Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Whenever I arrived in Salzburg, stepped out of my cab and walked up to IK in the blizzarding snow, Caroline was waiting for me on the curb and she introduced herself to me as my roommate. She showed me the way to my room and I moved my things in and from that very first instant, we got along so well. We were literally inseparable within the first 24 hours, I think. Since she had already been there a semester, she taught me everything I needed to know and I had such an advantage being her roommate. I literally cannot imagine what my time in Salzburg would have been like if I hadn't lived in IK with her. When her parents came to visit Salzburg and my parents were in Salzburg at the same time, my dad asked Caroline's parents, "So was Caroline good friends with her former roommate, too?", to which Caroline's parents replied, "Oh, yeah, but NOTHING like Caroline and Jennifer".

The day I was supposed to come to the Embassy to meet the staff (the day I got lost and ended up circling my favorite falafel restaurant), I was sitting at the restaurant trying to figure out how to contact the Embassy and ask for directions when my phone vibrated. I received a text from an unknown number, which said, "Hi Jennifer this is Hannes from FCS Vienna. We were expecting you this morning and I am worried that you may be lost or unable to find us. Please let me know if you are okay". I responded right away and said, "Hi! Yes, I am near the Rathaus, could you tell me exactly how to find the building?". He replied immediately with very specific directions, then sent another text and told me he'd ride his bike to come meet me and then walk me back. I ended up finding the street and then he rode his bike to the street corner and met me and walked me to the Embassy and gave me a tour. That day was just an orientation day and I started work the following Monday.

On that Monday, I got set up at my computer (which was in a different room from Hannes -- the original set up had us in different offices, which lasted for about... 2 days). Using the office chat system, he messaged me every half hour or so to make sure I was doing okay, asking if I needed help, etc. They quickly moved my desk into Hannes' office and sharing the same office made work so much fun. They began to send us together on assignments because they knew that we got along so well. For instance, Robee would say, "We need more of the Ambassador's stationary. Can you guys go get it? We need both of you to go because one person needs to carry the paper and the other needs to carry the envelopes". or Manfred would send us somewhere and say, "Hannes, take Jennifer to make sure she knows where it is" even though I had been there 50 times already. They even let us take our lunch breaks together. The staff here is so laid back and it makes work so much fun.

Anyway, Hannes and I were instantly close and we would laugh so much while working (note: we still completed all of our assignments!). I think that has to be what I will remember the most from our 2 months together -- the amount of laughter. I always say that Maddie's and my friendship is 99% laughter and I think I could say the same for me and Hannes. We have the exact same sense of humor, which is funny because I've found that a lot of Germans/Austrians' sense of humor somewhat clashes with mine.

Hannes helped me out so much and taught me everything I needed to know about how to complete each task and how to navigate the computer system and we worked so well together. I helped him with his English and he helped me with my German, which was nice since we both translate documents a lot. If we ever worked on a project together, he would always give me full credit in staff meetings (though I would, of course, clarify that it was a joint effort). He had been working here since March and I arrived in May. When I arrived, I replaced an intern who had been working since January and spent 2 months working with Hannes. Hannes added me as a friend on Facebook as soon as they told him I'd be replacing his colleague (which was in March or April). He even sent me a couple of Facebook messages asking if I had any questions about the internship. I actually completely forgot to reply and never even communicated with him until responding to his text the day I couldn't find the building.

Robee told me a few days ago that on that day when I couldn't find the building, Hannes was so worried about me and asked her every few minutes, "Has she called? Do you think she needs help?". I always wondered how he had my phone number and Robee told me they were all teasing him and calling him a stalker because he went to extreme lengths to get it, or something. I asked Robee if he was such good friends with the former intern and she said, "Mmmm kind of, but nothing like you guys!". It was a really similiar feeling (the "Caroline feeling"), because the first day I met Hannes I knew I would love my internship and love working with him. I really can't imagine what it would have been like without him!

