Thursday, November 21, 2013

Avoiding Cold Feet

I just realized that the first thing I do when I enter my apartment is go put on my Hausschuhe (slippers). I used to find it really strange that everyone constantly wore slippers around the house and even offered slippers to their guests. Students in schools are required to wear them. I was even asked to bring a pair during my orientation week in an Austrian youth hostel four years ago. (I, of course, did not bring any, and I think maybe just a few out of the hundred TAs actually brought them.)

But today I just became aware of my post-arrival tradition of locating where my Hausschuhe are. The other day I even asked my friend if he had some extra Hausschuhe laying around.

I'm slowly forgetting what it's like to have warm carpet everywhere. I guess my feet have just become too cold in the winter on these hardwood floors and need the warmth and comfort of a nice five euro pair of slippers.

That being said, I should mention that my Hausschuhe are super fluffy and soft while the standard pair of Hausschuhe here are Birkenstock-like sandals. That's right; Austrians wear Birkenstocks as slippers, not as summer sandals as I have seen on many occasions in the United States. 

I admit to the fact of being a Hausschuhe fan, but I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to spend fifty euros on a pair of indoor sandals. I also will never bring mine with me.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Studying in Austria versus America Part 2: Libraries

A step-by-step guide to using a Viennese university library:

  1. Figure out which library you need. While there is a central Hauptbibliothek at the Uni, most of the resources you will need will be located in each department's own library. Use the online catalog to figure out where the book is located and set off to find it. This may require checking out several libraries, which aren't always located within the same building, so be prepared to use that metro pass or your legs.
  2. Go to the front desk at the library and get yourself a key for the Garderobe because every library has a Garderobepflicht (meaning it's required to lock up your possessions). What's that you may ask? Well, a Garderobe is like a coat check, or in this case, it's a locker room. A locker room? Is this a gym or a library?
  3. Lock up your possessions: coat, umbrella, backpack-- anything that could potentially cause damage to the library facilities and/or allow you to sneak your favorite copy of that super old historic book out of the library.
  4. If you're going to study, make sure you take all necessary materials with you before you lock up the rest. It's a pain to realize you had left your highlighter/pen/notebook in your locker after having reached the Lesesaal (reading room). Don't forget your cell phone so you can take necessary study SMS/Whatsapp/Facebook breaks. Your high-quality paper student ID should also be brought with, in case you do decide to check out any books. And most importantly, take that key with you! If you're smart, you made sure you wear something with lots of pockets to shove everything in. 
  5. With everything in hand (or pockets), head to a Lesesaal for studying. Good luck staying focused in one of the old, open reading rooms if you come from a younger country like the US, as it seems like you could be studying in a closed-off section of a museum or archive.
  6. Now, let's say you're at the library to check out a book. Did you check to see if you can actually access that book yourself? Is it older than 100 years old? Chances are, you can't check it out. Is it listed in the Magazin? Then you can't actually go and get that book yourself; you have to request it online and pick it up. Does your book not meet those requirements? Good! Go and pick out the book yourself. 
  7. Alright, got the book you want? Take your ID to the desk and check it out. Don't think about smuggling it out (as if you could, because your pockets are stuffed and your bag and coat are locked up), because in addition to the Garderobepflicht, there are of course metal detectors.
  8. Once you've finished using the library for whatever reason, grab your key and head back to the locker room, I mean Garderobe. Gather your belongings and make sure to deposit your key in the drop-box on your way out the door.
Happy reading!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween 2013 in Vienna: Helping lost people find their way-- Google Maps. The streets aren't accurate representations, just well-known Viennese streets.