Monday, September 22, 2008

What you may not know...

is that in Vienna, the toilet (aka the WC-the wash closet) and the bathroom are two separate rooms. You go to shower, get undressed, start the water, then have to turn off the water, get dressed again and run across the apartment to go pee because you forgot. Also, washing your hands is interesting. At home, it's no big deal, we just go to the kitchen or the bathroom to wash our hands, but sometimes in public places, they don't have soap. At school, a couple of the bathrooms don't have sinks so you have to wait for someone else in the other bathroom to finish so you can wash your hands....we've gotten used to carrying purell.

Also, Europeans are still catching up on the smelling good thing. You see, most Americans say they don't really like their deoderant. We're pretty sure some of the old people don't wear deoderant. Marinda and I think the main reason, is they don't shower right. Europeans are all about saving water/energy (which I agree with) We think they control this is by making showering very uncomfortable so they don't shower as often and not as long. All of the showers are very narrow. Ours is really narrow and the curtain doesn't even cover half of the shower so you're constantly worried about splashing water out. Also, if say you take a 10 minute shower because you have to shave your legs, you run out of hot water. My family will be happy to know...drum roll please...I take about a 5 minute shower every other day! You know, I'll probably go back to my longer showers when I come home, especially when my hair grows back (if it ever will) Luckily it's cold so everyone is bundled up and they don't smell as bad.

They also save engery with laundry. Most places don't have dryers. THat means you have to plan your laundry accordingly. Jeans take about 2 days to dry. ALso, we can barely move in our room when the drying racks are up.

Another interesting thing...they boil their whites. We thought that was funny. We'll have very clean underwear!

Oh, they also have smaller fridges. you buy fresh food every or every other day. Ours isn't that small, but considering we have 4 adults and 2 kids, it's smaller than we'd have in the states. It's a bad picture but you can kinda see it.

A few others...most places don't have elevators, just stairs. My friend walks about 150 steps to get up to her 6th floor apartment. Our apartment is over 100 years old and has orignal wood floors(that squeak!) We have a weird courtyard thing in the middle of our apartment. don't sit anywhere where people will walk such as sidewalks or hallways and you never put your feet where they don't belong, they only belong on the floor. They think ice is unhealthy. Also walking on cold floors without shoes. They think americans have horrible table manners(which they do) and yeah, in general, they are always very proper. They are a funny people.

Umm, these are just some. We've been embracing the differences and there are many things here that we like more than the states. I hope my roomate doesn't mind that I'm sharing her drying underwear with cyberspace. Meh, it's okay.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Our fun day at the Burggarten

We pass by this everyday on the Strassenbahn. We finally went in to see it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Where I live.

If you look closely above, our window is the open one. We also have flower boxes in all our windows. The apartment goes to the left from our window and wraps around the corner. It's a pretty big apartment.

This is across the street. It has the military and police in it.

Our entrance is under the Bar sign

The entrance to the apartment

My Roomate Marinda!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The first week

Wow, so much has happened in the past few days and I haven’t had any time. I’m looking forward slightly for the normal routine to kick in because I am exhausted.

On Wednesday night we moved into our host family’s apartment. Alex and her son came to pick us up. I am so happy she was so determined to fit all our bags and all of us into her tiny European car. It was cramped but we made it. Her apartment is on the 3rd floor and like most places here, does not have an elevator. They’re actually in the middle of putting one in right now. After Marinda and I struggled to get our heavy bags up most of the way, the nice elevator-worker-guys came to the rescue and had our suitcases up in no time.

This is the sign that greeted us on the door to our room.

We unpacked a bit and then took a walk with Alex, Issak and Cyra(the dog). We went to pick up her daughter, Marie-Louis and then went grocery shopping for dinner. Dinner was good….very Austrian: Bread, Meats, Cheese, Tomatoes. I found in the following days that that is pretty much the day-to-day food here, no matter the meal and there are lots of places to get it. Our host family is great. Alex served a mission in Temple Square so she is fluent in English. Actually, she speaks English all the time, whether it’s with us or teaching her kids. It’s maybe not so good for us. We’re trying to break that habit before it’s too late. There is another student here from Utah. She is not with our program, she just always wanted to go abroad and now she is taking German classes at a school here. She’s been here 2 weeks and doesn’t speak any German. She’s really nice, but we’re worried that we are going to be speaking too much English.

Thursday was the first day of classes. We just had our cultural class with Prof. Brewer and then we had German. Our German class is combined with 201. We have different work and the lessons plans are switching the levels every other day. Thursday was a 201 day and it was a bit boring but a really good review.

After school, Marinda and I came back and hung out with our host mom. She is so nice and has become a good friend. Then we got to meet her Dad, who speaks more German to us, so we like when he is around. Then Marinda and I decided to go get eis from Schweden Platz. Oh man was it good! We’ll definitely be going back.

