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I've moved to a non-Rotary-related blog. Comment if you would like the link!
My year as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Graz, Austria. Yes, there are other cities in Austria besides Vienna.
A week ago, I was trying to sleep at the Frankfurt airport. Part of me would rather be there than here.
I didn't anticipate coming back to the States being hard; after all, I'd done it before, and back then I had been gone for an entire year. It would be easy peasy: come back, find a job, finish my degrees, move out, etc.
Yeah. This whole "becoming a responsible adult" thing? Sucks. In addition to that, I have to adjust to my Fernweh/Heimweh/whatever you want to call it. I'm still thinking six hours ahead to Austrian time. (This could be why I'm up at 4am.) Yesterday was the first time in a while that I hadn't been to a Rotaract meeting, and I think that was the first concrete realization that I won't be back in Austria for a bit. At 1:30pm I was itching for a Murauer. (Can one have Bierweh?)
How to cope? Currently, reading books by Austrians and listening to Falco. I have exhausted YouTube's collection of Falco videos, which delight me to no end.
Alles klar, Herr Kommissar.
I would say that none of these questions would be asked about Austria, but that's probably just because most Americans think that Austria is a part of Germany.
Here I am, leaving my Alpine locale. Eleven months ago I was retardedly depressed, wanting to get away from here as soon as possible. Now, Eva is on my bed, telling me not to leave, while I stare at my naked walls and realize that is really has been eleven months. Everything looks like it did at the beginning.
Now, I love saying "net" instead of "nicht".
Now, I say "a bissl" instead of "ein bisschen".
It's the little things that do it: friendships, drinks, inside jokes, Uno games, mix CDs, bottles of prosecco, making pancakes together... it doesn't matter what language you do them in: friendship is universal. I'll should stop before this gets too cheesy.
Oh, but I'll continue... I know I was born American, but I feel less and less like one. In the beginning, the girls joked that I was half American and half German. Now, I feel more Austrian than anything else. Maybe half German half Austrian? The question is, where did my American go?
Well, I still jaywalk...
Busy packing and pretending that I'm not leaving, but I saw this and woke up my roommates because I was laughing so hard. How does one explain Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer?
(Thanks to http://xkcd.com/)
Around six-thirty Sunday morning, our doorbell rang. Twenty times. I chalked it up to drunken idiots and buried my head under my pillow, trying to go back to sleep. Then, the door opened and shut, which confused me, but not enough to get me out of my cocoon of blankets and warmth.
Then, the fire alarm went off. I heard the collective groan of my roommates and we staggered about, trying to find clothes to wear. I managed to put on everything I had worn the night before and shuffled to the shoe rack, grabbing the first shoes I could find. (They were blue and pink Sauconys. No, they didn’t match, but I don’t really care at 6:30am.) Poor Chrissi ended up in high-heeled boots and her bathrobe. The head of the dorm burst into our room, screaming at us to get going. Then she looked at me and started translating – for some reason, she had forgotten that I SPEAK GERMAN. I reminded her as such and wrapped my scarf around me in a dignified manner, sweeping past her to the stairwell.
Once outside, we speculated as to what had happened. We smelled smoke when up on our fourth floor, but once we were at the ground level we couldn’t smell it anymore. I thought that the party on the terrace the night before had sparked it all, with some reveler forgetting to put out his cigarette completely. None of us had a clue what was going on.
Cue the flashing blue lights of the fire truck. Then, cue the fire truck blowing past our dorm (I thought taxis not finding my dorm was bad enough) and half a mile up the street. In the crisp morning air we could hear the truck in reverse, backing up and finally noticing the group of students freezing in the winter air.
There were a total of three fire trucks, four police cars, and five ambulances, blue lights ablaze. None of us were very concerned, though, as the fireman seemed to be very relaxed, chilling next to their trucks.
