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Published: September 28th 2014
20140920_120100So I made it!
Claudia and I enjoying Sturm season
After all these months of planning and talking about it, and despite the many ifs, but's and maybe's that I was faced with in the last couple of months before I left, I finally landed in Vienna airport at 3.10pm on Friday 19th September 2014, and my Year abroad adventure had begun! Having had the luxury of Dad coming to Gatwick airport with me that morning and directing me around the London underground and train system, my first challenge was navigating my own way from Vienna airport into the city (about 30 mins away). However thanks to some very useful instructions from a past assistant and the ease and reliability of the public transport in Austria, this was surprisingly easy and I met Claudia, my american friend who is also working as a teaching assistant in Oberwart, at the bus stop as planned (well, she shouted me from across the road where I was stood at the exit of the underground station apparently looking lost and confused). We then took the 2 hour bus ride to Oberwart together where we were met by a lovely man named Herwig who took us to Claudia's flat and told me
A view of Oberwart from the street opposite Claudia's appartment
he would help me to look for some acommodation at the start of the next week. (I am still living with Claudia for the time being but am looking for my own place!)
The first problem we were faced with was the fact that in Austria (as I believe is the case in most of Europe) everywhere is closed by 7.30pm and shops are only open till noon on Saturday and closed on Sundays. Since we arrived at 6.50pm we almost missed the Supermarkets but managed to find a LIDL which was open until 8pm so managed to grab a few supplies before we were kicked out. We've now been in Austria over a week and we still forget that Austria is not 24/7; I think this will take some getting used to! After spending the weekend wandering around our new home, and being taken out for a lovely all-you-can-eat breakfast by a teacher at a local primary school who would like us to help out in her school too, we were ready to head to Graz for our induction session. GRAZ
So we spent the first week of our time in Austria living the
Schloss St. Martin where we attended our training
true Sound of Music life; basically we attended a training course in a beautiful castle and lived in an ex convent where there were still plenty of nuns wandering around the place. In a nutshell the course introduced us to the idea of teaching and gave us some ideas of how to present different topics, how to use texts and songs in lessons and some games to use whilst teaching. Some things we learnt were useful, others not so much. However the surroundings were beautiful and we got to meet all of the other assistants which was great and I had a lot of fun! One of the highlights of the week, which must be mentioned, was Wednesday night's social activity 'Musik und Tanz' (Music and Dance). This was described on the program as 'Verpflichtend für alle' (Compulsory for all) and was a highly discussed and highly dreaded hour and a half that awaited us. When the time finally came, we discovered that Austrian Folk dancing consists of some interesting walking around the room making various lines and circles before actually dancing in pairs a few steps at a time. I'm aware that I'm not making this sound like much
Schloss st. Martin
fun, but it was absolutely crazy and those of us who didn't dib out had a great time! It also goes down as one of the most interesting ways to meet people...as with most folk dancing we were made to dance in pairs, a boy and a girl together, and then the boys had to move round the circle and dance with the next girl in line. It's not every day that you meet people by being thrown at them and putting your arms around each other's neck/waist and dancing closely together whilst trying to catch your breath enough to say your name. But hey, it was fun!
Other highlights in Graz included having a free evening to wander around the City, where we sampled Wiener Schnitzel and walked to the top of a castle where we could see out across the whole of the beautiful city, and the talent show on the last evening which involved a quiz show at the end where we had to match the austrian word with the equivalent hochdeutsch word in which me and Claudia represented our group along with another guy and we successfully lost. We also had the chance to teach
We climbed to the top of this to see a view of Graz...to get there and be told that security were closing it because it was dangerous in the dark. Worth it for the view though!
a lesson in small groups in a school in Graz which definitely eased the nerves for the real thing!
It was sad to leave everyone in Graz, we'd had a great week and met some great people, but we returned to Oberwart with a lot more friends and a lot more excitement of what was to come than we had when we left. Getting to grips with the austrian accent was always and still is going to be a challenge, however we have learnt a few local words and I'm definitely getting more and more used to it. And as for Austria itself, especially Burgenland (my Province) I love it. There's something about this tiny town, surrounded by fields and mountains that makes me feel quite at home. I can definitely get used to looking out of my window at the mountains every morning and admiring the beautiful houses here. All in all, its been a great start here in Austria and now I'm excited to start my school on Wednesday and to spend the next 5 months discovering more of this beautiful country. BRING IT ON.
Until next time,
View of Graz from Schloss St. Martin.
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