Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Countryside Comes to Vienna

A couple of weeks ago, the Rathausplatz in Vienna transformed into a farm. Well, not really, but there sure was a lot of hay on the ground.

Every year in the Spring, Vienna hosts a four-day festival called Steiermarkdorf (Styrian village) in front of the Rathaus.

There's lots of Trachten (lederhosen & dirndl), traditional food from Steiermark, and tons of delicious wine. In addition, there were dance performances like Schuhplatter, accordion music, a cappella singing, and anything that was super Austrian country-side and not at all Viennese.

 And it gave me an excuse to put on my Dirndl for a few hours!

First picnic of the year at Burggarten

Yesterday, April 26th, it was 29 C / 84 F in Vienna. Just as a comparison, April 1st it snowed. Looks like there's no Spring this year, but that's alright, since it's picnic weather!


One of my favorite places in Vienna is Yppenplatz, which is conveniently located in my neighborhood. Yppenplatz is tucked away in the 16th district of Vienna and offers a variety of restaurants, a weekly farmer's market, and plenty of outdoor seating for warm days. It seems that everyone has come out of hibernation after the long and depressing winter and making their way to Yppenplatz. The weather has been unseasonably warm (it appears that we've simply bypassed Spring this year and jumped right into Summer), and it has been nearly impossible to get an outdoor table at one of the many restaurants no matter what time of day it is.

What I love about Yppenplatz is the variety of restaurants ranging from Austrian, to Italian, to Indian, to organic modern kitchen, as well as the diverse crowd that flocks there. Hipsters, students, artists, foreigners, families, yuppies, and the like all seem to find a place together while drinking spritzers or enjoying a weekend brunch.

Another great thing about Yppenplatz is the market that takes place on Saturday mornings. Although the Platz is located at the end of Europe's longest outdoor market, Brunnenmarkt, I prefer to do my shopping on Saturdays at the Yppenmarkt. Farmers and wine producers from around Vienna and Austria bring their local, and often organic, products and sell them at a very fair price.

Today I played the game "how much can I buy with just ____ euros". I came home with three full bags of fresh produce and spent only 15 euros! It would have actually been just nine euros, but I bought a kilo of dried black beans and some spices. I tried to keep track of my purchases, and here is an estimate of what I spent:

two red beets: 80 cents
6 large carrots: 60 cents
half a kilo of spinach: 50 cents
fresh ginger: 1 euro
two tomatoes: 50 cents
one pineapple: 1.50
half a kilo of grapes: 1 euro
five bell peppers: 80 cents
two eggplants: 80 cents
1 kilo dried black beans: 3.20
two packages of spices: 3 euros
four bananas: 80 cents

I'm not sure if that adds up to 15 euros exactly, but that's a rough estimate of what I spent. Another instance where I just might point out:

Austria: 1, USA; 0

Saturday, April 6, 2013


It's official: I have made a decision, a very important decision regarding my future, one that I had been pondering for nearly a year. 

I've decided to study to become a teacher in Austria this fall. That means I'd be studying English and a second subject of my choice, as well as my pedagogy courses.

This was a huge decision that took a lot of time to reach. I made pros and cons lists. I contacted people. I meditated. I discussed. I researched. I grew frustrated at my then-seemingly incapability of making a decision. 

It was already clear within my first year here in Austria as a teaching assistant that teaching languages was my calling. I just never thought that would turn into a desire to stay long(er)-term overseas and pursue a teaching career here-- or at least begin my career here.

I moved here about three and a half years ago on a program that was supposed to last one - two years. As the program came to an end, I knew leaving was not something I wanted to do, and as luck would have it, I was one of the lucky few able to actually get a proper job overseas. Since then, I've created a life for myself in Vienna-- one that I'm not too keen on giving up so soon. I've gained experience in different settings teaching English as a second/foreign language to children, teenagers and adults. I love it, and I'd like to think I'm quite good at it.

So teaching it is. 

After finally admitting to making this decision and sharing it with my friends and family back home, as well as my colleagues and friends here, I feel so relieved and so SUPPORTED. I've been overwhelmed by the positive feedback and comments I've been getting from everyone about this decision. 

And, honestly, that makes me feel like this fits, like this is the road on which I should embark.

This will be my second degree, and I'm ready to be a student again. Student life always suited me well, and I'm excited to hit the books again. What I'm not really looking forward to is the bureaucracy I will face in the coming months as I switch visas and attempt to get credits transferred from my bachelors from the University of Minnesota. I'm also super excited about going to university abroad, as I never had a proper study abroad experience during my undergrad. 

It's exciting times, that's for sure.