Author: Ale /

Well I made it to Vienna! I can't believe I'm going to be living here for the next few months. It's a beautiful city that has a lot of ins and outs. We got here on Tuesday morning after three flights and two layovers. I'm not going to go into detail about those but it was torture to say the least. The first thing we did when we got here was go to a hotel and sleep. The first thing they told us NOT to do here was sleep and we realized later why. I was wide awake at 4 a.m. the next morning and was exhausted the rest of the day. It took me a few days but I think I finally adjusted to the schedule.
We attending the Austro-American Institute for school and the building is right across the street from the Vienna Opera house.

It’s pretty amazing go to school here. I’m taking photography and our first class consisted of going to the Nachtmarkt or the open air market near to our school and taking pictures. English is also pretty fun and I spend a lot of time writing in a journal. And then there was German class. It was fun for about a split second and then our professor opened her mouth and I was depressed to the point of distraction. I rushed to write everything down but she talked so fast that at a certain point I couldn’t tell the difference between the German and her English explanations. I can only imagine what she thought when she saw out blank stares and horrid attempts to pronounce her native language. I assume she gets those kinds of looks a lot. I have German two hours per day. TWO HOURS PER DAY! It will probably kill me. I spent three years in high school Spanish and I can only count to ten and I have three months to be speaking this language. Everyone says that it gets better and it’s easier when you are immersed in the language…but I think those people forget the feeling you get when you are completely lost on a subway and the only thing that could tell you were you are is spewing out German phrases and numbers so fast the natives probably can’t even understand it.

This brings me to the transportation system. Jessica and I take a bus and a tram to get to school. In Vienna they have buses, trams and the subway system to get around. It’s a very efficient, but it’s also completely foreign to me in two ways. First, it’s all in German. I don’t think I can stress enough how baffling this is. Second, I’ve never taken public transportation in America in my life. I might have been on a bus once, but if I hadn’t been with someone I would have probably gotten lost. I can never tell which way to get on. Most people think "it's easy either north or south maybe even east or west." False. Not in Vienna. You have to know which stop is the last stop and get on according to that...and then of course everything is in German and sometimes you are on the subway or it's dark and you have no way of telling what is around you. So yes. I have gotten lost multiple times just in the 6 days I've been here.

So the combination of not understanding the system in general and the language that explains the system has given me a little trouble. On our first morning we walked to the bus stop and got on. Elizabeth (our host mom) showed us where to get on and gave us the rest or the directions on a piece of paper. She didn’t write down any of the street names though and when asked, she said simply “get off at the opera house” that is find well and good for someone who knows that opera house, but at that point I’d seen the building only once in my life so the thought of getting off there made me nervous. It was a miracle we got off at the right stop for the tram and even more of a miracle that we got on the tram going in the right direction. We rode on the tram and looked around for the Opera house but riding the bus for that long in a strange city makes everything start to look the same and we had no idea where to get off. I felt kind of stupid for not knowing the opera house because I had seen the thing the day before but I wasn’t recognizing anything. After a few more stops two ladies got on and sat down behind us. Amazingly enough, they were speaking English. At the next stop we heard them say in a lovely English accent “oh yes, there’s the opera house yes, yes.” There was a split second when Jessica and I looked at each other when we realized that was our stop and said “RUN!” We jumped out before it closed and made it safely to class, but we would have never made it without the kind ladies socializing behind us and mentioning the massive building we missed. Vienna has 23 districts. We live in the 18th which is a very green area with lots of trees. The opera house and pretty much everything else is in the 1st district of the inner ring. Our trip takes about 30 minutes to get there.

(Jenny, Jessica and Me)

Jessica and I live with our host mother Elizabeth. She is one of the nicest people I know. She is divorced and has two grown sons. Our apartment is something like a Provo apartment but much cleaner and the bathrooms are interesting.

The toilet is not in the same room as the sink and shower. They call the toilet room a water closet and I have no idea what the other part (with the sink and shower) is called. The water closet is about 2 feet wide by 3 feet wide and the toilet flushes forward. I’ll let you imagine how weird that is. Elizabeth has a partnership. It took us a while to figure out this means she has a boyfriend. Apparently the word for boyfriend and friend are the same in German so they use the word partnership to explain. (Don’t blame me if the German facts are wrong- I still know almost nothing). She talks to him every night on the phone after ten and sees him on the weekend. In fact she hasn’t been home at all this weekend and it’s pretty cute. The first thing she did when we met was take us shopping for food and bought us tons of food she thought we should try. She is always trying to make us comfortable (that includes leaving us notes in the morning and leaving us coats to wear if it’s going to be cold). She also has wireless internet (something everyone else in our group literally lusts for). The only problem with our host experience is also a blessing as well.

She just keeps feeding us! The first night we came she made us a meal of soup and bread and told us to eat it while she went to a meeting. It was filling and pretty good even though it was carrot soup (I'm not a veggie person). When she came home she made us another meal of sausages and cooked cucumbers and potatoes and I thought I was going to explode. She thinks we “eat like birds” and keeps putting more on our plates. The next night we had leftovers and a whole other meal consisting of sausages and potatoes in a different kind of sauce. It all tastes good but at a certain point I thought I was going to throw up. Even when we say we are full she smiles and puts more food on our plates saying we “look hungry.” It takes a lot of will power to get though a meal. Luckily, the other night Elizabeth had to answer her handy (cell phone) a few times during dinner in another room. The first time she left Jessica took more soup because we knew the moment she returned we would be force fed the rest of it anyway. The second time she left Jessica repaid me in kind and made me eat the rest of her sausage. Eventually we got desperate and had to put some of our cooked cucumbers back in the pot and move it around the bottom so out plates looked emptier and the pan not full enough to offer us more. Later she questioned why we hadn’t eaten the coffee cake in the kitchen she wanted us to eat. She is so sweet and kind it is hard to refuse her so we have taken to packing lunches to school so we don’t leave much at home and she feels like we are eating enough.

Friday was fun and we ended up going to Iron Man 2 in the International Cinema. I would just like to point out that I got directions in German and somehow was able to lead our little band of Americans to the theatre. We called it our “American Night” and it felt good to be around a lot of English speakers and watch a movie. We spent Saturday at the Nachtmarkt again.

On Saturdays there is a flea market there as well and we shopped around before we went to a food festival.

After that we walked around the city and got lost on the grounds of the imperial palace and the rest of the first district. We also found the LDS institute building and we will probably try and go there next week.

Well I’ve written a book. I have to put pictures on here for my photography class so understand that if some of the pictures don't make a lot of sense or if they don't have a lot of explanation. I’m signing off for now and I promise to keep updating this blog so no one thinks I’ve fallen off the face of the earth!


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