Thursday, March 24, 2011

Norsk-Norwegisch-Norwegian

I started learning Norwegian again in preparation for my trip to Bergen in June. I forgot how EASY it is to learn a Germanic language when I've got two under my belt already (English and German). In a matter of two hours, I've breezed through two chapters and it's stayed with me.

On the other hand, I took a French class last semester once a week for 15 weeks, and I only made it through 3 or 4 chapters. And I've forgotten nearly everything. French didn't make sense, the nasal sounds threw me off, and I had no incentive of learning the language, albeit a hypothetical future trip to southern France.

Norwegian is so easy to learn; it's almost a mixture of English and German. Jeg liker a laerer Norsk. Still need to figure out where to find the Norwegian accent marks on the computer.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Finding My Place

Things have completely turned around for me the last few weeks. Now that I've spent some quality time with my city, Vienna, I am starting to feel "at home" once again, and I've started to appreciate how wonderful this city is.

From December - mid February I was gone nearly every second weekend traveling somewhere. That kind of uprooting left me feeling distant and out-of-touch during the time spent in Vienna. Add to that the stress of my undetermined future and whether or not staying in Austria another year would be the best option, and the result was a confused and unhappy Amber. A few other stressful and hurtful events took place, and I hit a low where I thought going home sounded pretty attractive.

However, after hitting that "low", things have significantly turned around for me. I pulled myself back up, dusted myself off, and decided to STOP worrying about the future and START enjoying what I have now. Simply put, I finally learned to be content. Once I decided to take control of my situation and make it better, I started feeling at home again, got to know some new people, and started re-living my routine. It feels so good to have a routine that stays constant for several weeks.

I had forgotten why I wanted to come to Vienna in the first place; now I remember. And it feels like home. Maybe it will also be my home for another year. Nothing's official, but circumstances are definitely in my favor.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Getting My Groove On

Last night I started my very first dance class called "Tango Meets Modern". It's individual floor dancing inspired by Latin tango moves but with a modern twist. The class is taught in German, although many words overlap: "flex", "point", "plie", etc.

Now, I've done floor and step aerobics classes where I've done choreographed numbers, but dancing is a whole new world for me. My body is used to physical activity during which I remain somewhat rigid and mechanical, for example when I go running or lift at the gym. I'd like to think I'm quite athletic and in the best shape I've ever been in based on my cardio endurance, but man-- dancing is HARD. It was hard for me to loosen up my body and "flow" like the dancers in class who had clearly had prior experience. My dance experience comes from shaking my body in an obnoxious way to Top 40s, or the Jumpstyle number I learned at German camp. That's it.

That said, I'm very enthusiastic about the class. It's a great work out, and it's a lot of fun. Hopefully I'll learn how to "relax my body" and "feel the music".

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Interview

I have an interview on Thursday at the pre-school where I had applied last month... my very first interview in another country. Thankfully it will most likely be conducted in English.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Vienna Opera Ball-- Stalking Austrian Celebrities

Last night the biggest and most famous ball in the entire world take place here in Vienna: the Opernball. It was purely coincidental that I found myself in my sweatpants sitting in front of the TV at about 9pm watching all the action from the red carpet. Celebrities and high society folks attended the ball in outrageously expensive and extravagant floor length ball gowns and tuxedos. The live coverage on TV reminded me somewhat of the Oscars, except I didn't know any of the attendees.

The ball took place at the Opera house and was opened with a ballet dance performance. An orchestra played some songs and some famous opera singer had some solos. Then some famous débutantes from around the world danced traditional waltzes and the ball opened.

I felt cultured enough to be allowed to watch the event unfold live on TV in the comfort of my own apartment in sweatpants.

Flash forward to 11:30pm in bed. I noticed a text message from a friend of mine saying she was on her way into the city to stalk celebrities outside of the ball, and that I should come too. Somehow she convinced me, and at about midnight we arrived outside of the ball on the red carpet cameras in hand. We were only a couple of maybe six or seven awkward observers, but soon enough people started lining up to see the action. We literally were standing on the red carpet right outside of the opera and no one ever told us to piss off. In America, there would have been guards all around, but in Vienna there were just photographers and women dressed in fur coats handing out roses and traditional Fasching (Carnival) Season Krapfen (donuts) from Strock. Only in Austria would one be allowed to eat powdered sugar donuts on the red carpet. Soon the carpet was sprinkled with the sugary substance and it looked as if it had started to snow.

The highlight of the night was when the Vienna mayor Michael Häupl exited the building and started walking to the line of taxis. Heather and I got ready with our cameras, and he must have noticed, because he took a detour and started walking our way. I thought he was going to scold us for taking a photo as an awkward bystander, but rather, he and his wife came up to us, shook our hands and offered us his roses. Meanwhile a swarm of paparazzi surrounded us and took photos of the kind gesture.

Today I've been browsing online Austrian newspapers to look for that photo.