Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Crib

So people have been asking me if I could put up some photos of my place here in Graz, so I decided to do a little "Martha's Crib" blog. I don't exactly live in the suburbs, but I don't live very central either. I live at the end of the city tram line in a quiet residential area called Andritz. Lots of apartment buildings and lots of kids. This is my building:

I live on the ground floor, nearly dead-center in the photograph. Fairly non-descript place, but tidy and dead-quiet after all the kids go to sleep. I'm subletting, so the place is furnished which was a huge bonus.

My apartment is nice and cozy. Here are some photos of the inside:

I either take the bus or the tram to school. There is a direct bus, no direct tram but buses make me feel like vomiting so I usually opt for the tram:

I take my German classes at Karl-Franzen-Universität in Graz. It's a small campus with many beautiful old buildings.

I teach a little distance off-campus in a small, old building on Johan-Fux Gasse. Basically you hike up this steep hill at the edge of campus for about 8 minutes and you will end up at my place of employment. The building is located in the middle of the botanical gardens, which is pretty great apart from the hornets' nests. It's not very fun to teach with hornets buzzing around your head.

If you want to see more photos of my place or where I work, I put some up on flickr. (I'm looking at you, Mom.) Click here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner

My friend Sam saved me a generous serving of the Thanksgiving dinner she made yesterday for her American boyfriend. It's funny how I never really missed Thanksgiving dinner until I was some place I couldn't get it. I'm currently in the food coma y'all were in yesterday.

Example 2: Why textbooks should never try to be "cool"

Because I am positive you all listen daily to the "Tag, wie geht's-Rap" I posted some weeks back, I decided to add another song to your playlist. This one is called "Der Einkaufsbummel-Rap" or "The Shopping Spree-Rap" and is another prime example of the painfully embarrassing attempts of textbook writers to be cool. I love it.


Thursday, November 27, 2008


So I am running around like crazy. I need to slow down! Met up with my friends Tara and Bennett in Budapest last weekend. Favorites: the amazing marzipan sweets, the cheap eats, the Buda Labyrinth, and this amazing bar called Szimpla Kert. It was kind of a gutted warehouse hidden in a residential area heated by propane and nearly as large as a city block. Lots of hot wine was consumed while watching the first snowfall. I can't imagine a better weekend.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I'm not totally broke anymore!

Amazing. I guess all I needed to do was blog about my problem and it would go away. Who knew?

I'm off to buy a bike and a real meal. I still think I might be dreaming.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Less Money, More Problems

So I have hesitated to blog about this, simply because I didn't want to seem like I'm complaining or hinting for help. (I'm not!) But this is the deal: I have been in Graz nearly two months and I have yet to get paid. I'm living off credit cards, racking up debt and finance charges daily. At the same time, I'm working my ass off, teaching two classes and taking another. I don't even understand what is going on to be honest. The paperwork and contract i signed weeks ago seems to get passed from one persom to the next, but never gets handed to anyone who can actually do anything about it. The most infuriating part is that I was told that the money had been deposited on a specific date and that it would show up in 3-5 business days. That was last Friday, and now they are saying "oops, hopefully it will come next week! Sorry!" At the point I have two equally unappealing options: 1) I go home and miss out on an opportunity to gain valuable teaching experience and learn a new language. I will also have to pay two months rent and risk losing a hefty security deposit. 2) I stay and keep eating bread, asking for extensions on my rent, racking up debt, and working for no compensation. No matter what I decide, I lose.

Hey, at least I have health insurance. Or at least I think I do.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


So I have been pretty bad about updating this regularly. It's just been a crazy couple of weeks. Ever since Tara was here, I have felt like I have been running from one thing to the next. I'm really looking forward to a weekend at home; just some time to relax and get caught up with schoolwork and my classes.

A quick re-cap: Three days after I got home from Munich and its Wolpertingers, I boarded a train to Zagreb, Croatia. Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, a member of former Yugoslavia until 1991.

After a winding train ride through Slovenia, complete with picturesque Slovenian castles perched up on the mountainsides, we crossed the border into Croatia. I've gotten used to hassle-free travel within the European Union, so the gruff interactions with the flood of border control police officers was mildly disconcerting. Still, within four hours, we were standing at the central train station in Zagreb.

The weekend was spent exploring the city and its many squares and gorgeous architecture. I'm not sure what I expected when I planned the trip to Croatia, but I definitely didn't expect what I found; a clean modern city with extensive public transportation and architectural masterpieces.

I just walked around and stared at its beauty. And because food is pretty expensive in Austria, I took the opportunity to really gorge myself. Phyllo pastries stuffed with meat and cheese and dripping grease was a favorite. So were the spicy sausages of multiple varieties served in a baguette for roughly $2.00. Because I went with a group, part of the trip included a buffet lunch at a traditional Croatian restaurant where I discovered that Fogo de Chão has nothing on Croatia. One course alone included more than five plates of various meats, stacked at least six inches high.

Desert was an amazing chocolate-filled crepe. I spent the evening trying the various tasty and inexpensive beers.

I'm still reeling from the realization that I am SO CLOSE to everything here. I can't believe I can hop on a train and be in Italy in four hours. Or Zagreb. Or Budapest. I want to see everything, go everywhere! I have to keep reminding myself that I have time, there's no need to pack everything in all at one. But that won't stop me from traveling to Budapest next weekend -- Bennett arrived in Europe yesterday and I am meeting him and Tara in Budapest for the weekend. I seriously can't wait.

Now if only it would snow here.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Just a note on the creature in the post below. Petra clarifies its nature:

"It's a WOLPERTINGER, also called "woiperdinger" in the Bavarian dialect. In parts of Austria they are called "Raurackl". They were sold to tourists who were told they were actual animals (which could only be found, what a surprise, by virgins or the like...)."

A Bavarian Trip

Yay, Obama!!! I stayed up until about 3am last night watching CNN and somehow managed to fall asleep before his victory was announced. There were lots of viewing parties in town -- at the Uni, at bars, all over. I guess the US as a superpower is pretty scary for everyone.

This last week has been nuts. I keep meaning to blog about my daily existence here -- put up some photos of my apartment, where i work, etc etc but I just haven't had a chance. I DID have the chance to go on a whirlwind trip to Munich with my friend Petra, who had an appointment to take the GRE. I remember complaining that I had to go to White Bear Lake to take the GRE; I take all that back now. Not only did Petra have to travel 6+ hours to get to the testing center, she also had to pay for a hotel, transportation AND pay a higher fee for the test itself. While she was saddled with that nightmare, I was skipping along beside her, footloose and fancy-free. We were only in Munich for a total of about 27 hours including sleep time but I managed to get all over town. What i discovered: Munich is huge and beautiful. (Unless you go to the outskirts. Then Munich is huge and sort of like Bloomington minus all the shopping malls.)

Favorites: St. Peter's church; you can climb to the top of the church tower and see panoramic views of the entire city. The New Town Hall; crazy and beautiful gothic architecture. Viktualienmarkt; a big street market in central Munich. Of course I also really liked all the pictures of German girls in traditional dress carrying comically-large beers: Like this.

Click here if you wanna see some photos from my trip.