Kim's Austrian Adventure

My year as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Graz, Austria. Yes, there are other cities in Austria besides Vienna.

29. September 2006

No, I'm not staying at any hostels...

  • Reading: Travel Itinerary

  • Listening to: Cansei De Ser Sexy: Off the Hook

  • German Word of the Day: die Pensionistin

  • Translation: female retirees

  • Example: Heute haben drei Pensionistin mich freiwillig angesprochen./Today three retirees randomly talked to me.

Apparently it's "Retirees talk to Kim" Friday, because while waiting for the bus/tram three seperate times, random Pensionistin talked to me. I had a conversation with the one I understood (even within the states of Austria, the accents can greatly vary). She was wearing the most awesome purple sunglasses, sassy shoes, and lipstick, and she thought I was Scandinavian. This confused me, as I am not tall, thin or blonde. Usually people assume I'm Dutch or Belgian (Belgian? Honestly?). It may sound bad, but as long as they don't assume I'm American, I'm happy.

In other news, I am heading to Vienna/Prague/Budapest with Powen, a friend of mine from my first exchange year, on Sunday. It's been a while since I've been in a country where I don't speak the language. Should be interesting. Also, I hear Budapest has some fantastic shopping opportunities...

Fantastic photos to follow. Luckily, Powen is just as camera-happy as I am.



26. September 2006

Cows and Paris Hilton. Full circle.

  • Reading: Wladimer Kaminer Russendisko Info

  • Listening to: Lily Allen: Alright Still: Friday Nigth

  • German Word of the Day: die Intressengruppe

  • Translation: lobby

  • Example: Wegen der Intressegruppe heisst es Soja-Drink, nicht Soja-Milch./Because of the lobby, it's called "Soy Drink", not "Soy Milk."

When living in Austria, I don't really drink much milk, except in my tea, and I'm partial to soy milk, vanilla in particular. I had a tough time finding it the first few weeks I was here, and Ada explained to me that it's called Soy Drink instead of Soy Milk because the farmer lobby doesn't want anything taking away from their milk sales.

Can't you just picture a bunch of farmers with their cows on the steps of parliament?

In other news, I've been asked why I'm not at Oktoberfest. I have one answer:

She has besmirched the dirndl. I am upset.

21. September 2006


  • Reading: To Do List

  • Listening to: Of Montreal: I was never young

  • German Word of the Day: Heimkehr

  • Translation: homecoming

  • Example: Meine Heimkehr war eigentlich sehr angehehm./My homecoming was actually very enjoyable.

After some tears while hugging my mom and Matt, I headed to the checkpoint, secretly hoping to go through the air-blowing machine. Alas, it was not meant to be. I still got to take off my Birkenstocks and walk barefoot across the airport, though, so that’s cool.

Yes, that’s right – I was not dressed up in my usual Business Casual/Woman of the World attire. My heels, along my most of my (very cute!) flats were in my (very cute!) houndstooth bag. I was clad in black yoga pants, a black cardigan (the other five packed in my luggage. I have a serious problem.) and a gray tank top. No skirt!

While trying to get through the checkpoint, I was stopped and my bag was searched. As per usual, it contained no less than four types of lip-gloss. (You know those new rules about carry-on stuff – no liquids, gels, etc.) Luckily, the attendant only found the one gloss in my makeup bag, because if you thought terrorists were mean, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen me deprived of my Burt’s Bees.

I sat at my gate to fly back to Jersey. [Oh. Jersey. (I can tell I’m going to be abusing parentheses in this entry.)] An hour before takeoff, I tried to take Dramamine. Due to the aforementioned rules, my ever-present water bottle was absent. I tried to use spit.

Don’t do that.

I almost got it down, but it got stuck, turned to half-mush, and made me feel like I had licked deodorant.

I don’t drink much soda, preferring espresso or sugar free Redbull, but unfortunately neither of those was on tap. My favorite soda is Dr. Pepper.

Nope. Out.


Nope. Out.

Fruit punch?

Nope. Out.

Biting my tongue, preventing me from lurching the counter and demanding to know why they were advertising all of the drinks if they were all out, I asked for a mix of diet and regular Coke. (Regrettably, Coke Blak *drool* isn’t on tap either.)

The deodorant pain removed from my mouth, I discarded my over-priced, under-consumed soda and boarded the smallest plane I’ve ever been on. They call it “Express Jet”; I call it “Aluminum Tube of Death”. It’s a matter of semantics. Three seats across, 60 people tops. There are smaller, but I have yet to, and hopefully will never have to, fly them.

I sit down and start reading Flare (cool Canadian mag), watching everyone board the plane. An… interesting guy sits behind me – he looked kind of lawyer/hippie/Buddhist, if that makes sense. He decided to keep his phone on while we were taxiing down the runway, but he turned it off right before we took off. He must have sensed my desire to punch him in the face.

After what happened next, I wanted him to get back on his phone.

He chanted. Loudly. Now, I’m all for religious choice. Rock on, do what you want, but DON’T ANNOY ME WITH IT, especially when I’m trying my best to convince the plane not to crash. He chanted during the takeoff and the landing, which felt like forever. I do have to thank him, though, because he annoyed me so much that I forgot how terrified I am of flying. Before we were supposed to turn on our phones, he was on his, playing Mr. “Look-At-Me-I-Am-So-Important-I-Have-A-Cell-Phone”. Look, guy, we’ve all had phones for about five years. Give it a rest.

We landed in Jersey, I had my ceremonial Last Starbucks, and then I sat and stared out the window at the turnpike while listening to Lily Allen on repeat. Before I knew it, we were boarding a (considerably larger) plane and we were off. I had an empty seat next to me, which allowed me to doze for about two hours between watching three episodes of House and three of CSI: Miami. It seems that there’s always an empty seat next to me, be it on a plane, at a restaurant, or at the opera, so I’ve come to call it the Matt Seat, because it’s where my boyfriend would be if he were here.

Ok, I’m done being sappy. Stop rolling your eyes in disgust.

When I landed in Frankfurt, I turned on my phone, which the wonderful Cingular associate had assured me would work in Europe. Wrong. So I went to a phone, called the usual suspects, helped random Americans who couldn’t figure out how to buy train tickets, and was off to the train, where I spent another 10 hours trying to get to Graz. My train to Selzthal, which has nothing going for it except for the fact that practically every train in Austria goes through it, was delayed for 20 minutes. As soon as we stopped, four Austrian men stuck their heads out of their respective windows, simultaneously offering advice and chatting on their cell phones. Not wanting to look suspicious for not telling anyone what to do, I stuck my head out of my window and stared at the cows in the pasture. When one burped at me, I decided to sit back down. Luckily, the train from Selzthal to Graz was 30 minutes late, so all of us got back on time.

I finally got here around 10:30 last night and was up until 2am. I didn’t spend of that time putting things away as much as chatting with Matt and Eva and drinking way too much tea.

It doesn’t feel strange to be back. I think it’s going on my list of “Homes.”

4. September 2006

Take me out to the ballgame

  • Reading: Blogger info

  • Listening to: Arrested Development season 3

  • German Word of the Day: die Überraschung

  • Translation: surprise

  • Example: Mein Freund hat mich mit Detroit Tigers Baseball Karten Überrascht./ My boyfriend surprised me with tickets to the Tigers game.

I still exist and I'm still at home. For proof, check the flickr page, including subpar pics from today's ballgame.