So I’ve now been in Vienna for 3 full days! For some reason, it feels like I’ve been in Europe for longer, but it’s only been a week since I left the states! Right now I’m still in the orientation part of my program, where I’m taking an intensive German course. I’m actually very surprised at how quickly we’re moving through things, as well as how quickly I’m picking up this language. Some say that learning your third language is much easier than learning your second one (Spanish being my second one), but I also feel that me being thrown into this Austrian atmosphere where I’m constantly forced to use German is causing me to learn infinitely more quickly. It also feels pretty exhilarating to be ordering my own food from restaurants and such for only having taking 3 days of German. 😀
I also had my first chance to hang out with real Austrians last night. My RA Rosa, who is a native of Austria, invited us over to her apartment to hang out with her friends from Vienna, and let me tell you- Austrians are mighty impressive with their multilingual abilities. Not only were her friends talking with us in fluent English, but a lot of them also knew French, Spanish, Italian, and even some Russian and Ancient Greek. Evidently, from what I learned last night, Austrian students begin their second language at 3rd grade, and their 3rd language at 5th grade. And many of them also begin learning English outside of school starting in 1st grade. Crazy!! My friends and I agreed that it makes our 4 years of high school Spanish look pitiful.
Some other thoughts on Austria so far: There’s no AC here!!! That’s probably been the biggest setback so far. It is ALWAYS hot here, and no buildings (save a few random shops) have air conditioning. Austrians take conserving the Earth very seriously… Also, Vienna has quiet hours starting at 10pm every night. When hanging out at Rosa’s apartment last night, our group actually got complained about for being too loud- when we were MUCH quieter than groups hanging out late at night in America typically are. People here who want their sleep are apparently not afraid to stand up for themselves.
Also, bratwurst here is incredible. I am now on my 3rd straight day of eating Austrian sausage. Also, gelato here is so fantastic. I don’t understand why ice cream here is so superior to American ice cream. The fact that I can go to any gelato stand on the street and know that the quality will be excellent trumps America’s ice cream chains. And it’s friggen cheap as dirt.
So today I also went on a free tour of one of Vienna’s most famous art museums, the “Kunsthistoriches” Museum, or National Gallery of Art. I don’t consider myself at all educated or knowledgeable about paintings or visual art, but for whatever reason I found myself loving this museum’s collection of art possibly more than any art museum I’ve been to! Which is saying a lot since I’ve been to the Chicago Art institute, the Met in New York, and the Louvre. There were some really, unbelievably impressive paintings there. Expect pictures of them later. Lots of Rafael and Rembrandt!
Well, that’s probably enough for now. I’m sure I’ll have lots of crazy stories to tell after the next few days and my first weekend here in Vienna. Guten nacht!