As of today, Hannes' internship is over and he is moving to New York for a 5 year graduate program, in which he will receive his Masters and PhD. It's ironic that he's moving to my country and I'm moving to his (Bavaria). Our boss gave him an award and we had a going away party for him yesterday. Everyone is truly sad to see him go and the atmosphere is a little depressing around here since our small team is so close. Robee and Manfred and I are especially sad! We were a little family. On the bright side, a new intern (an Austrian girl) replaces him tomorrow so I will get to be the one to welcome here and show her around. I hope I am as helpful and hospitable to her as Hannes was to me... I have already been in correspondance with her and I can't wait to meet her.

This means that my internship is halfway over; I can't believe how fast time is flying. I really can't believe that in 2 months, I'll move to a whole new place and start a whole new life there. This feeling is all too familiar, but I'd really like time to stand still so that I can stay in Vienna awhile longer... I've been thinking a lot lately about how nice it will be to move to a place and not have a deadline looming in the future; to know that I am staying in that area for an indefinite amount of time. If anybody figures out how to stop time, let me know. Or, even better, let me know how to go back in time (specifically to 2009). I'm still trying to figure that one out. ;)


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

apart from explaining the above photo,
i will just begin this neat little story.
i got sick a few days ago.
not sick-sick,
just sick.

my throat hurt so bad that i couldn't sleep. i would wake up in the middle of the night unable to breathe because i couldn't breathe through my nose and it hurt my throat to breath through my mouth. (and i am the world's heaviest sleeper. i mean, borderline narcoleptic. flashback: julie and sally complaining about not having slept at all thanks to the 5 hour lightning/thunder/hailstorm and me saying, "it rained last night?")

apart from not sleeping/not breathing, i've been sneezing non-stop. i think it's because i'm dog-sitting as well as house-sitting (all in one house) and i might be allergic to the dog. as i am most dogs....

anyway, i went to lunch with robee and hannes the other day and i asked if we could stop at the apotheke on the way back to work. getting a prescription works a little bit different here -- sort of like the minute clinic at CVS, i suppose.  robee explained my symptons to the pharmacist, who then gave me the appropriate medicine and told me what dosage to take 3 times a day.

so i took it yesterday afternoon and it helped a lot. my throat felt a lot better, instantly. then i took it at night and i fell asleep approximately 30 seconds after swallowing. it helped so much. i slept a full 8 hours, but when i woke up i was more tired than i have been in a long, long time.

i didn't have time to take it before work, because i had slept through both alarms (i was so tired). i made it to work on time and then proceeded to take my morning's dosage. this means that i've taken 3 dosages. shortly after taking the morning dosage, i looked at hannes and said, "i am so tired. i mean, really, really tired". i was having trouble concentrating and i just wanted to go to sleep. i asked him, "do you think this isn't non-drowsy?" (the pharmacist said it was non-drowsy).

i handed hannes the bottle and he said, "well i don't think it should be half empty in less than 24 hours..." and i said, "oh my gosh, have i been taking too much?"

come to find out, i had been taking twice as much. which, in my defense, is easy to do when you're reading the instructions in a language that is not your own.

it wasn't enough to really harm me, and for that reason, hannes thought it was hysterical and proceeded to publicize the incident to manfred and robee, who kept walking by my office and asking, "are you still drunk?". i ended up drinking a lot of water and eating a rather large lunch and then all was right with the world and i had a very productive and successful work day.

Needless to say, I am taking the correct dosage now.
And I am a repsondible individual.
I promise.

Department lunch

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I was treated to a free lunch yesterday! Everyone in the Department got to take a break and we walked down the street to a little Italian place. I love our Department so much. The lunch break ended up lasting, like, 3 hours. I kept getting paranoid that I was going to get in trouble for taking such a long lunch break. Then I would realize that my boss was sitting 2 seats away and he was taking just as long of a break. One thing I love about this job is how much I laugh. This is not to say that I don't do my work or get my assignments done. I definitely do. But I laugh so much. I honestly don't know if there has been a day that I wasn't laughing so hard I was crying. Everyone in our Department has so much fun. On this particular lunch event, Manfred had the whole table in stitches. Hannes and I could not look at each other during the entire lunch because we would burst into hysterics (sometimes Manfred doesn't know he's funny and it confuses him if you laugh at him). I'm going to be so sad to leave this team. I love them!

Oh, Manfred.

