Thursday, January 31, 2013

Today's Rendition of Kid Denglisch

Today at school, M. told me while she was looking at a class picture from last year:

I hab him geloved. (In reference to one of my former colleagues).

Another little guy, L., keeps saying: Me maching that! (from the verb "machen" which means "to do")

What's going on here? The kids have started to really mix German and English grammar rules and have created a language of their own, namely, Denglisch.

In German, one adds "ge" in front of regular verbs to indicate that it is in the past tense. When there are two verbs involved in a sentence, the second verb takes the final place in the sentence. Little M. probably also picked up the past tense regular verb "ed" and combined the two. Hence the overgeneralization I hab him geloved.

Little L. still can't tell the difference between "me" and "I" even though I have been correcting him the last two weeks nonstop.

L: Me going auf Toilet. (I'm going to the toilet)
Me: I'M going TO the toilet.
L: Aber was heisst "me"? (What does "me" mean?)
Me: Mich. "I" heisst ich.
L: Achso. Ok, me going To the toilet!
Me: *sigh*

Also, little L. pretty much just adds "ing" to all German verbs when he talks to us.

But you know what, it's awesome, and I am SO impressed that they can work all of that out in their young brains. I have to give them props, as those were the kids who didn't speak A WORD of English four months ago. And now they are starting to communicate. Way to GEH!

The Things I Find at Work

One of the kids at school has a toothpaste-shaped Federpennal* (pencil case) with Obama on it. She's six, and I'm pretty sure she doesn't even know who Obama is. Nevertheless, I love finding random Americanisms in the strangest forms abroad.

*Federpennal is a word that I actually learned while working at the school. I never really saw it written before, and because Austrians tend to pronounce "P" as a "B", I literally wrote Federbennal until I decided to double-check the spelling online. Reminds me of all the times I make I have made Austrians hold a piece of paper pulled taught in front of their mouth and try to make the paper move by aspirating the "P" in English.  It's effective, and it looks hilarious at the same time. Love teaching English.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Right now I'm enjoying the view from my new couch. That's right, I bought furniture. I've managed to live in Austria for nearly four years without ever having to buy furniture, and I finally did it! It was a monumental moment at Ikea yesterday purchasing a sleeper-couch, a coffee table, and a standing lamp. Finally, I have a cozy little Sitzecke in my room perfect for entertaining.

For the past one and a half years, I managed to deal with the giant desk in my room that served no other function than taking away space and a place upon which I could throw my things. Yesterday I did away with the table, or my landlord did, and I've been asking myself why on Earth I didn't think of this sooner. I finally feel like I've made a space for myself, that it's my room.


Now that I've bought furniture I can't help but ask myself if this means that I'll have to stay for a while so I can enjoy it....

Monday, January 21, 2013


Yesterday I experienced adrenalin pur: high-speed sledding down a mountain, aka rodeln. Sledding is not something unfamiliar to me, as I pretty much grew up in the North Pole in terms of snow fall and bone-chilling temperatures. Every year Minnesota gets pounded with snow, although in recent years the snow fall has varied from slight to crazy snow storms (coughglobalwarmingcough). Therefore as a child, I always looked forward to that first snow fall so I could take out my plastic saucer, standing snow skateboard, or intertube out of the garage and head to the biggest "hill" in town. I'd run up the hill, feeling rather on top of the world, get on my saucer and go! Twenty seconds later I was at the bottom of the hill. I'd run up again in a minute or two, sled down, and repeat the process for a good hour or so. 

As a kid, this was definitely enough. Flash forward twenty-some years to a land far, far away from the flat Great Plains, a land where that "hill" would be laughable, something of a street hill in Vienna.

This past week, Vienna received the largest snowfall I have ever seen since I arrived: 30-some cm in one day! That's nearly a foot--an amount that would surely delay school even in the Twin Cities for a couple of hours, if not cancel it altogether. A snow day in Vienna? Unheard of. 

Nevertheless, people young and old were giddy with joy at that considerable snowfall so that the winter activities could finally commence. I, on the other hand, was originally quite apathetic, since I've come to enjoy these dry spells in the winter; it's a nice break from the tough Minnesota winters I endured growing up. And let's not forget my epic fail of "learning" how to ski three years ago on a "baby" mountain in the Alps. 

