Let me just say: to have people not gawk awkwardly at your name tag is a bittersweet thing. Sweet, because having people awkwardly stare at your chest is weird and uncomfortable. Bitter, because I loved the role I played as an awkward little American missionary, and it was with that name tag I learned to love the German people.
However, that being said, there are some other things which are pretty sweet, such as: staying out past 9pm, going where we want when we want, alone time, and reserving the right to be silent on trains.
It is a whole new experience, and I my heart is growing in a whole new way for these people. Little things will surprise me as I recall the quirks of German speaking people, the quirks I adore so much.
This week has been an adventure, to say the least. The time that has passed since Wednesday feels like one huge day with a couple long naps thrown in. We have done already so much and met so many people, and it has only been a few days.
We arrived in Vienna at 4:30pm Wednesday afternoon. A taxi driver picked us up and although I got 0 hours of sleep on the plane, my eyes were wide and my happy soul was worn all over my sleeve. The taxi driver drove inches from the next car, and made sharp turns at breakneck speeds. Elda clutched at my hand and tried not to laugh in glee as the narrow streets forced us to drive passed semis by millimeters. For the first 5 min, the driver was silent, and then, as he realized we spoke German, he proceeded to rehearse his entire life-story. It was beautiful, so German, and so real. I smiled as he told us things most Americans would wait months to confide to an acquaintance.
We arrived at the institute, and it was then, as we looked at our fresh-faced and rested fellow students who had arrived days before us, that we realized how bedraggled we actually were. They asked us questions and we just stared passed their faces into space, awake-dreaming of leg-room and a pillow larger than our hand.
For dinner we ate pizza and I proudly ordered Almdudler, an Austrian specialty which tastes like bitter ginger ale.
After dinner, we dragged our luggage across Vienna to our host family’s house. They are a dream! Jessica, Lloyd, and Evie make up a cute little family. Jessica is from America, Lloyd from London, and Evie is their 15mo. old SUPER CUTE AND SO SMILEY DAUGHTER. I am in love and they are chill and kind and good. They live in an apartment just off the coast of the Danube and there is an open market and grocery store within three min of our front door. We hit the jackpot.
We hit our pillows at 10pm after being awake for more than 30 hours and it was glorious.
Since then, we have eaten Gelato, saw Joshua Bell in concert, stood inches from the oldest piece of art in the world, touched dinosaur bones, fell asleep in concert halls, ridden trains, been hit on by drunk old men, eaten bread, cheese, and meat to our hearts content, had a barbecue by the Danube, grilled dough on a stick, and walked the cutest alley in Vienna. On average I walked 10miles a day and I am so tired and yet so full of good.
Friday, was my first day of getting involved here in Vienna with the kinder. So, I don’t know how many of you know this, but recently Austria stopped bringing in immigrant to camps, so, there aren’t any camps left like there were in Berlin. Therefore, my internship will be working with those who are already here, more specifically, with the kids. I will be working at the Schubert Schule (Schubert School). I am not 100% sure what that totally entails, but I have been told I will be helping to run things as I speak German. Anyways, back to Friday, when I had to report at 8am to a little track and field event where they were hosting integration schools. This rad organization sets up an annual Field day where they invite a bunch of non-native integration schools and I oversaw the Frisbee throw! It was so nice and so perfect to be back with kids, most of whom did not speak German before coming to Austria. I also met Babsi, this rad Viennese girl who will be working at these schools after she graduates next week. It was so neat to see her work with the kids and also to talk to her about the school system and how they handle integration here. More on this as my internship progresses and I show up for work at 7:45am tomorrow.
Now, I am sitting on my little bed in our sweet room with a picturesque view of the Danube. We just got back from an adventure and man, it was GLORIOUS. This morning, we went to church at 9am at this little ward in west Wien. The Sisters were standing in the doorway and immediately I saw the exhaustion and overwhelming I-have-no-clue-what-is-going-on in one sisters’ eyes. She is brand new and as I talked to her I remembered back to my adventures with my trainer in Kiel, and wanted to tell her, “I promise it will be ok!” but all I could do was encourage her and tell her that her German was pretty.
Church was fantastic and Elda and I looked back and forth at each other with the biggest grins on our faces as the quirks we love so dearly shined through in this dear little Gemeinde (congregation). Everyone was so sweet and so welcoming, and it took the teacher about an hour to realize he didn’t have to dumb everything down for the little band of Americans.
After church, we came home and ate bucket loads of fruit we got from the open-air market yesterday. Peaches, strawberries, and nectarines; all for under 3 Euro. THIS IS HEAVEN I TELL YA.
After our lunch, we passed out for a solid 3 hours and we woke up to a message from our pals, the Noorda twins asking if we wanted to go wandering. (A play on words seeing as the German word for hike or a walk is Wandern LOL). I chose a random spot on Google maps with a bus stop near it.
Guys, I don’t know if I can even describe to you with real human words how incredible those next three hours were.
After seeing a cool steeple in the distance we decided to get out and walk toward it. We were in a little village just outside of Vienna where the buses come only once an hour and the streets were Sunday-silent. As we walked we came across a little church from the 1200’s. Then, as we continued to walk towards the steeple we came to the most glorious, fantastical, jaw-dropping place ever. Right there, in this little town we found the ruins of the oldest Gothic church in Wien, right next to a huge church built in the 1300’s, right next to the Rathaus also built around then, right next to another building from the 1200’s, looking over the actual Danube river, at sunset in Wien in Sunday-silence.
Please see pictures for a minuscule understanding of how rad this was.
Coming home on our bus, which came just in time, by the way, I smiled and told Elda I was happy. It was one of those moments of bliss. A moment when everything stands still when you are looking up at a church built hundreds of years ago, and standing amongst the ruins of a place built by the hands of Burgundian laborers at twilight.
I felt the bliss, and it was good.
Much love aus Wien,