I received a package from my mom last week, which contained an assortment of things...including chocolates (M&M's, Reese's Pieces, etc.). Manfred is a self-diagnosed "chocaholic." In fact, he has said a time or two, "I don't smoke and I don't do drugs but I do eat chocolate"...and eat it he does.
He loves it.

I worked late one day along with 2 of my co-workers and I let them each have some chocolate from the box my mom sent. Manfred wasn't there and I knew he would be sad to have missed out, so I left some on his desk. The next morning, he walked in the door to my office and said, "This chocolate, is it yours? Where did it come from, did you bring it?". I said, "My mom sent it". He said, "Your mom sent chocolate for everybody?" and I said, "Well, she sent it to me and I thought I would share it". He asked me, "And where did she find these chocolates?" to which I replied, "I don't know....the store?" And he said, "This is so nice of her! I'm going to tell the others it's from your mom". I thought it was weird that he was going to tell "the others", but it's Manfred, so....I just shrugged it off. A few minutes later I hear Marta yell, "That is not from Jennifer's mom! I brought those chocolates!" I rushed out of my office because I realized there had to have been a misunderstanding. Come to find out, Marta had set a large amount of Euro Chocolate Bars on the table in the entry hall of our Department (fitting for our Department). I quickly said, "No, Manfred, those are not from my mom! The M&M's were from my mom, that's all." And he said "Oh, I forgot about those M&M's. I ate them in less than 2 minutes. Tell her thank you." And then he walked into his office and shut the door behind him.

(but for a few minutes, until Marta clarified, everyone in our office thought my Mom had sent these ^^^)

friends in graz

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I didn't have a place to stay last weekend (house-sitting sometimes leaves you homeless when you're in between jobs), so I went to Graz to see friends. I'm so thankful to have great friends within a short distance (2.5 hour train ride). The first time I ever went to Graz, I thought, "Wait...why did I come here?". I wasn't obsessed with it, by any means. I thought I'd give Graz a second chance, though. This trip was particularly memorable because of the following:

1. I spent the majority of my time with Pierce, Steffi and Megan.
2. Pierce, Steffi and I went to the Schlossberg and walked around the top of the mountain and took some great photos which I will post soon.
3. We ate at an amazing Italian restaurant; so amazing that I considered ordering another meal after I finished the 1st one.
4. I burned my tongue on garlic soup at said Italian restaurant, but the soup was so good that I didn't care.
5. Pierce and I ate a lot of cookies throughout the weekend...a lot, a lot.
6. I met all of their friends at an Erasmus party on Saturday night, many of whom were Spanish boys... and every one of them made me miss Sergi and Roman so much.
7. At the same party, Pierce looked at my black sequins jacket and asked me, in complete sincerity, if it was made of fish scales.
8. We watched the Australian - Ghana game on a big screen and I realized I love the World Cup.
9. It rained a lot.
10. A bunch of Erasmus students cooked dinner with us on Saturday night and I realized that their study abroad semester is about to end....there was an unspoken sadness amongst the group and it brought back so many memories in the bittersweetest of ways.


Naschmarkt: where I will be spending every Saturday morning for the rest of the summer.

So many kinds of hummus, so many vegetables, so much fruit (chocolate covered and non-chocolate covered), so many different types of trail mix (my favorite).

So many fresh-pressed fruit juices (with no sugar added).

Various types of Mediterranean cousine, including falafel, of course.

I sampled a little of everything, and loved every bit of it.

It's my new Saturday morning tradition.

If you're in Vienna on a Saturday morning, looking for something to do, you must go.

it happened. i love vienna.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Slow down you crazy child
You're so ambitious for a juvenile
But then if you're so smart tell me
Why are you still so afraid?
Where's the fire, what's the hurry about?
You better cool it off before you burn it out
You've got so much to do
And only so many hours in a day

But you know that when the truth is told
That you can get what you want
Or you can just get old
You're gonna kick off before you even get halfway through
When will you realize? Vienna waits for you.

(Thanks for writing that for me, Billy Joel.)
During the semester in between Salzburg and Vienna,
I listened to this song all the time
because I missed Austria,
I missed my life,
I missed my friends,
I missed being able to eat and sleep
(thanks, Fulbright)
and I just wanted to go back.
At the time, I didn't realize I would be back so soon --
like, four-months-later soon.

