Picture of the skyline of Graz

This is a copy of my study abroad blog, moved here as a backup. The original post can be viewed here.

More new things

February 20, 2015

Another week, another blog! I know everyone could barely contain themselves waiting for me to post some more stuff about my stay, but wait no more, that time is now.

This is the end of my second of three weeks of German class, and I feel like I’m actually learning a little bit. Definitely not enough to strike up any conversations, but I’ve gotten numbers and the days of the week done, so that’s something at least. On Wednesday we had our ‘mid-term’ exam, and I did pretty well on it, although to be honest I don’t think this class even counts for anything, but I might as well try.

This week was also the University’s “Welcome Week”, where we got a tour of all the buildings whose names we can’t pronounce, and a new email address that I haven’t been able to log into yet. All in all, the information has been somewhat useful, although choosing my classes has been somewhat of a hassle. Enrollment isn’t for another week, but I had a look at the available courses, and there’s really nothing that I need or that interests me that’s in English, apart from a couple of really cool astronomy courses that are at the Master’s level. I have a meeting with a physics advisor on Monday, so I’m hoping to weasel my way into those courses, and I have the prerequisites, and I’ve heard they’ve let people do it in the past.

Even with the additional meetings, this week has been pretty eventful. On Tuesday, our teacher let us out of class early to attend a festival that was going on throughout Graz. I walked down through the city’s central park to the Congress building where food stands had been set up, and a parade route was making a turn-around in the square. The parade was really cool, not only do the parade goers dress up, but many of the people around town were in costumes as well. My personal favorite parts was a float featuring 3 Spider-Men saving a man in a dress from a burning building, a woman dressed up like the Killer Bunny from Monty Python, and a clown whose sole job was literally to shovel confetti onto the passing parade floats. I also looked around at what the stands were selling and bought myself an overpriced chocolate-covered banana, which was very good.

I was completely amazed at this cool Austrian holiday full of parades and dressing up, until someone finally told me that it was Fat Tuesday and this was their Mardi Gras. It was a short and sweet celebration though, the parade started at about 11 AM, but was over by about 1 PM. Most things here are only open for a few hours at a time, and I guess their parade was no exception. This is why the teacher had to let us out early to see it, as the parade would’ve been over had we been finished at our normal time. The one downside to this is that he had to make up the extra hour somewhere, so the last two days we’ve had to come in 30 minutes earlier.

On Thursday (yesterday), I went to my class and meetings as usual, and then was invited to have lunch with some students at a nearby pub. They have a system here that a number of similarly owned restaurants have. You go in and take one of several small sheets of paper, and mark down what kind of food you want. For example, I chose to get a pizza, and I had my choice of up to four toppings, with a massive selection. From meat to vegetables, tofu, Tabasco, curry, anything you could possibly want. They don’t just have pizza, but burger, pasta, toast (?), omelet-y things and more. And the sizes are huge. I got the minipizza, and it was the size of a dinner plate, and cheap too. It’s a good system. Anyway, the other students were telling me how they were leaving to go to Budapest today, which apparently is a popular destination from Graz due to it being not very far away. I haven’t yet traveled out of Austria yet, so hopefully I’ll be able to do that soon, and Budapest maybe a likely candidate. After lunch, we all went to a bookstore that actually has an English section, albeit not a very large one. I did buy a book however, and I’ll probably end up bringing back a whole suitcase full of books by the time I leave here.

Today was a very exciting day indeed. I went ice skating for the first time, and I actually wasn’t half bad at it. I amazingly never fell down once, and towards the end I was skating around without much trouble at all. I raced a few of my friends and got second place! Out of three. From my elementary school roller skating experience, I didn’t expect to be very good, but I really enjoyed myself, which is a bit of a shame, as I’m told the ice skating rinks are about to close for the season. I also never realized how many exchange students there were from Minnesota, until they started skating in circles around me. There was one catch though, my rented ice skates didn’t fit very well, so I rubbed a hole in the side of one of my feet. It was rather gross, but it’s all band-aided up now.

That’s about all there is to report. One of my flatmates (housemate? Apartment-mate?) returned last night, so my week-long peace and quiet has come to an end, although it’ll be nice to have someone else around. They already have plans of me teaching them how American football works, so I guess I better get to work on that. This weekend should be pretty tame, as my only plan for tomorrow is to sleep in. Next week is my final week of German class, so I’ll have to study for the final exam on Friday. Then, I have a week off to do whatever I want before classes begin on March 9th. With any luck, I’ll be able to do some traveling during that week and figure out what my class load will be by then. If not, there’s a possibility I’ll get a Wesleyan visitor during Spring Break and we can travel around then! Until then, I’ll post again sometime next weekend, and I’ll put up those pictures on the gallery!

EDIT: So, I’ve fiddled around a bit, and there now should be both a WordPress subscribe and email subscribe button on the right side of the page. So if you want to always see my latest posts, that would be the way to do it! However, my own ad blocker was causing issues with it, so if you can’t see the buttons, it’s probably the ad blocker.

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