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.

Makin' Pancakes, Makin' Bacon Pancakes

February 28, 2015

New post time! I have been in Austria for nearly a month now, and finally my classes are about to begin! Everyone back at home are almost ready to go on their Spring Break, and I haven’t even had my first day yet, which is very strange. This week has been more of the same old settling into classes, and I don’t think it was quite as exciting as the previous few weeks, so this post may be a bit shorter than the others.

On Monday I had German class on usual in the morning, and that afternoon I went with my flatmate to one of the public libraries to see if I could find anything of interest in the English section. In Austria, library cards aren’t free, but instead are a yearly subscription of some sort, which means I’ll need to take someone from Graz with me anytime I want to check out a book. Turns out this really isn’t much of a problem, as I pretty much checked out every book in the English section that interested me. All one of them. To be fair, they had probably 4 or 5 shelves of books, but I had either read them previously, or have no intention on reading them ever. After the library, we went to a coffee shop nearby and got frozen coffee, and then came back home for the evening. Each week I’ve found a new easy-to-make, inexpensive food to cook on the days I don’t eat out, and after getting tired of pizza last week, I’ve moved on to making tortellini. We’ll see how long until I’m completely sick of that too.

On Tuesday, I’m pretty sure I did ran errands or something sort of interesting, but I completely don’t remember. Oh well.

For lunch on Wednesday, I met up with my study abroad buddy, who I hadn’t really seen since my first week in Austria. We went to a “traditional” Austrian restaurant in the Old Town that was very delicious. I had the Wednesday special, which was basically meat and potatoes, although cooked up in a fancy way. We talked about how my time in Graz was going, and she gave me a lot of information about cheap housing and transportation for when I want to travel around Europe, which was very much appreciated. After lunch, we wandered around the nearby shops for a bit, before parting ways and heading back home.

This this was the final week of my 3 week German course, I had my final exam on Friday. This means I spent most of Thursday night looking over notes trying to remember whether carrots are male or female, and other strange things. The exam was on Friday morning, and was in two parts: a written test, and then an oral portion. The oral portion consisted of us babbling to the teacher for two minutes about anything we could think of to describe ourselves, and then a dialogue between a waiter and customer that we came up with a partner. The written part of the exam went fairly well I think, but I got full marks on the oral part of the exam, which I was pretty excited about. I, surprisingly, really enjoyed learning German, so much so that I’ve enrolled in the next German course – German Level A1 part 2, which will be starting pretty soon. As an end of the course celebration, a number of the students wanted to go to the big hockey game being held that night, until we found out it was sold out except for seats in the team facing Graz’s section. Instead, we decided to go to a local pub and watch the game on TV… Until some people arrived and couldn’t get through the door. So instead, we went into a pub with no television, and then went and got kebabs for dessert. A meaty, delicious dessert.

My flatmate is really into American culture and all that stuff, so this weekend I promised I’d make her American pancakes, as she’s never had them before. She invited a few other Austrians who had never had them either, so I was cooking for about a half dozen people this morning. Turns out Bisquick isn’t a thing in Austria, so I made pancakes from scratch, and even though we didn’t really have any proper measuring utensils, they turned out pretty good. The concept of ‘flour is a solid, but we don’t measure it by weight, we measure it in cups, which is a volume’ was also something that the Europeans couldn’t quite grasp. Nevertheless, I had pancakes for the first time in a month, and even though the maple syrup was a bit… Austrian, the Europeans didn’t know what to expect, so they were an easy crowd to please.

I almost forgot to mention that on Monday I also went and met with one of the physics advisors about what courses I should take. He said that it was perfectly fine for me to take the master’s level physics courses, and even claimed that I would have no trouble taking physics courses in German, as the professor would be happy to help me along. While, I don’t doubt that the professor would help me, I think I’m still going to stick to English for the time being. Classes here are rather strange though, I’m used to having about 4-6 hours of classes a day, Monday through Friday. Here, each class meets for about 1.5 to 2 hours, only one day a week. I’m signed up for 6 classes right now, but only go to school 3 days a week, and even then for only about 3 hours a day. How on earth they get their degrees in only three years is beyond me. I’m going to have more free time than I know what to do with. They were amazed that the American students thought the workload was so low, and one girl from Australia mentioned that this would be the highest workload she’s ever had. I’m going to college in the wrong country I think. In any case, I’m now officially signed up for these super exciting classes:

German A1/2
GIS Fundamentals
Literary Studies Seminar: The Beatles (Although I’m only on a waiting list)
Practical Experience in Astronomy
Sun & Space Weather
Number Theory

Full disclosure though, when I first signed up for Sun & Space Weather, it said that the course would be in both English and German, but with an English textbook, so I thought it would be okay. However, now the course says it’s only in German. I guess I’ll show up this week and see if I can understand the professor or not. If not, I have enough buffer to drop it, so we’ll see!

That’s about all I have for this week. Next week is my first week of classes, so I’m sure I’ll have lots to talk about then. However, two of my classes don’t even start for another week, so if you’re excited to hear about the Beatles course or German, you’ll have to wait. I’m still waiting on word for when I go to get my visa, as I’m more or less living in the country illegally. So until next week!

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