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.

Not too much to report

March 14, 2015

This week won’t be quite as interesting as the past few weeks have been, but I’ll make it up by doing something quite exciting next week. This week was my second week of actual classes, and for many of my classes, this would be the first time that they actually met. To spare you all from another post of class-related descriptions, I’m just going to keep this rather short and summarize the more interesting parts.

I started having German lessons again this week, which is basically German 1: Part 2. However, I’m not really sure how much I’m going to learn during the semester. I only have German for 1.5 hours per week, as opposed to the 15 hours a week I was having before, which means I’ll have as much German class time this semester as I did my first week in Austria. Given that I haven’t learned a whole lot so far, it’s very up in the air how much I’ll learn before I have to go home. I also have to miss next week’s class, due to the exciting event that I hinted at earlier. Oooo what could it be?

I went back to one more lecture on Number Theory, and ended up dropping the class. It’s not a good sign when you understand virtually nothing of the first lecture. It’s a bit of a shame though, as the professor was very nice, and tried to make sure that the exchange students knew what to do to sign up for classes and what not, but there wasn’t a whole lot I could do.

Wednesday, however, was very exciting. Besides having a class in the afternoon, I went out to the observatory to get a tour and start working on the class research project. The complex is located on the edge of the city on top of a nearby mountain, which is very picture-esque as it overlooks the entire city. I tried to get a few pictures of the place, and of the sun setting over Graz, but sadly they didn’t really turn out. The observatory is shared between my university and the nearby Technical University, which apparently are in the process of merging together. In any case, my university has access to a large telescope dome on the roof that’s controlled from a computer lab one floor below. The other university has a very powerful laser in their dome, and while we were there, they were doing an experiment where they would shoot the laser at passing satellites, and measure how long it took the light to come back. Once the sun set, you could even see very brightly their green laser coming out of the building and moving across space. We didn’t really get into anything too technical, we spent most of the evening on the roof looking at various objects with a regular reflecting telescope, and then at the end of the evening used the computerized telescope to watch two of Jupiter’s moon pass in front of one another, which was pretty cool. It was rather cold that day, and I was certainly not dressed well enough for standing on a roof for hours, which is a lesson I will remember for next week.

My Beatles class also started this week, and I barely got in by the skin of my teeth. I mentioned that I was on the waiting list, so when I showed up for class, about 20 extra people who were also on the waiting list were standing around the edge of the classroom. The professor only had about 6 extra spots to fill, so he just called down the waiting list, and if you didn’t make it, you were simply kicked out. Luckily for me, foreign exchange students were given priority, so I was about the 4th one to make it into the class. However, the professor had to leave about 20 minutes into class, so we actually didn’t cover anything at all this week.

The last thing I did this week, was completely switch my schedule around AGAIN. I mentioned that I had to drop Number Theory, but I also went to a Data Analysis class on Tuesday that was of course taught in German. The class didn’t last for very long, and the instructions were in computer jargon up on the projector, so I was able to carry along pretty well. I’m unsure if I’ll stay in the class or not, as the professor (who apparently wasn’t even our real professor) didn’t seem to pleased to hear there was a non-German speaker in the class. We’ll see. So I ended up re-signing up for that Space Weather class, which I was signed up for previously, then dropped because it was in German, but now re-enrolled because I was told it was actually in English. Follow that? Good. It’s a good thing that I don’t actually need any credits while I’m here, as this place is an academic nightmare.

So, what’s the big excitement going on next week? I’m going to Slovenia! As I might have mentioned, I still don’t actually have a visa yet, which means I can’t legally stay in the country for more than three months. To get a visa, I have to travel to the nearest Austrian Embassy, which happens to be in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia (No country has an embassy in their own capital). I’ve known that I would have to make this trip eventually, but I didn’t know the details until this week. I leave at 5 AM on Monday to travel to Slovenia, where we have appointments with the embassy in the morning. We then get a tour around the city for most of the day, then pick up our visa and head home that night. As far as I know, there will be about 20 other people going on the trip, and I think that they’re all American as well. I’m honestly a bit nervous about this trip, as figuring out what paperwork you do and don’t need is a bit of a hassle, especially when half of it is in German. To complicate things further, my blood feud with the international offices here has continued, as the university has stated that they will not be assisting us in the process, and that we are solely responsible for having the paperwork we need. Between that, and only having their offices open at bizarre hours (6:30 PM – 8 PM on Tuesdays, 11 AM – 12 PM on Fridays), I’ll be very glad to have this process over and done with. Luckily, I’ve been stockpiling every piece of paper given to me for six months, so I should have everything… somewhere. So stay tuned next week to see how my trip went!

Other than that, I really don’t have too much else to talk about this week. I met a cat on the walk back from the bus, so its picture will be the front of the post. He had an orange mustache, and looked very dapper. Until next week then!

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