singers. On the stage there were performers and people danced everywhere. When the clock struck midnight, people started waltzing in the streets.

So America, if you want me to return, you better start creating some darn good New Years traditions; otherwise I'm staying here for 2012 as well!