And then everything happened.
And I'm back.
And I still can't believe.
And I'm here.
And I love Vienna.
And it took me awhile to get to this point,
because it's not Salzburg,
but I love it.
And I'm so glad I'm here.

The rain came back...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

...and it wasn't pretty.

When Steffi was here last weekend,
the weather was so HOT.
We were going out on Saturday night
to watch the USA-England game
at a pub with a big screen and outdoor tables.
When we were waiting for the bus,
we looked like drowned rats,
soaked in sweat.

Then a storm hit,
trees fell down,
and we felt like we were in a tornado,
so we stayed in the U-Bahn station for a few minutes,
hoping it would pass.
Well, it didn't pass,
so we ran through the rain
and arrived at our destination looking like drowned rats
soaked with sweat and rain.

It has rained every day since.
No more sunshine.
Oh well.
I'm really putting that new raincoat to use.
Maybe I should buy an umbrella?
That seems like a good idea....

The Vienna Opera House

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Steffi (from Graz) came to visit me in Vienna this weekend. I had put in some extra hours at work last week and was planning on leaving an hour early on Friday to meet up with her. Well.....as it usually happens, at about 4:02 on Friday afternoon I received a number of assignments that needed to be completed asap. I would complain about this except that I love my job too much to care. So, I called Steffi and told her I'd be late and she was fine with that so I met her a little after 5:00.

We went to my apartment, I changed out of my "professional attire" and we headed to the Opera House to buy tickets. That's right, the same Opera House with bees on the roof. Oh and remember when it rained every day for weeks and weeks? Well, quite recently it decided to stop raining and start being ridiculously, unbearably, disgustingly, wretchedly hot hot hot.

We're talking, like, 100+ degrees Fahrenheit and so, so humid. Yes, as a matter of fact I am from Oklahoma and no, this should not phase me. The reason it phases me, however, is because I forget that I'm no longer living in the Alps, where humidity doesn't exist and where 82 degrees is as hot as it gets. (This is also known as perfection. But I won't get even get into that.)

The heat factor is important to this story because air conditioning does not exist in Austria...or most of Europe, for that matter, and during the opera (which was 3 euro each for the Standing Room Only balcony ticket), I looked down after about, oh, 2 minutes of Madame Butterfly and realized that the sweat was just rolling off of me....and through my shirt.

So, moral of the story: It was hot. The Opera House was beautiful. We lasted about 20 minutes and then I realized, "Oh. I don't actually like operas and I might have a heat stroke and I only paid 3 euro for this ticket so let's just go to McDonald's instead and get a milkshake."  So that's what we did. Great Friday night. Really. It was.

Flashback to London

Monday, June 14, 2010

This time last year, Jenny and I were in London.
The story can, of course, be found here.

I recently discovered this video on my USB drive.
I miss Jenny
and I miss our European adventures together.
It was a really incredible 3 weeks of my life!

Lindsay is also in the video,
which makes me miss her so much...
as if I didn't already.
She is, quite possibly,
the world's best travel partner.

...Jenny isn't so bad herself.


overnight trains.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

When Pierce isn't booking overnight train compartments (complete with beds),
I book the kind that look like this:There are 6 in a compartment
(2 rows of 3 seats which face each other).
You can recline them
and then 2 chairs connect and make one bed.
Well, if there are 6 people in the compartment...
then this really doesn't matter.
Because when you recline them,
if you are 5' 10'',
then you're too tall to sleep comfortably.
I have had some horrific
overnight train experiences.
Remember this?

When I took the overnight train to Pisa
to meet Peff a couple of weeks ago,
I found my assigned compartment,
and much to my surprise,
there were only 2 people inside:
a very pleasant Eastern European couple.
I had packed a 2 lb. bag of trail mix for the ride
and had Season 6 of Lost ready to go on my iTunes.

It was a completely wonderful experience.
And I was just downright shocked by that.
The couple was totally normal.
We each had our own "bed".
And I was fully rested when I awoke.