Around 7:15 we were allowed back in. When the five of us got back into our apartment, we all started to gag – it was thick with the smell of burned plastic. Turns out one of the drunken revelers from the party the night before had cooked something around three in the morning and forgot to turn off the stove, ruining the backsplash and shorting the electricity. Adding to the stupidity: the boys had taken the battery out of their fire alarm a year ago. If it had been there, they would have noticed the smoke a lot sooner. The door to their apartment is always open, which usually seems stupid, but in this case was a potential lifesaver, as it allowed the smoke to get into the stairwell and trip the alarm.
The cleaning lady is happy because it’s one less stove for her to clean.
Say hello to Krampus. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about him:
"Often the subject of winter poems and tales, the Companions travel with St. Nicholas or his various equivalents (Father Christmas, Santa Claus), carrying with them a rod (sometimes a stick, bundle of switches or a whip, and in modern times often a broom) and a sack. They are sometimes dressed in black rags, bearing a black face and unruly black hair. In many contemporary portrayals the companions look like dark, sinister, or rustic versions of Nicholas himself, with a similar costume but with a darker color scheme.
Some of the companions take on more monstrous forms. Krampus and Klaubauf are variously depicted as horned, shaggy, bestial, or demonic. In many depictions the Krampus looks like popular images of the Devil, complete with red skin, cloven hooves, and short horns.
In some of the Ruprecht traditions the children would be summoned to the door to perform tricks, such as a dance or singing a song to impress upon Santa and Ruprecht that they were indeed good children. Those who performed badly would be beaten soundly by Servant Ruprecht, and those who performed well were given a gift or some treats. Those who performed badly enough or had committed other misdeeds throughout the year were put into Ruprecht's sack and taken away, variously to Ruprecht’s home in the Black Forest, or to be tossed into a river. In other versions the children must be asleep, and would either awake to find their shoes filled with sweets, coal, or in some cases a stick. Over time, other customs developed: parents giving kids who misbehaved a stick instead of treats and saying that it was a warning from Nikolaus that "unless you improve by Christmas day, Nikolaus' black servant Ruprecht will come and beat you with the stick and you won't get any Christmas gifts." Often there would be variations idiosyncratic to individual families.
In parts of Austria, Krampusse, who local tradition says are (typically children of poor families), roamed the streets and sledding hills during the festival. They wore black rags and masks, dragging chains behind them, and occasionally hurling them towards children in their way. These Krampusumzüge (Krampus runs) still exist, although perhaps less violent than in the past.
Today, Schladming, a town in Styria (my state!), over 1200 "Krampus" gather from all over Austria wearing goat-hair costumes and carved masks (which usually cost about $1400), carrying bundles of sticks used as switches, and swinging cowbells to warn of their approach. They are typically young men in their teens and early twenties and are generally intoxicated. They roam the streets of this typically quiet town and hit people with their switches."
I got hit by a switch and screamed both times, freaking out the kids around me. The Krampusse are really nice to the children, shaking their hands and patting them on their heads, but they enjoy taking unsuspecting American exchange students by surprise and whacking them on the arm/butt. I got hit with a switch twice today.
Apparently they only hit the bad ones.
It was 1pm. I took the turkey out of the fridge and promptly freaked out, placing a call to my mother.
"It will be fine, Kim." She hadn't even said hello. Mother's intuition or something.
"But it's so... gross. Like, it's... I have to reach inside, don't I?"
"Yes, but I promise it's not so bad. You can do it, Kim."
"But what if it's not done? Food poisoning, mom!"
She talked me down and I tried to stare down the turkey, but to no avail. Eventually I threw it in the sink and rinsed it for a good fifteen minutes.
Other items on the menu: macaroni and cheese (for the vegetarians), stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy (Julia tried to talk me out of the potatoes, but Christina, the other American, backed me up. I ask you, can Thanksgiving sans mashed potatoes even exist?), pumpkin roll (which I've been "testing" since it was finished) and Christina's chocolate-pumpkin cake. I keep trying to stress that this is NOTHING compared to the usual fare. We are, however, in Austria, so I suppose I'm luckily I'm even celebrating Thanksgiving at all.
I'm thankful for, among other things, my Gösser Bier. (But I wish I had some Murauer!)