Graz

It’s Friday, late afternoon.  Hmm, should I try to go to the opera this evening?  If I hurry, I have just enough time to pack a book (maybe it’s time for another re-read of The Fellowship of the Ring), sandwich, and camera before hopping on the train downtown to the Staatsoper.  …I arrive just before 5:30, when standing room spots go on sale; and I am barely into Bilbo’s birthday party before I have acquired my standing room ticket, marked my spot with a scarf (nice tradition that lets people find a place and then go out for coffee or whatever), and traipsed back downstairs to sit outside and enjoy book and picnic before the opera begins.  …Happily, even though I don’t know anything about the opera (Mussorgsky’s Boris Gudinov), it will be a cultured evening for all of 4€.

Teacher training in Graz

Most of the past week I spent at a seminar in Graz, a beautiful 2½ hour train ride south of Vienna.  The seminar was for us English teaching assistants working in Wien, Steiermark, Burgenland, and Niederösterriech (my province, though I’m living in Wien).

Initially, I was taken aback by feeling like a freshman in college all over again, with everyone asking everyone, “What’s your name?  Where are you from?  Where are you teaching?”  However, despite the disparities of age (20 to late 30’s, but mostly 20-23ish), culture (American, British, Irish), and free-time interests (meaningful conversation versus excessive drinking), it was a great time to meet other TA’s, find common interests or shared faith, gain a more practical idea of our classroom responsibilities (although the word of the week was that “it really depends on your school”), and see a bit of Graz.

About half of us stayed at a lovely Catholic retreat center — a quiet and peaceful setting with a beautiful garden tended by the nuns associated with the adjacent and typically picturesque church.  Our seminar was held at the castle of sorts where the rest of the group was staying.  Morning and afternoon lectures and smaller group meetings were supplemented by a walking tour of Graz led by local high school students and a morning teaching and observing in area schools.

Meals were a further cultural experience.  “Continental breakfast” takes on a new definition here in Austria, with a seemingly unending abundance of breads, cheeses, yogurt, muesli, etc.  And, I don’t think most of us were expecting 4-course lunches or unusual dishes like red cabbage and chestnuts wrapped up in pastry!

All in all, I came back to Vienna grateful for the week away and more ready to dive in tomorrow morning.  Although I’m still working out scheduling with my two supervising teachers in Mödling, it looks like I’ll spend 4 mornings a week at school and have the afternoons more or less free for piano practice and other commitments.

Friday I got back to Vienna just in time to go the Music Uni and pick up my completed student ID card.  Afterwards, standing outside on the university steps in the bright sunshine and cool breeze, I felt so happy and grateful.  I stood in about the same spot 13 months ago, with more questions about studying music in Vienna that I could have verbalized at the time.  Now, by God’s grace, the documents are in hand, semester fees paid, first meeting with my professor scheduled, and my teaching supervisors in Mödling willing to be flexible regarding scheduling.

Bis später (till later),

Eva

P.S. For those of you Knoxville friends who have put up with my determination not to add texting to my phone plan, you’ll be pleased to learn that I’ve finally given in and entered the modern age.  The humor of it hits me mid-stride as I navigate through a subway tunnel, trusting my peripheral vision and focused on my phone.  Although the text message takes shape with painstaking slowness, I do have the excuse that there’s an added twist — mentally hunting for vocabulary and finding that β and ä for the German equivalent of “I’ll be a bit late.”  Hey, this is kind of fun!

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9 Responses to Graz

  1. Ben says:

    Going to the opera for 4 euro (NZ$6) — that’s amazing? We just had a special evening at a live show with some friends from church (Gary and Margaret H), and it was NZ$45 each. 🙂

    I C UR NOW TXT REDY. WEV ENJYD HAVN NO CELL SINCE CUMN BAK 2 NZ.

  2. Franci says:

    So glad you went to the opera — do things like that as often as you can!

    We’re also grateful with you for your good time at the seminar, and for all the other things that seem to fall into place so well.

  3. jandpstone@comcast.net says:

    Thanks for the travelogue—–I always appreciate the visual.   Thanking God for His amazing grace and

    goodness in placing you in such a grand place.    I know you will maximize your time there with every

    imaginable activity—-all for the glory of God and your pleasure (which Father loves to do!)  

    I had a sweet, sweet time with your mom and Hannah in her lovely apt.   Wow.   God is indeed good.

    All the time.      Love, Phyllis

  4. hannahholder says:

    Hope your teaching has gone well this morning! We’ll look forward to hearing more about Axel and the students, the school tour and the train rides. Also, your first face-to-face visit with Dr. Kreutzberger.

    Can’t help contrasting this account with our last opera experience (which I enjoyed, but it was far different from this one) and our continental breakfasts (which I’ve rarely enjoyed…except on the Continent, of course). Speaking of breakfasts…Aaron and Sarah are moving about 1/2 a mile away and a progressive breakfast was mentioned. Doesn’t that sound good!

  5. Pamela says:

    Wow! What a rich and beautiful picture you’ve painted of your experience! (The food sounds amazing and now I’m hungry! 🙂 I’m living vicariously through you right now. 😉

  6. hilltopmania says:

    Hanging on every word and loving every minute your adventure, Eva. And sending you hugs from home!

  7. steph kuhn says:

    Can I just say that reading your blog makes me smile and really, honestly, most profoundly – thank Jesus that you are enjoying His gifts in you and others… blessings!!

  8. littlesiesta says:

    Love your colorful updates! One of our nieces (on the Haley side of the family) is in Madrid on a Fulbright scholarship. It is fun to trace your similar, but different experiences side-by-side. She also mentioned the “excessive drinking” crowd. How very sad!

  9. Laurel says:

    Thanks for keeping us up-to-date! Seminars at a castle and mixing with nuns sounds like a real cultural experience. I just (re-) watched “The Sound of Music” with our younger kids who hadn’t seen it before … so we can imagine some of the surroundings that you’ll be experiencing.

    I appreciated your comment about finally succumbing to texting; I’ve also resisted adding that to my list of technical skills. However, the tug (mostly to keep up with a growing number of teenagers who have an ever-widening base of activities) is growing stronger!

    Bis nachste Mal (I don’t know how to do the Umlauts on here either)
    Laurel

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