The train ride back from Pisa was a different story...
There were 6 people.
It was horribly cramped
and disgustingly hot.
But then halfway through the train ride
2 of the girls got off a stop
and so I got a "bed" to myself.

1 lb. of trail mix on the way there,
1 lb. on the way home.
My dream life.

more traveling, more eating (berlin)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pierce wanted to go to Berlin. I did not.
Pierce had never been to Berlin. I had.
Pierce convinced me to accompany him.
The convincing involved him going to the train station
and buying my tickets for me.
He didn't have to worry about a ticket for himself
because he has a Eurrail pass
(I'm thinking about buying my 3rd Eurrail
for a trip I'm taking later on this summer).

Anyway, I had a 4 day weekend last week,
which was a good opportunity to travel.
(All these Austrian holidays really come in handy
when you are like to travel as much as I do.)
So after work on Wednesday,
I went to the Vienna train station
and met Pierce.

We went back to my apartment,
where I packed my bag for the weekend
and we ate Ravioli with Pesto.

We then took the overnight train to Berlin and
- surprise! -
stayed in a sleeper car.
Yes, that's right,
a compartment with beds.
(as opposed to sitting up all night,
which is what I'm so accustomed to doing).
When I found out Pierce had reserved it for us
I was immediately fine with my decision to go to Berlin.
We were so excited when we found our compartment
that we didn't even care we were too tall to fully sit up
(we both had top bunks).
Seriously, you'd think I had never slept in a bed before.
I was just so excited to not be sitting up all night.
I thanked Pierce a dozen times....
very appreciative that he likes to travel in the lap of luxury,
as opposed to choosing the cheapest option (like me).

Since the top bunks weren't really working out for us,
we watched season 6 of LOST on the couch below,
(where we could sit up fully)
because, at that point,
I hadn't yet finished the series.
It was definitely the best overnight train experience
of my life!
(And I've had quite a few overnight train experiences).

When we woke up, we were in Berlin!
We went to our hostel, unpacked, changed clothes,
and headed straight for the Berlin wall.
One of my favorite things about the wall,
is that it's like a free, open-air art museum
and you can spend however long you want there.
My experience at the wall was different from last time
because last semester I took History of Germany post-1949
and studied the wall in depth.

Little known fact:
there is a beach on the other side of the Berlin wall.
I went with Caroline
and I wouldn't stop talking about on the train ride there.
I made Pierce go with me
and it was fun,
although we didn't spent 3+ hours there
like Caroline and I did.
...more like 30 - 45 minutes.
But it was a great intro. to Berlin.
Oh, I forgot.
Before we went to the wall
I insisted that we eat burritos.
There was this place...
a burrito place...
that Caroline and I discovered last year....
and I would be lying if I said I haven't thought about it
dozens of times in the past year.
(thought about it/dreamed about it...same thing)
I googled: "Berlin burrito"
and, luckily, recognized the location enough
to discern which one it was on Google maps.
Pierce and I were there in no time at all
and I enjoyed their signature lime tofu burrito,
which is soooooo delicious.

In related news, isn't this a great photo (below)
that Pierce took of the Bundestag/German flag?

Another little known fact:
near the Bundestag
(and inside the train station)
one can find my favorite cookie store in Europe:
Millie's cookies.
Did you know cookies are impossible to find in Europe?
They are.
Pierce was telling me he knows some people in Graz
who have never seen a cookie before.
What. A. Terrible. Life.
Over the course of 3 days in Berlin,
we may or may not have eaten a dozen cookies.
Do I feel bad about this?
(I promise I haven't become morbidly obese
since moving back here).
My favorites were the raspberry/white chocolate
and the cherry oatmeal.
So. Good.
Also in the train station,
was a Dunkin Donuts.
Any time I'm in Berlin,
I have a very strong desire to eat donuts.
A lot of donuts.
Similar to the cookies,
I may have eaten 12 donuts total
over the course our 3 days in Berlin.
Pierce ate some too....
but mostly he just ordered giant muffins and coffee.
Eating donuts always reminds me
of the kind my mom would buy me any time I was sick.
(My favorites are still glazed&strawberry frosted!)
To counteract all the cookies and donuts, we walked.
A lot.
A lot, a lot.
Some places we saw on our walking tour of the city:

The Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe. ^^
The parking lot, under which lies the remains of Hitler's bunker.
Which, as you know, is the place where he committed suicide.
If you haven't seen Der Untergang, you should.
(Caroline, I know you have).

