My Time Left

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Bit Slack...

Sorry to not have posted for an age! There's been so much going on here and I have so little time left... But alas, finally here is one!

So I think we left off still in the holidays... Well the rest of the days for me were pretty quiet, just hanging around, working on my history project. And Chrissi left on the Friday (January 8th) so that was really sad... :/ She was the first person that I had to say goodbye to!

Then was the first week back at school... It wasn't that great, I was having sleeping problems, Constanze was sick and she still hadn't received her host family... But more about that later... I managed to present my history project (albeit a couple of days later due to oversleeping...) and I thought it went quite well. It wasn't error free or anything, but my history teacher said that I'd get a good grade from him so I was pleased about that!

Constanze left on the Friday... It was quite sad really, now I'm alone in the house! Well, with Barbara and Rudolf of course, but still. I've been catching up with Conny quite a bit though which has been nice. :) But so Constanze was getting really nervous, Thursday morning she still hadn't received her host family and she was supposed to be flying the next morning... They told her that if she hadn't got it by 6 that night then she wouldn't be going until a few days later. Apparently they had the family and everything, but Americans are so bureaucratic that they couldn't tell her the family until they'd done all these accepting processy things... Plain stupid if you ask me. So it gets to 6 and the guy from AFS doesn't call... Time keeps going... He finally calls at 8.30, tells her she's not going to Michigan like she thought, but instead to South Carolina. And no, they still haven't been able to send the host family information. GR! Poor Constanze, I mean I thought that it really was too much to expect her to take. In the end, AFS did send her the family info at like 10pm the night before, so you know, only 6 hours before she had to be at the airport... No pressure... I think what helped was seeing the host family information and then her host mum called and talked to Barbara for about half an hour so she felt happier about going. But I found it really extreme timing.

But anyways, the next night I was off to a ball (it's crazy here, some girls in my class asked me if I wanted to come to a ball on Thursday, got tickets and everything and it was on the Saturday night! Slightly different to in NZ...) with some girls from my year and I had a really good time. It was at a school which was a 10 minute walk from where I live so I walked there and back with Julia, a girl who lives like a street away from me and Lea who was staying at her house. I'm pretty sure that no one just walked to the WGC ball... I think I'm definitely going to miss this sort of thing!

Then on Monday we had the AFS Stammtisch and it was really cool like always, but also sad... And kinda funny... Nick brought a flag with him so that everyone could sign it and, of course, sharpies to sign it with. What we didn't realize, was that signing it on the table wasn't really a good idea... So after half an hour and lots of soap, toilet paper and finally Nick's version of a belt sander (coasters and salt...) we managed to get it all off! It was however, sad saying goodbye to some people that I'll probably never see again... Of course it's a part of the life that I chose, choosing to come here, but it is still sad meeting all these great people and having to say goodbye... :(

On Tuesday I hung out with this other AFS guy and we did some German practice, shopping etc... Then Wednesday was dance course again. Only 4 guys, what a joke! And you'd think, when only 4 guys turn up but 13 girls, some of the girls would dance with each other so that you're not all sitting down... But apparently my dance teacher would rather that 9 of us sit down and twiddle our thumbs rather than dancing! Crazy... Still a good laugh though.

Then Thursday was really cool, I went to a musical with Conny-"Tanz der Vampire" (dance of the vampires). It was so well done, all the usher type people were wearing capes, the music was all spooky... The actors would roam up and down the aisles whilst coming in and out and one time there was a whole procession of them and they all turned and scared the people sitting opposite them! Quite a laugh really. And the singing and costumes were totally amazing, it was so cool.

Then Friday I went and stayed at Anna's and met her new family. They were really nice but the dog was slightly scary... He was like really big and would always jump up... I must say, I do think I prefer Fergus, the little fox terrier next door in NZ! But we had a laugh, like we always do and stayed up ages talking... Plus figured out a hairstyle for my ball next weekend and I did her hair for her ball last night!

