Thursday, October 27, 2011


So excited for Halloween. I just finished putting the final touches on my homemade costume and am still wearing it in anticipation for all the upcoming festivities. I decided to keep it simple and wear the same thing I wore last year: a spider costume. It was such a hit last year, and I'm looking forward to seeing the kids' reactions tomorrow at school.

Tomorrow is a Halloween Parade at school, which means that I have to come in costume. I'm excited for all the Austrians to stare at us as we walk around the block with the kids all dressed up.

My friend Jesse flies in tomorrow afternoon from Zurich and will be staying through Tuesday --> SO excited!

Saturday is a Halloween party in a castle. I'm pumped.

And then there is the real Halloween on Monday. That means at least three opportunities to rock my costume this weekend! I just hope the kids don't destroy it tomorrow at work!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Austria National Day!

Today on October 26 Austria is celebrating its National Day. For me, with no real ties to the country other than having lived here for a couple of years, it means a day off from work! For Austria, historically speaking, it is a day to celebrate their neutrality, signed in 1955, as well as to be proud of being Austrians. Basically it's like the Fourth of July in Austria, sadly without the fireworks. Instead, the Austrian Bundesheer (something like an army, or National Guard) put on a show for spectators at Heldenplatz (Hero's Square) in which they swear their oath to their country. In the square one can also look at helicopters, tanks, and the like. Additionally, the Austrian Parliament opens their doors for free tours, as well free entrance to the national museums.

Since I already watched out the performance at Heldenplatz last year, I think I'll go look at some dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum.

Below is a picture I took at the event last year. Behind the helicopter one can see the Rathaus and the famous statue of Archduke Charles of Austria.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I'm finally about 98% fully recovered. This last week I was suffering from a terrible sinus infection that left me immobilized in bed the previous weekend. Being the roughin-it American that I am, I went to work every day, despite the doctor's recommendation when I finally made an appointment on Tuesday. In my experience the last two years, Austrians tend to take it easy when they notice the slightest of sniffles coming on. Whenever I would show up at school the last two years with a cold, my Austrian colleagues would tell me to take the day off and come in when I felt better. On the other hand, in the US I'd be popping Dayquill every eight hours to get through a work day.

Sadly I haven't come across any Dayquill or magical all-in-one cold pill here in Austria. I've had to stock up on cold medicine every time I'm vacationing in the US to make sure that I can survive the cold seasons in Austria. I've been told here to take Aspirin-C, which sounds to me like Aspirin with vitamin C-- but they swear by it here.
When I finally got myself in to the doctors, I expected I would have to beg for an antibiotic, as many doctors I have encountered prefer herbal remedies to pills. Surprisingly, the doctor printed out six prescriptions without much fuss, one of them being a much-wanted antibiotic. When I got to the Apotheke (pharmacy), I finally figured out what the other five prescriptions were for: one to fight every cold symptom I had. A nasal spray, a tablet for coughing, an antihistamine laced with a pretty heavy dose of some sleeping aid to help me sleep at night, a nasal gel for night, and a pain killer/fever reducer. Surprisingly, all of that, including my antibiotic, only came to 28 euros, thanks in part to socialized medical care. But the whole time I was thinking, "hasn't Austria ever heard of condensing all of this into something like Dayquill?"

Nonetheless, the antibiotic has done its job, and I was able to finally enjoy a weekend, and a good one at that.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What I've Learned About Kids:

Everything is their tissue: my arm, my sleeve, my hand, and anything and everything that is shared.

A couple of days ago, a child came up to me and wiped her nose on my arm. It was disgusting. And now I'm sick for the second time in about three weeks. I mean, we always try to get the kids to learn to share, but that child took it too far.

Word to the wise: Sharing is caring, but please don't share your germs with me.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dryers: A Rare Luxury

For the first time in over two years, with exception to vacations in the United States, I have warm and fluffy towels and clothing, pulled straight out of a dryer. One of Europe’s minor inconveniences would be the lack of adequate laundry facilities in the home. True, most flats are equipped with a washer, but to find a dryer is to strike gold. The past two years I adapted my laundry habits: small loads (washers tend to be half the size of their American counterparts) and line-drying. However, the washer at my current flat lacks a spin cycle, meaning that once the load has finished, my clothes come out dripping wet, needing to be wrung out and the drying rack placed inside the bathtub to allow the clothing to drip. With this method drying time tends to be a good three days to a week. This evening I just couldn’t take the idea of my still-wet towels starting to smell like mold, so I broke down and took them to the W√§scherei (Laundromat), located right around the corner, to dry. One euro gets me 20 minutes in a rather industrial-sized dryer, for European standards. Ironically, the washers there are about half the size of the dryers. Despite trying to air-dry my clothing for the past two days, I needed two 20 minute cycles to get rid of the dampness.
Doing it this way makes me feel like I’m living in the dorms again dragging my clothing around, leaving for a short time, and hoping that the other customers were kind enough to leave my clothing alone until I returned.

Time to go wring out a load of dresses that just finished in my ancient washer. Sadly the Laundromat will close in the next 20 minutes, and these dresses would need at least 10 euros worth of time...

The Daily Life of a Preschool Assistant

I’ve survived my first month at the preschool. And boy, has the month flown by! If the months continue to fly by as quickly as this past one, it’ll be the end of the year before I even know it.
I’ve finally adjusted to working with young children again. In the beginning I would come home exhausted, only wanting to shut my eyes and turn my mind off. The sound of screaming children outside my window would just perpetuate my throbbing head. But as the weeks went on, my need for sleep decreased, and my tolerance for screaming children increased. The kids in the school are so cute and ever-ready to learn. Of course they can terrorize me, say things to me in broken English like “Are you baby” while pointing to my stomach (NO five year old, my curves and absent six pack does NOT mean I’m gonna have a baby like your mommy has… ugh, 5 year olds. You’re ruining my confidence!), and make my blood pressure rise. But on the other hand, they can surprise me with their sense of humor, their amazing ability to pick up on and speak English, and their adorable little smiles.
Here have been some of my duties:
  • guarding the front door for half hour to 45 minute intervals to make sure that children don’t run out the door onto the street
  • making applesauce from whole apples
  •  singing children’s songs OVER AND OVER
  • getting creative with coloring, cutting and sorting
  •  petting dogs and mice on Pet Day
  •  contributing to their wholesome lunch by putting lunch into the oven promptly at 11am
  •  fighting worldwide obesity by assisting with gym classes; and so on.
All-in-all, I really have enjoyed the past month. My colleagues and I get along very well, and I’m even learning a lot myself.