Thursday, October 11, 2012

Random observations from my (almost!) first month in Austria:

  • When I introduce myself, I tell the students that I’ve lived in three states. I ask them what they know about each state. My favorite answer for Texas is that Sandy from SpongeBob SquarePants is from Texas.
  • There is a brand of cigarettes in Austria called Memphis.
  • And the students here don’t seem to know anything about Minnesota, except that Marshall from How I Met Your Mother is from Minnesota.
  • It also apparently snows more in Austria than it does in Minnesota, according to my students.
  • Living in a foreign country makes me feel like an idiot 99.99% of the time.
    • Example: today I made a faux pas with my silverware. The way I had left them on my plate after finishing my meal at school indicated I wanted more food. One of the other teachers realized that it was a misunderstanding and told me how I should leave the silverware on my plate to indicate that I am finished. 
    • Other times I feel like a genius, like when I went to the bank and deposited money into my account, ordered a new bank card and set up internet banking, all in German!
  • Austrians are very blunt and straightforward. I feel like it could take months to get used to this. But when they do praise me, I know it’s genuine.
  • The students’ English is better than my German. Sometimes they hide this fact from me and won’t talk. But they can speak really good English when they want to.
  • Speaking of the students, they are all super nice! Even the boys, who know how to turn on the charm when they want to.
  • My students are also surprised that I live in Bischofshofen and never hesitate to tell me how boring it is.
  • Bischofshofen is a little boring, but I’m so glad that there are two other TAs nearby in small towns. It makes it easier being here!
  • Despite the fact that I live in a small town in Austria, I am so grateful to be here. It’s only the second week of school, so I think once I get to know the students and teachers better, I won’t feel as isolated. 
  • One nice thing about a small town is that people are friendlier. People say hello to me on the street, which catches me off-guard, as I thought this was a very American thing to do. Also, my landlady is almost like my "Austrian grandma" as another TA puts it. She brought me apple cake the other day and also told me I need to button my coat up because it's cold. 
  • Schools are really different here (obviously!). Students stand when the teacher and I enter the room. On my first day in each school, no one seemed to care that a random person was wandering around in their school. Very different from the US!
  • I had my first lessons this week that were not introductions. They went fairly well and I feel like I actually might like teaching more than I thought!
  • Sparkling water doesn’t seem to be as carbonated here as what I like to drink in the United States.
  • Dirndls are supposed to be really tight around the waist. I tried one on and the sales clerk told me I needed to pretty much stop breathing to put it on and, I guess, wear it.
  • I have a new addiction to Eisschokolade, but my favorite café is no longer serving it. Very disappointing
  • However, fortunately or unfortunately, Fanta is readily available here. And it tastes so much better in Europe than it does in the US.
  • The huge 1 liter mugs of beer weigh a ton!  
  • Not my beer!
  • And finally, I never thought I would say this, but Austria isn't seeming as foreign anymore. Even the mountains, which I was in awe of the first week, are just kind of there to me now. 


  1. Wow, maybe Salzburg is different. But in my experience it snows WAY more in MN than in Austria!

    1. Well, I am in the mountains, so I think it does snow a lot where I am. But I think the kids probably are exaggerating, I hope!

  2. Love this post! It is so much fun to read about your experiences. David (my American husband) always says that Germans are very straightforward and blunt. :) Your landlady sounds adorable!

    1. Yeah, they are very straightforward! I know Americans tend to cushion not so nice things in nice words, so it's a hard adjustment for me sometimes.