So, a lot has been happening and I'm pretty sure it's only going to get more chaotic in these last 2 and a half weeks... Bring it on!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Christmas, New Year's, Bratislava and Budapest

It hasn't been that long but a lot sure has happened! So let's see, start from the beginning...

Christmas was definitely different but cool. So sleep in till about 10.30/11, everything's very relaxed. Go downstairs too late for breakfast but lunch will be soon anyway. Conny and Constanze have already started decorating the tree so I join in and help them. And the tree is seriously massive, 7-8m! It took ages to set it up the night before. We need a ladder to get decorations to the top! So this goes on for a couple of hours and then it's time for lunch, but nothing too big because lunch isn't time for the 'big meal'. Then we have a couple more hours of tree decorating, hanging out and for a lot of people it's still time to wrap presents!

Then at about 6.30pm we all bring presents down and come down for dinner. Salmon for everyone (except Constanze and me because we don't like it! So we eat Wiener Schnitzel instead), potato croquette thingies, and salad and vegetables etc. After our good feed, Barbara and Rudolf light the candles on the tree and we all stand around and THEN we say "Frohe Weihnachten!". So that I find a bit strange, how it's just the night that's Christmas. But then, of course, it's time for presents!

I got a lot of presents from everyone actually, it was really cool. The presents from my parents arrived the day before, just in time, and my host parents gave me some really cool, but of course small and light things! I got presents from my nana and granddad, from my host nana and granddad, from my sister, from my host sisters and from Anna! :D Very spoilt, thank you to everyone.

Then we went to Church at 10pm and then had a massive family Skype with all of my host family and all of my family in Tauranga. Very entertaining!

Then on the 27th we went to the Oma's in Carinthia. So we spend the morning packing and getting ready and everything, and we manage to get everything in the car, and Rudolf's been driving around the whole morning trying to buy something to attach the skis to the roof because they forgot that they can't put the box thing on the roof of the new car and then can't find the keys for the box. So he manages to find a solution and we get on our way with the skis strapped to the roof. We're about 20 minutes in and just getting on the autobahn and we get up to 120kmph (legal speed limit on the autobahn! :O) and discover that the new ski attachment makes a loud, extremely high-pitched whistling noise. We still have 4 hours to Carinthia. So, we detour to the next rest stop and try to fix the problem. Now, without the ski poles, it is a bit quieter. So what we ended up doing was taking an hour longer to get to Carinthia and only going 100kmph because at that speed the whistling was bearable!

But we got there in the end and everything was fine and I met the Oma and she was really nice and everything was good. Then the next day we went skiing. Well, I can't ski, so Barbara and I went cross-country skiing (she can't ski very well either and doesn't like it). One of the most tiring things I've ever done! It's kinda like rollerblading with massive bloody skis strapped to your feet. And a good part of the track was uphill. I think we definitely deserved the Wiener Schnitzel for lunch. Then after lunch we went to the hot pools and it was really nice and relaxing. Then we go home and have dinner. Wiener Schnitzel again! We didn't want to say anything because she'd obviously gone to a lot of work making it for us, but needless to say, I don't think I'll be needing to eat Wiener Schnitzel again for a while!

We left the next day and went through Graz which was really cool, a really nice city. Then, that Friday was New Year's. Partay! Stefan (from Iceland), Sarah (from America) and Anna came to my place and we had a party for 4! It was really nice to just have a small amount of people and we still managed to have a good time and light the fireworks that Stefan brought with him!

