Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Weekly Interlude 12: A Random Assortment

Lilies and Black-Eyed Susans, painted by me
Last weekend marked my last trip to Langelois with Jennifer and Lillian, and let me just say, we went out with a bang. I finally saw the operetta Wiener Blut, and Jennifer was fantastic! The whole cast was unbelievable, and even though I couldn't understand any of the German dialogue, I still thoroughly enjoyed myself (and laughed along with the people who could understand the language). I'm always so inspired by live performance; to me, singing is as much a visual and kinesthetic art as an aural one.

Wiener Blut, performed outside at a castle
To get to Langelois last weekend, I took a bus with the orchestra and some other audience members in need of rides -- and I bumped into an acquaintance from my semester abroad! This woman was friends with my voice teacher from that semester, and it turns out she's also friends with Jennifer and is the operetta director's wife! Small world. She is a wonderful person and gave me much advice last year on everything from grad schools to how to memorize a part sung entirely on "ah." We sat on the bus together; turns out she's flying to the States in a few days to spend a year teaching at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, so we found ourselves discussing the merits of Diction textbooks and the logistics of Skyping home with such a big time difference.
The most delicious grape juice ever!!

Hopefully not my last Marillen Knödel
This friend also introduced me to another of her friends, who ended up loaning me a blanket during Act II of Wiener Blut. (The show was outside at a castle -- beautiful, but absolutely freezing after a while. My jean jacket, sweater, and scarf were not enough!) I generally tend to isolate myself or avoid interaction with lots of new people, but I actually enjoyed going with the flow that evening. It's amazing the stories you'll hear or the things you'll learn when a friend introduces you to another friend, who then introduces you to the other five people sitting at the table, und so weiter (and so on).
Good-bye Langenlois :(

After the show, I met some of Jennifer's in-laws. They're from the province of Styria and (I think) only speak German, so I sat next to Jennifer, fiddling nervously with the stem of my wine glass, and tried to follow the conversation. And I do believe I was mildly successful! Not that I could contribute anything, but I certainly understood more than I ever have in a German conversation before. And they were so incredibly nice to me, asking if I understood, including me in their stories, asking if I liked the production. This weekend reminded me that, while it's easy to hole up in my apartment and watch Chuck or Gilmore Girls episodes, it doesn't make transitions any easier. It's human contact I need, so it's human contact I'll find!

Peppers from Langelois
This evening, I'm going to a get-together with the DeutschAkademie. We'll meet at 6 p.m. and take a walking tour and finally end up in the 3rd district for drinks and more conversation. So after I finish writing this blog, I'm going to brush up on my German notes (oh yes, apparently I have a test on Friday) and get ready to go! Every day I speak more and more with people from my class, and I get weirdly proud of myself for it. As my aunt says, there's nothing like a language class to meet people. I guess speaking a foreign language is like diving off a diving board: walking up to it, standing on the edge while it bobs up and down, looking into the formidable water below is terrifying. But once you're airborne, once you take the plunge, it's exhilarating, and suddenly, you find yourself climbing back up to do it again.

That is not to say that it's suddenly easy. In fact, German grammar --already spearheaded by bizarre word order, four cases, and separable-prefix verbs -- just became particularly kompliziert. I feel like there's either a zillion ways to say what I want, or there's no way to say it, and I'm forced to find another (awkward) route into the meaning. Sometimes (actually, frequently), just to get my point across, I leave out articles, make up prepositions, and pretty much just blast my way through the sentence using only nouns and hand gestures. I take comfort in the fact that at least my aural and reading comprehension skills are definitely improving...

On a completely different note, the past few days have actually been mildly chilly in Vienna (I guess 70 degrees after 95 for a month straight feels cold). Since I only packed enough clothes for a two-month summer stay, my wardrobe is a little lacking in the warm department. I have to strategically figure out how to get some warmer clothes over here as inexpensively as possible...But for now, I bought some leggings and a hot pink sweatshirt at H&M, which should tide me over for a while. Only, I looked up the weather for the next three days, and it's supposed to get hot again!

Wild West festival in Austria?
Lillian's witch-puppet
Last Thursday was a religious holiday in Austria (Maria Himmelfahrt, not quite sure which one that is), as Austria is an extremely Catholic country. So while everything was closed, I headed over to Perchtoldsdorf to spend the afternoon with Lillian. There was a festival going on in the next town over, so we biked over there (Lillian was my first human passenger!!). Turns out it was a Wild West themed festival... SO RANDOM. There were women in big saloon dresses, men in cowboy hats and fringed leather vests. Free drinks for people dressed as either cowboys or Indians. A band played country music while people danced. It was possibly the most bizarre, out-of-place experience I've had here thus far! Not to mention all the American, British, and Canadian flags on the walls and the banner that said West Point Military Academy. I think Austria is confused...

While this week has been a random assortment of events, there's a possibility that the Great Vienna Plan will become even more refined next week. Stay tuned...

Evening in Perchtoldsdorf

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