Thursday, August 29, 2013

Weekly Interlude 13: Scrambled Eggs and Other Firsts

Wiener Staatsoper, State Opera House
I find it fitting that the same week Ithaca College (my alma mater, whoa) began classes again, I had my first job interview and completed my German course. It doesn't feel like my friends back home are going back to school; how can it be that after about 17 years of school, I can suddenly feel so removed from it? This week is just another week, albeit a rather eventful one: I made scrambled eggs for the first time in my life only two days ago!

But perhaps most important, as a recent college grad: The Job Interview. This was for a part-time job as a teacher at Musical Munchkins, a music school for kids ages five months to seven years. Honestly, I didn't think the interview went very well on Monday; it was only 20 minutes, and I didn't get to use any of my zinger sentences, to explain my philosophy on music education, or to discuss my (thoughtfully crafted) Strengths and Weaknesses. It felt more like a business meeting than anything (which in a way, I suppose it was), and I left feeling a little down. I then spent all week formulating Job Plan B, until today, when I got back to the apartment and discovered I was asked back for a SECOND INTERVIEW! That will take place tomorrow, and then who knows what the next year could look like? Here's to the randomness of life :)

Russian WWII memorial in 1st district
Graduation Part II: Today I finished my 4-week intensive German course. On one hand, this means I won't have to wake up at 7:30 a.m. anymore, but on the other hand, I now have to fill my mornings with activities to distract me (hello, Practicing!). After taking this class, though, I feel so much more confident about my abilities to speak German. I mean, I still need to work on expanding my vocab, but that will come. If anyone would like to visit me in Austria, I'll be able to order you coffee, help you shop, buy you museum tickets, and even translate some conversations with friends for you.

A beach in Vienna?
Last week, I joined classmates from the DeutschAkademie on a Spaziergang, an hour-long walk around the first district, before meeting for drinks (by the fake beach along the Danube Canal...this land-locked country certainly has solutions!). That evening, I ended up speaking solely in German for four hours! That's a lot of Deutsch. My brain was just about fizzing over by the time I left, but the whole evening was so much fun. I felt like I was talking and communicating with people my own age for the first time since I left in June. It's also pretty cool to meet people from all over the world -- there were people from Kazakhstan, Brazil, Ukraine, Spain, etc.

Vienna pretends it has a beach...
That Spaziergang marked a turning point for me in terms of my German speaking skills and confidence. It proved to me that I could actually hold long conversations in German, that I could communicate. I can speak this language, and people will often know what I mean! Since that evening, I've conversed more in German than I ever have; I even went to a museum and out for drinks with some classmates. Tonight, to celebrate our "graduation," many of us are going to a heuriger (wine tavern) in Grinzing, a region just outside the Vienna border, near the Vienna Woods, known for these taverns. I hope to keep up with many of these new friends, especially the ones staying in Vienna. This was the most international group I'd ever spent time with, and they were fascinating and fun! I mean, at first everybody seems so different, but when you boil it down, move beyond the surface, we're all pretty much the same. Plus, we automatically have something in common if we're in Vienna and learning German...

Karlskirche, 1st district church
So what other "firsts" can I share with you from this week? Tuesday was the first time I watched Lillian and her friend BY MYSELF on a playdate. Her little friend only speaks German, so it was fun to use a combination of languages (including the nonsense ones they made up) to communicate. Let me just say, trying to solve arguments or prevent tantrums auf Deutsch was wild. It only happened twice when I had to actually go over and say, "Alle stop! Alle stop!" and then explain how we needed to share (teilen). And when my imperfect but calm German didn't work, I put on my Distraction Professional hat and suggested we have a picnic with the plastic food on the floor. Such an abrupt change of topic worked, and the girls completely forgot about their argument! Whew.

Stadtpark, a stop on the Spaziergang
Perhaps the craziest "first" of all is the Scrambled Eggs Fiasco. Now, I don't eat eggs. I don't like them because they smell, and they're too spongy. But Jennifer told me in June that sometimes Lillian will eat scrambled eggs for dinner, since she's a pretty light eater. That very day, I emailed my mom to find out how to make scrambled eggs (and, incidentally, grilled cheese. I know, I'm crazy.) and discovered that they're just about the easiest thing in the world to make. This past Tuesday night was the first time I ever had to make them, though. So here we go:
St. Stephen's Cathedral

Round 1: I added too much milk. Cue me standing over the stove, trying to coax this half-coagulated, milky, eggy mixture into something Lillian will eat. Turn up the heat -- starts smoking too much for my comfort. Turn down the heat -- too low, nothing's happening. Lillian is upstairs with her dad, asking over and over again, "When is dinner ready? I'm hungry." I try not to panic. I go to my laptop, search for my mom's old email, determine my mistake, and begin another batch.

I prefer Sachertorte to scrambled eggs
Round 2: They seem to take forever, but after only a splash of milk, this pan-ful actually resembles scrambled eggs! I put some onto a fun blue plate, add a dollop of creamed spinach on the side (these poor Austrian children), and bring it to the table. Dinner's ready! We sit down (I, thankfully, am eating something other than eggs). Lillian takes a bite and decides she is not hungry. Of course. I decide my hard work should not go to waste, so I take a bite of the eggs, and guess what? I still don't like them :)

Hundertwasser apartments
The last "first" of this week is happening tomorrow: I'm getting a roommate! My friend arrives in the morning, and I'm picking her up at the airport. I'm looking forward to having a friend in a similar life-position as me -- both singers, both living in Vienna, both looking for jobs, both learning the language. She's a wonderful person, and I can't wait to have a person with whom to immediately share thoughts and experiences.

So it's clear to me that somewhere along the way, I started living in Vienna. I do mundane, daily activities here. I'm not really a tourist anymore, and this hardly resembles a relaxing vacation. Amidst my erratic work schedule, I've established my own routines. I can better understand and hold conversations in German. Isn't it funny that the exact week college started again, I started really living my new life?
Vienna & the Danube, as viewed from Kahlenberg (mountain)

No comments:

Post a Comment