Then on the third was the start of the two countries in one day adventure with Anna and Nick. Monday I was up at 6.30 and at the train station in Vienna at 8.30 to take the train to Bratislava. Thanks to my carefully researched plan we were at Aupark (the biggest shopping centre there) at 11.30 and started off the day with a bit of retail therapy. We then moved on to the bobsledding earlier than planned, but after not actually being able to find the place, we went to a market instead that we saw from the bus where Nick bought a hat for
€2 and Anna a handbag for €17. Then we foraged further into the city and specifically into the old city where we saw all the sights of Bratislava and went into countless tourist shops. Nick was complaining to me about how Bratislava thought that they were good enough to take credit for Mozart in one of the shops and this Australian guy standing near by goes, "yeah, that chap seems to be everywhere, doesn't he?" and we end up having a 5 minute conversation with an Australian guy and his wife on the other side of the world! Definitely a small world.
We manage to find our way back to the train station in time for the train and "spin yarns" the entire way back, much to the entertainment on the English group of three young people sitting directly opposite us! We all stayed the night in Vienna because the next day...
We got up at 5.45. Well I did. Nick was 5.30 because he's crazy and has like 10 pieces of toast for breakfast, and Anna was 6.15 because she didn't wake up till then... So after a mad dash we were out of the house at 6.30 and in time for the 7.09 train to Budapest. Cruelly early! But after 3 hours we finally arrive and as soon as we get off I realize that I've left the plan for the day on the train. So at the money exchange place (they use Hungarian Forinths-so cool! It was 220 forinths for 1 euro...) we also asked for a map and decided to wing it. We managed to find the metro okay, and it actually looked quite nice, despite being eastern Europe. And then the metro pulls up. It's seriously a tin can on wheels going about 100km an hour! It was actually quite funny. But we get to the shopping street in one piece and again start our attack on the tourist shops. We actually did a hell of a lot of walking in Budapest because we had the map and weren't entirely sure on the public transport lines.
So we walked all over the city checking out all the sights and old buildings, but after seeing the parliament Anna and I had really sore feet so we decided to take the tram back into the city and check out a market we had seen earlier. So we bought the tickets we thought that we needed and it was great to sit down. What we didn't realize was that they were the tickets for the metro and not for the trams, and having the worst luck in the world, we go through a ticket check and they inform us that we have the wrong tickets. So the short of it is, if we pay the fine then it's only 6000. Each. Now remember, that is actually only €25. But, being nearly the end of the two days, we don't have enough left between us. Luckily the controller guy saw that we really didn't know and we didn't have enough cash on us so we just paid for two people. After that, we decided to walk the whole way back to the train station and managed to scrape enough for dinner from the money that he didn't take from us!
So although it was really unfortunate, and seemed really unfair to us, not being able to speak Hungarian and all, we didn't let it ruin the day and looked upon it as an experience of being on exchange!
So a very eventful last two weeks, and unfortunately it's back to school on Monday... I'm off to enjoy the holidays while they last!
Till next time!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Christmas Eve of Christmas Eve

First of all, I'm really sorry! I've been so busy this week and on Sunday I had to finish this massive English project... But I will tell all now.

So Monday and Tuesday last week were really quite unspectacular. Except I found out that Alex had to have an operation. Luckily all went well! But that comes later.

Then Wednesday I had dance class like always and it was the last one of the beginner course and the second to last one of the year. We learnt the basic step of disco fox and practised heaps of others and also did this turn-y thing that looked really complicated but actually wasn't too bad for the tango.

Then Thursday was really sad because it was like a little leaving party in Vienna for Flore... :'( She's already back in Belgium and will be there for 10 days before flying to Ireland for 5 months. The time has gone so fast! I can't believe it's nearly Christmas, it's so crazy. Even though we didn't do that much it was still cool to hang out and plus we went to the Rathaus Christkindlmarkt which was awesome! There are these Christmas markets all over Vienna and it was my first one and it was really cool. And on Friday I went to the one at Schönbrun with Chrissi and Flo. It was nice as well, but apparently it's more for "cultural tourists" so it wasn't as big or impressive as the one at the Rathaus.

Then on Saturday was Kekse backen Tag with AFS! First of all I went to Constanze's English lesson and enthralled them with a sort of presentation on NZ. But seriously, they all seemed to be really interested and everyone here finds it so weird that Christmas is hot in NZ! I find it weird that it's cold here... I actually can't believe that tomorrow is Christmas... It shouldn't be this cold! Plus there's way too much school... I should've had a month free but I don't even get a day before! Now that is weird. But anyways, the biscuit baking was cool and it was so relaxed and nice to just hang out the whole day. Then that night we went out punschen (read earlier... drinking punch, but it's warm and not like the gross party kind but actually nice) in Baden and we were meant to stay like 3 hours, or that was the plan, but it was so cold that everyone only stayed like an hour and a half and by then Anna and I were frozen. And she was even wearing my gloves as well. Bit of a Tauranga softie...