We saw these awesome street performers infront of the ice cream shop.

Then we decided to wander around. We found our way to Stephansdom and we didn’t even use a map and we didn’t get lost! We had a lot of fun exploring the city.


Friday morning we got up super early to meet our group to go to Bratislava. If you didn’t know, Bratislava is about an hour away from Vienna by train and is the capitol of Slovakia. We a tour guide named Ivanna and she showed us all around the Oldtown of Bratislava and we got to learn all about its history and legends. Bratislava is unique. It’s very old, and you can see it. Some of the buildings didn’t look very well kept and then others you can tell had been refinished. I loved learning about the buildings and the old city called Perbern. While I loved the city, I think my favorite part was hearing Ivanna’s feelings on the way the US and other countries treat Slovaks. She has lived through socialism and communism and the way the US screens her if she wishes to get a visa reminds her of how she was treated during that time. She doesn’t understand why people are so afraid of her. It was an eye opening experience for all of us students.

Marinda and I at St. Michaels Gate in Bratislava

Even though we aren’t speaking all that much German at home, I know my German is getting somewhat better. On our trip to Bratislava, I was with a lot of students who were trying to speak all German. There are certain phrases that just naturally come out in German. I even almost started writing this auf Deustch!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Getting There

I am in Vienna!!! So, I'm sure you all don't want to hear about my long hours of sitting in a plane, but as usual, I have fun(detailed) stories to tell.

I'm pretty sure that yesterday morning was the first time in quite a while that I have woken up before sunrise. We got to the airport in plenty of time and said goodbye to Utah (I flew with my friend Marinda, who lives in Salt Lake. She will be my roomate in Vienna) We had loads of time before our flight took off. We checked our bags and I was relieved my suitcases weighed in at 48 lbs and 46 lbs. I really did try to pack light. I even left a few things at Marinda's house to lighten the load. Anyway, check-in, blah, blah, blah. We meet up with other girls from our program and all sit with anticipation/dread for the day ahead of us.

On the plane, I had the window seat and Marinda had the aisle. The middle seat was taken by a woman who sounded Australian. We never really talked, but she was definately a cool lady. Us 3 girls shared a few laughs and giggles at the things we heard and saw around us, such as the lady who was given bag from the overhead compartment because the attendant needed the room (and because it fit under her seat) but then as soon as the attendant turned around, hopped right up and put it back.

Really, this first flight could not have gone any smoother. You see, it was intended as an international flight. We were getting off in New York, but the plane was continuing on to Barcelona. That meant that movies were free! And because I had remembered my ipod, I didn't have to pay $2 for ear phones. Delta airlines was great, made it really simple, but the real reason I liked them was that I got to pick my own personal movie on the screen infront of me. Like, I got to scroll through a bunch of new releases and pick. I watched Made of Honor (typical chick flick that even I could write) and Leatherheads (well, I slept through most of it). Then the flight was shorter than expected and we landed 10 minutes early :) It was great!

Then we got a little confused in the JFK airport. A nice guy that worked for Delta saw us struggling and gave us great directions and even walked us through most of the way. The whole cause of the confusion: Terminal 1 was not on the map. Yes, thank you JFK airport for giving us platform 9 3/4! We were supposed to know that we needed to board the airtrain at the 2/3 platform (the platform between terminal 2 and 3) and then take it to the terminal that on your map, does not exist. Anyway, we got there, got in the wrong line, accidentally cut a woman in line (I hate being rude to others) and then had only 40 minutes to get through security and find the gate.

Well, I lead us in the security line. I hand the guy my ticket and the envelope with my itinerarymy stuck in my passport. He hands me back the envelope and jokingly says, "I don't want yo' money." Haha, we both laugh and I reply, "Well, if it gets me through any faster." He laughs, and we all get past him and are now waiting in this rediculously long security line. Well, then my jokester friend steps in and opens up another line for us, giving us "the VIP treatment," as he put it. Unfortunately, he didn't know that all the pilots and attendants were going to come cut us in line because they have priority. I stood and waited and waited and waited and the line never got shorter. Then a French pilot (who was very handsome) smiles at me and told me sorry. He wanted to help us, but he really didn't know what to do. Finally the security guard let us go through because he had watched us stand and wait patiently. I ended up running into that French pilot again. He was happy we made it through.

Well, the the next 8 hours weren't that exciting. It involved sitting uncomfortably and trying to sleep. We finally got to Vienna. The whole first day was just a big blur because I was a walking zombie. We sat in the airport for a long time waiting for everyone. We hung out at a hotel and then we went to an awesome italian restaurant for pizza. I got the regolo. It had Tomatensauce, Mozzerella, Knoblauch(garlic), Oregano, und spinat(spinach). It was SO good, but I had horrible garlic breath for the rest of the night.

At the Restaurant

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Vienna: A Haiku

Tomorrow morning
I jet off to Vienna
I am excited