So, do you want to know what else we ate?
Well, one night for dinner,
we each ate a giant pizza the size of an inner tube.
And the next night,
We ordered this ravioli and Mediterranean dish (below).

We had 10 minutes before taking the U-bahn back to our hostel
.....so, we (I) got dessert
in the form of this Ritter bar:
I could only eat half of it,
(apparently, it is possible for me to be full),
but it was great and,
believe it or not,
my first Ritter since being back here!
Also worth mentioning:
I did not get a hair cut while in Berlin.
But Lord knows I needed one!
See: the above photo for further reference.

During our train back to Vienna,
(day train this time -- not overnight),
Pierce had a near emergency.
Our train passed through the Czech Republic
and Pierce's Eurrail is only valid in:
Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
This could have been very problematic.
My ticket was fine, but his Eurrail just wouldn't cut it.
The ticket woman told him he could buy a ticket
right there on the train,
and we thought this would be just fine,
until we realized the ticket was 17 euro
and I had no euro
and he had 10.
Then the woman pressed some buttons
into her little, portable ticket machine
and said, "10 euro, please'.
Pierce wanted to hug her.
I wanted to hug her.
She was so nice.

We had a stop in Breclav (Czech),
where we only had 5 minutes to catch our next train
which would take us straight to Vienna.
Our train was late
and I was convinced we wouldn't make it,
since 5 minutes of connection time
was already cutting it close
and now we had less than 2.
Turns out, our train to Vienna was
Twenty whole minutes!
This meant that I could eat!
I withdrew 20 Czech Kronen (10 euro)
from the ATM in the station
and then realized I had to spend every bit of that
because I am not planning on returning to the Czech
for a long time.
So Pierce and I went on a shopping spree
and bought lots of treats
(and of course, water)
and then had a compartment to ourselves for the train ride back.
We watched You've Got Mail
and it wasn't even my idea!

I am easy to please,
so this trip was near perfection.
Thanks Pierce!

pisa with peff: part 2

Monday, June 7, 2010

After spending the first day in Italy touring Cinque Terre,
we had a full day to explore Pisa.The weather was beautiful!

We started out with a not-so-great breakfast
in a semi-shabby cafe...
....but then made up for it by gelato immediately afterward
(yeah, it was 11:00 in the morning, the perfect time for gelato).
I want that scooter.

Peff and I got matching fedoras.
And we wore them all around Pisa
just to look as touristy as we could.
Peff, modeling his fedora in front of the Tower.
Just another pizza....nothing unusual.
We played another game of Tick at dinner.
I won, despite the fact that the waiter stood over my shoulder
and told Peff which cards I had.
Not. Funny.

It was so nice to experience the sunshine after all that Vienna rain!
Of course a little bruschetta is necessary every now and then.
I made a list of sights to see in Pisa
and the botanical gardens made the cut.
It kind of reminded me of the mansion in Sunset Boulevard....
Another sight on my list was this park
that looks like something out of The Lion King
(so, naturally, I wanted to go).
On the way to the park, though,
we got distracted by a grocery store
and ended up buying food/drinks for a picnic.
We sat in front of the Tower and picnic-ed and played yet another game of Tick.
Of course the picnic included grapes, Brie cheese, onion focaccia, etc., etc.
Our picnic location.
And of course Bueno bars were part of the picnic as well.
Our view from the shade.

This wall also made my list of things to see.
Peff thought it was pointless,
but I like it.
He was too busy looking at rocks,
trying to determine what kind each one was.
So many churches.
You can't tell from the photograph,
but this one was tiny.
Pisa is so small and really easy to navigate
(when you're not looking for Nino Pisano).

Just outside of this church we watched a group of little Italian boys playing futbol.

A pick-up Futbol game,
a Catholic church,
and a Vespa.
How much more "Italian" can you get.

Thanks, Pisa, I don't hate Italy so much after visiting you!