Saturday night she stayed the night at mine and then on Sunday we just hung out around the house, slept and such. Quite a restful weekend really.

Then on Monday we had the Stammtisch again. There were quite a few people there this time and it was really fun to see all the people that you don't see very often and for everyone to just hang out and chat.

Then Tuesday... First of all, I made Christmas mince pies, from scratch, without a food processor, the mince and the dough and they taste REALLY GOOD! Whooo! I was quite proud of myself because I thought that they would possibly by horrible or at least different... But in reality not so different from Nana's! (Although, of course, not as good Nana. :D) Then I played Monopoly with Constanze and I felt really bad because I totally bankrupt her. Even though I didn't buy any of her properties, I've just got a head for business... Well. Kind of.

Then last night I went shopping in Vienna afterschool for a few last-minute Christmas presents and managed to get everything (I hope...) so I'm all set for tomorrow! And then I had dance class and it was the first week of the new course (bronze)... Originally there must've been at least 30 of us and space was always really tight. Now... There were 7 boys who were actually taking the class and 3 who were kinda like assistants, (that was really embarrassing, I just had to look up how to spell that...) and they dance when there aren't enough guys. And there were 12 girls. Quite a dramatic reduction really! Evidently lots of people don't actually like it, they just go and do the beginner course because everyone else does... But seriously, it's such an awesome idea I don't see why not!

Then today I just had school and I still have P.E. this afternoon... Then I'm free, yay! Btw, the reason that this post is called the Christmas Eve of Christmas Eve is because here they celebrate Christmas at night on the 24th. Which is actually quite convenient because you guys will all be celebrating at the same time that I am! But it is interesting, and also that you have to wait the whole day for presents... Not sure if I'm going to like that... But yeah, today is technically the Christmas Eve of Christmas Eve!

So I shall update you all on the going-ons here after Christmas and hopefully give a detailed Christmas post on Sunday. Ciao for now!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Another Week Closer to the End...

Mini freak-out at the fact that I have less than two months! :O I feel like I've been away from home for a really long time but only here for like a few weeks... On the other hand, my German is way better than a few weeks. Yeah! :D

So Monday was a short day, as always thankfully! We finally moved on from the bloody alps in Geography... And actually it was really interesting. We're talking about society and families and things and so our homework was to find out about our family tree. It actually really interested me so I sent an email to Granddad straight away asking what he knew about Mum's side and got to work on finding out about Dad's side... And I found out so much. I knew that his grandparents on Grandpa's side had his middle name and Alex's middle name (Estelle and Allan Kincaid) and when I googled them I managed to find her mother as well which was really cool. But then, when I googled her and her husband (Alexina Boulanger and Octave Brousseau) I managed to find our family going back to the 1600's! Seriously, starting from Andre Pepin who was born in 1600. It was so awesome. And even more awesome is the fact that we have French-Canadian roots. It was seriously exciting and I'm attaching the link of the family tree for any inquisitive family members! :)

Then on Tuesday it had rained during the night and then frozen. So that meant, the paths were incredibly icy! Luckily I left really early, because it took about half an hour to get to school whereas it's usually a 20 minute walk... Plus I nearly fell over about 10 times... But all that aside, I finally got there and had a French test which I thought didn't go that well, but results come later in the post... Also on Tuesday, I dyed my hair... Brown... Not like super drastically purple or anything, but still a change when I've been blonde my whole life! It took my host family as well as me a while to get used to it! But it looks really cool and I really like the colour.

Then on Wednesday we had the day off school. A great advantage of living in a primarily Catholic nation is that you get all the Catholic holidays! It was the day of a Saint (Maria Empfängnis), so I got to sleep in and then have a really long Skype with Kate G which was really cool. Btw, Clementine we must Skype sometime. :P And then Nick, Noémie and Stefan came over and we went sledding (well, tried to. The snow wasn't the best, but still a laugh), had a snowball fight and made a snowman. So a cold but good day!

