It’s 8:45 p.m., and Rachel and I are hovering over the final touches on a late supper. It’s been a full day. I trained (i.e., took a train) down to Mödling by 7:30 for visa paperwork and then hurried back to Vienna for registration at the Music Uni. After lunch, Stacey Hunter dropped Rachel and me off at Ikea (famous last works: I don’t think this will take too long), followed by Brad Hunter and son Luke helping move borrowed furniture from their 5th floor apartment (miniscule elevator) to our 3rd floor apartment (no elevator). They have just finished putting together a futon and desk and left amidst many “thank-yous,” and Rachel and I are ready for supper and some rest.
But, suddenly — poof — no electricity! Our flurried cooking has blown a fuse. So, we spend the next hour meeting neighbors and nibbling on mostly cooked victuals. Mercifully, one of our neighbors (there are four apartments on our floor, with Austrian, Turkish, Bulgarian, British, and American residents) has an extra fuse. Light returns, and we’ve had just the necessary nudge to meet some of those whom we’ll meet on the stairway in the coming months.
It’s been a good last week, and a few paragraphs will have to suffice as snapshots for now.
Church. It’s been great to reconnect with New City Wien! There are a number of new faces (and some missing ones — the international community in Vienna is transitional), and we’re meeting in a beautiful new space. I’ve felt so warmly welcomed back — practical help with furniture and banking, spontaneous meals with the Hunters and Beilmans, an immediate part in the music team, and the treasure of sharing a meal after each service and getting a chance to know my Vienna church family. Yesterday was a work day in the new (to us) building. Sanding, painting, climbing an extension ladder to the 5-meter ceiling — good ways to make “church” more than a Sunday activity.
German. I’m definitely living in-between two worlds when it comes to language. Lots of conversations start in German and morph rapidly to English. My roommate is fluent in English, French, and German; so, there’s plenty of opportunity to practice, especially with such a willing and gracious conversation partner! Listening is definitely the “easiest,” but a successful (i.e., I followed much of the conversation but contributed very little) lunch in German with three friends is counterbalanced by faster-paced conversation with other acquaintances over dinner the same day that leaves me in the dust. At church, Brad usually preaches in German, and someone translates. But today the sermon was in German first, and I still got well over half of it!
New faces. Sue, American musician who has called Vienna home for many years and who introduced me to my roommate here; Bori, Korean-American violinist married to a German working in the hotel business in Vienna; Manuela, Hungarian singer trained in Graz and moving to Vienna to look for teaching and performing work; Mariam, Iranian violin student trying to find her footing in music school; Josef, Clemens, Lisa, friends from Rachel’s church who have helped tremendously with moving furniture and putting together bookshelves (and dismantling the over-sized wardrobe in my room); Vicki, wife of a British ambassador and hospitable neighbor who lets us descend to use the internet while she offers us tea and oversees kids’ homework; Mr. Pokorny, helpful Mödling official who didn’t look nearly as scary as his office door suggested (Fremdenpolizei, literally, “foreigner police”) and who greeted me by name when I entered his office to ask about my visa — apparently it’s a small enough town that he recognized me from the passport photo sent with the visa application; Charlie (“Charlotte”), British artist with dreadlocks who teaches English at a Montessori school and who may well be on the same train as I am lots of mornings; Julia, vivacious Austrian whom I met through a Kiwi cousin (thanks, Franci!) — already we’ve enjoyed a long walk at Schönbrunn, shared connections with New Zealand friends and family, laughter and soul-nourishing conversation, talk of train trips, and tasty coffee.
New week. This coming week I’m off to Graz (southern Austria) for a few days training for the teaching assistantship that starts on October 1st. I’m looking forward to meeting other TA’s and getting a better picture of what my work responsibilities will look like. Needless to say, the next post will cover Graz and hopefully include some apartment photos.