My friend Lavinia, however, invited me to go rodeln with her this past weekend. I gratefully took her up on her offer, as I do love snowy mountains, although it's usually admiration from afar. We got all suited up, grabbed the traditional wooden sleds, and began our hike up the winter-wonderland of a mountain about 30 minutes south of Vienna. I felt like I was walking through scenes of the children's book "The Mitten" as we walked up the mountain; it was incredible. The hike took a bit longer than normal, as we had to stop and take photos every five or so minutes.

 All in all, it took roughly over an hour to reach the peak of the 1000m mountain. Let me repeat, it took OVER AN HOUR just so we could go sledding! Hiking up the path was almost as dangerous as running into oncoming traffic, as other sledders whizzed down the path at frightening speeds, and most of the kids had absolutely no understanding of space and nearly rammed us off the path on several occasions. 

When we finally got to the top, the sun had set, and we realized we had no headlights or flashlights with. Thankfully the snow almost glows in the forest, but the last stretch was a bit of a guessing game as to where the path was, which made it all the more fun. It took us only about 15 minutes to get to the bottom of the mountain, but it was well worth the hour walk. Collectively, that's probably just as much as I would sled in Minnesota in one day as a child, considering it took seconds to reach the bottom of the hill.

But this was no kids' sledding; I've never sledded so fast in my life, and I'm convinced that rodeln is probably some extreme sport in disguise. But just as Austrians are basically born with skis on their feet, they are also born sliding out on a sled, since they have such control as they gracefully sled down mountains at the speed of sound. I, on the other hand, would have probably crashed into a tree had it not been for the Austrian sitting in front of me and steering. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Coming "Home"

For the second time in just over one week, I can say "Home Sweet Vienna".

The more and more I travel away from here, the more I realize how much Vienna has truly become my zweites Zuhause, or home away from home. At this point, we may as well just call it my home, because that's essentially what it is. And it really feels like it.

Last week I returned to Vienna after spending nearly two weeks in Minnesota for Christmas. My time at home was nice, albeit rather uneventful. I gladly spent time with my friends and family, and I must say, I shopped until I dropped. I did, however, managed to do something fun this year for New Years: Stellas Party Like A Rock Bass. Mostly,. though, I tried to stay warm, as the average temperature was at around 10 F / -12 C. 

When I returned, I had all sorts of fun trying to overcome my jet lag, and like a pro, was able to kick it by day six. That's one day less than the allotted time for seven hours of jet lag (one day for every time zone)!

Because apparently I just couldn't get rid of the travel bug, I headed down to Salzburg this past weekend to visit a couple of friends. I hadn't been to Salzburg in about three years, and I was ready to give the city a second (or fourth?) chance. I must have exhausted my visits to Salzburg when I lived in "nearby" Braunau (60 km), as I never felt the urge to go back to the city of Mozart until a couple friends of mine invited me down for the weekend.

Salzburg greeted me with a huge snow storm, and the city was transformed into an idyllic winter wonderland. The fresh snow atop the trees and castle hill made for a fantastic backdrop from an insider location on the Dachterrasse (roof terrace) at Uni Park. To escape the wet and heavy flurries, I later escaped into cafe Fürst, a must if you are in Salzburg simply to enjoy the best Mozartkugel.

After frolicking through the snow in the Altstadt, I boarded a train and head north to Braunau, the city where I lived from 2009-10. While waiting for a friend, I discovered a fantastic cafe that I wish had existed when I lived there, Cafe Graf. They even have a resident cat there who kept me company as I sipped a wine spritzer and read some newspapers. It was almost like a Viennese cafe, if the dialect and hair styles weren't so ländlich. 

All in all, I have to say I am SO happy to be back in Vienna. As the saying goes, Wien ist anders (Vienna is different). After spending some time in Salzburg and Braunau, this has become completely apparent to me. I suppose I had forgotten what the rest of Austria was like, namely the place where I once lived. I've become so accustomed to Vienna over the last few years as far as language and culture is concerned, that I felt completely fremd (foreign) in Braunau. The weekend was also so exhausting simply because I could understand only 30% without really concentrating, and maybe 50-70% if I gave a lot of effort in concentrating. Tchja. I am completely baffled as to how I managed to get by for 10 months with that dialect. I think if I remember correctly, I could even understand and speak it. Wow. I must have gotten used to it, but have since forgotten how it sounds. Basically it now sounds like one giant "Uff da" (a shout out to my Minnesotans). 

So, when I finally made it back to Vienna, I basically gave the ground a giant Bussi (kiss).