Then on Thursday it was Conny's graduation from University. Even though she's staying on to do her doctorate, it was still a big deal because she's finished with her master's and could theoretically go and get a decent job now. It was really cool (although one of the professors who spoke had a really really REALLY long speech... But still!), it was awesome to celebrate with her. And I got to meet Rudolf's two other brothers as well. The older one was a lot like Uncle Skip, man it was weird... An Austrian version of Skip, Dad! Haha.

Friday I got my results of the second French test back! Another top mark... :D Must be all that French blood... Haha.

Then Saturday I met up with Anna and Nick in Vienna and we had a great NZ Christmas shopping day together. It's weird, thinking about it, it's the first NZer day that we've had! It was great to catch up and just be around normal accents for a day... :P Plus I got pretty much all the presents that I need so very productive as well!

Then today not much, just hung around at home and ate goose for lunch... It was actually quite nice but an interesting experience... I tried not to think of little geese running around quacking... Well, now I have to go and study for my English test tomorrow... Like seriously, I have no idea how the American voting system works! Help from any American family?

Till next time!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Week of Snow

So. Experiences with the snow. It's snowed everyday for this past week which is totally freaking awesome! But, it means that the temperature hasn't been above about 3 degrees the entire time. I'm surprised I still have two hands really. Although, thanks to the gloves that Nana gave me, they've been very warmly protected!

Monday, not much happened, just the start of the snow fest... Except Rudolf drove me to school which was really nice, because it was snowing in the morning. And on Tuesday I had a French test with my 8th year class, and it actually went really well! I wasn't sure, because I never managed to finish one of the books and the other one I didn't read because I came into the class too late. But so I had three hours to write about one book and a bit of grammar and I found that I could actually do it quite well! So hopefully the mark reflects that...

Wednesday, more snow. And it was really cool, in history we were talking about like the Austrian first republic and the events leading up to WW2 and everything and we were reading this text. And the history teacher asked the class what the word "pragmatisch" meant. Now I know what you're all thinking, it looks extremely similar to an English word! But I had to think about it for a bit, how to explain it in German, and I thought for sure someone else would know. But no one did. So the teacher says, "none of you know what it means?" So I put up my hand and he bursts out laughing and says, "see, the exchange student from New Zealand knows what it means and you guys don't!" Never have I been happier for my extensive vocabulary in English than knowing that "pragmatisch" (pragmatic) means useful or practical. Then I made cookies that afternoon to celebrate. And because I wanted to, but you know.

Then on Friday I had a German test with my class of littlies who are about 10/11 years old. I had to write a story from a real life experience and it wasn't too hard so hopefully it went okay! And we got our results for the math test back. Total fail with 3 points from 48. Good thing Wellington Girls' doesn't need any marks... But then it was better in history and psychology, actually really interesting in psychology. First of all we were talking about the pre-frontal cortex of the brain and what it does (thanks dad! :D) and then we watched this movie on these people, "savants" who had all these freaky abilities. Like one guy could remember a number like 50 digits long and then do 60^33 in his head! And this other guy could be told any date and tell you the day of the week, and when it was a date on a day that he's been alive, also the weather and what he was doing... Crazy people! But, very interesting.

Then on Saturday we tried to do an AFS Flash Mob, but it failed because only 6 people showed up... And, the guy that was organising it with me was an hour late so we waited for ages in the cold! But we did actually end up having a good time and the other guy that came is a host brother of a friend of my host sister's... Kinda complicated... But so his host brother was at my house for my host sister's birthday party and so we went back together and had a really good time hanging out with 20 of Constanze's closest friends... But seriously, it was cool.

And then today was her birthday so we had a real family day and a nice lunch and cake and presents and it was really cool. Chrissi gave her some RTD's because she's legal to drink now... And I gave her a Converse shoe charm for her bracelet because she has like 4 pairs! I thought it was quite appropriate! And so another week, hopefully more snow, and I have Wednesday off, yay!

Till next week...