Monday, October 13, 2008

After One Week...

I'm still without internet. It's amazing how bored one gets without it. I feel entirely isolated. I don't understand anything anyone says around me and when I turn on the tv, everything is dubbed. I actually watched some movie with Goldie Hawn's sorta-husband (what's his name?) last night all the way through in German. I'm not sure what was happening, but the giant floating meatball-looking head was a bad guy I think. While I was trying to determine good guys from bad guys, Joerg Haider, a big player in the Austrian government, apparently died in a car crash. I, of course, had no idea until my friend Petra told me the next day. It just makes me a little nervous; for all I know, the world could be collapsing around me while I sit and watch dubbed episodes of Grey's Anatomy and eat Austrian chocolate.

I have taken advantage of my downtime to explore the city. Graz has an amazingly extensive public transportation system consisting of buses, streetcars, and trains. I don't think I have ever had to wait more than five minutes for a transfer, it's really pretty incredible. So I've been riding the streetcars around, getting lost and trying to figure out how to get out of the vehicles. (Some trams seem to have escape buttons but others don't. Still not sure about that one.) Today really threw me for a loop when I was herded from the tram over to a bus which I sat on for about an hour before being deposited in the middle of a marathon. I'm guessing there were upwards of 100,000 people there. Someone was yelling in German over the top of U2's "It's a Beautiful Day," which was blaring over a giant P.A in the center of town. I was just trying to get to the university.

I did manage to climb the big "castle-mountain" in the city called Schloßberg the other day. I'm not sure how many steps are in the old fortress, but it's a lot. All the old ladies in loafers with canes coming back down while I was going up really made me feel self-conscious about how much I was sweating and panting. The city is really beautiful from that vantage point; all red roofs and pointy church steeples. Some evidence:


When I think about it, I've managed to cram a lot in this past week. Tons of paperwork (including registering with the city -- the city of Graz requires every person, Austrian or otherwise, to register every, single time they move, which just blows my mind), lots of confusing grocery shopping, some beers, tons of exploring, and also getting ready for classes which start Tuesday. I'm teaching two: Swedish 1b on Tuesdays from 5.30pm - 7.30pm and Swedish 3 on Thursdays from 5.30pm -7.30pm. I'm also taking a German course on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I suppose I'll know more about the degree of disaster shortly. What if the students make fun of me in German the entire time and I don't even know it?


Holly said...

Yay! I'm glad you made it safely. I miss you here, but I'm really excited about what you are doing. I can't wait to visit!

profile said...

DUDE! The movie you watched in German was Big Trouble in Little China! My all time favorite movie as a kid. You should watch it in English, its AWFUL!

Markus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Markus said...

yeah Jörg Haider was on the news here in the US, too. Articles in the New York Times and on TV, too, and even on Aljazeera (I checked on Youtube). It's a very big thing, I'm very curious how this will effect politics now in Austria..

Have you worked out how to turn down the heating in the bathroom yet? :)

Yeah our public transport is pretty good I think, even though people still complain about it. It's a country of "Suderer", ask somebody to translate that for you, I can't, it's slang ;-)

Oh and by the way, usually tourists count the stairs up to Schloßberg I think, you didn't do that? ^^

toller Blog, freu mich schon auf weitere Erzählungen :)

liebe Grüße

Martha Weir said...

holly - i can't wait for you to visit either!

Big Trouble in Little China, yeah! I should have known. ;-)

markus - i didn't count the stairs. what sorta tourist am i??? ;-) And no, it's still a tropical country in the bathroom. I get internet on thursday and then you best be expecting a skype call from me, ha.

Greg said...

Remember to tip the people who sit outside the public restrooms (and keep them clean I guess?)! But evidently there is no need to tip a bartender in Europe...they will just look at you strangely if you do.