Prague

As I mentioned, I was in Prague last weekend. Two other teaching assistants came along and we met up with my friends from CLU, Jesse and Mayan, who are studying abroad there.  I sure many of you know that in the past I have despised Prague, but I went with an open mind and had an excellent time. Jesse and Mayan were excellent tour guides and it didn’t hurt that the weather was amazing.

So, my faith in Prague has been restored. The weekend was spent sightseeing, eating some very hearty Czech food (as well as a few fried cheese sandwiches) and dancing at an 80s and 90s club. One of the more interesting sites was the Kafka Museum.  Although I was relatively unfamiliar with Kafka’s works, I still found the museum..interesting. I suppose to fans of Kafka it would be “Kafkaesque”.  It was a little eerie at times, but definitely worthwhile and Kafka is now next on my reading list. 

Another memorable site was the bell tower at Prague’s castle.  For some reason I was unaware that we were about to climb approximately 300 stairs.  I was not prepared!  I survived a near asthma attack and the view was amazing. Literally breathtaking! 

I returned to Prague on Monday. That evening a group of friends and I celebrated “World Noodle Day” by having a pasta party. It was a great way to end my long weekend. Now I’m preparing to head back to Vienna for my second five day weekend in a row.  Thank you, Catholic holidays!

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Oktoberfest!

Location: Eggenberg, Austria (Okay, actually Prague, Czech Republic, but that’s not what this post is about.)

I thought it was time for a stereotypical post.  Last weekend, the former teaching assistant, Chris, came to Horn to visit. He showed me around town some more and was  nice enough to let me tag along to a few parties.  Friday night we attended a “Warehouse Party” which was literally a party in a beer warehouse. The party was more like a club located in a large barn and came complete with several obscenely drunk teenagers-the drinking age in Austria is 16 for beer and wine and 18 for liquor.  Although interesting, it wasn’t exactly my style so I was more than skeptical when I was told that Oktoberfest the next evening would be held in the same location.  However, the prospect of making friends was appealing so I went along and was happy to find that Oktoberfest was completely different.  Instead of loud techno/house music, there was a live band in front playing traditional Austrian music. And rather than drunk teenagers everywhere, there were drunk adults.  To my delight many were wearing leder hosen and drindls.  I hesitantly ordered a pretzel and a “Bier maß” meaning “beer more” which is a very stereotypical liter mug of beer.  I enjoyed my pretzel and beer, listened to the band and also participated in a “train” of people around the warehouse.  After the band quit playing, the DJ played more traditional Austrian songs to which everyone stood on the tables and sang along enthusiastically.  What a great Austrian night.  Unfortunately, I don’t have my pictures here to post today, but when I get back from Prague I’ll post an Oktoberfest album.

The Real World, Hot Water, and the YMCA

Location: Yep, still Horn, Austria

Well I guess my “real world” is a little unusual, but it’s hitting me pretty hard right now.  Living by myself in a town where I can barely understand people is difficult, not to mention with the added stress of being away from my family and friends. 

Anyway, I’ve been able to explore my town a little more.  Tonight I went on a walk while the sun was setting.  It deepened my appreciation for Horn and also made me excited to tackle the Wald Viertle (surrounding forest).  Since I’ve decided to stay in Horn this weekend and clear my mind I should have plenty of time over the next few days.  Part of my walk took me through a near by neighborhood.  The houses here are adorable!  All are painted with bright blues, yellows or greens and have flowers on the windowsills as well as the garden.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take my camera with me tonight, but I’ll try to get some pictures of them later.

I have also been able to improve my German this week.  Actually, I’ve been given several opportunities.  The hot water quit working at my apartment.  (I can’t imagine this happening in the U.S., but this seems to be a common occurrence among Americans living here…) So that made for:

Opportunity #1: I got the opportunity to speak to my landlord on the phone (difficult) as well as in person (less difficult) about the lack of water and a broken shower thing (not sure of the English word).  Two and a half days later and the hot water is back.  This may not seem like a big deal, but trust me there are many things you need hot water for, not just showers. Opportunity #2: Awkward mini-party at one of my schools (with champagne?!) whereI felt I needed to talk to someone.  So, I struck up a German conversation with the French teacher, who also speaks English. I struggled through it with no major mishaps. No, I did not have any champagne. Opportunity #3: My doorbell rang the other day and no one else answered (there are three other middle aged men living in the same house as me-like the YMCA! plus Ali).  I went to the door to discover two construction workers .  After about 5 min of me apologizing for my horrendous German/my lack of ability to understand their thick dialect, I realized they wanted to look at a room.  After all what YMCA is complete without a construction worker?  Of course, I didn’t let them in and I think I told them to contact the landlord via email.  

Well, I guess I’ll go cook myself dinner and watch some German NCIS.  Exciting evening at the YMCA, I know. 

Home?

Location: Horn, Austria

http://tiny.cc/f99vd

Well, I’ve finally arrived in the town of Horn and it’s pretty much how I imagined it to be.  Horn seems to be an average small town in Austria.  There is a lot of farm land surrounding the area and I’m near the “Wald Viertel”, literally meaning “Forest Quarter”.  I’ve heard there is some decent hiking in the area, but the weather has been gray and miserable since I arrived.  I can’t understand people here very well, which is frustrating, but I think means my German is going to improve very quickly. My housing set up is odd to say the least.  I share a bathroom and a kitchen with a man who appears to be in his mid to late 30s.  More on my “house” later.

I had my first day of teaching today.  I’m just introducing myself for now.  The kids aren’t talking much, but seem to think I’m funny. Or maybe they just think I’m strange.  I’ll guess I’ll find out soon enough.