Oh my gosh, what a week! New school, new classmates, new rules to acclimate to; inclusive of getting my lazy butt out of bed at a responsible hour to get my day together. I’ve spent the entire week with stinging, smarting eyes trying to adjust to my new schedule and it has been ‘go, go, go’ from day one – but I’m loving it!
I finished all my required classes just before the summer break and picked up my piece of paper that declares me linguistically competent; yet, it was all rather anti-climatic and emotionally disappointing. When I first landed in Vienna, there was so much hustle & bustle to get registered with the government and acquire the massive amount of paperwork (i.e. income declaration, bank records, home address, credit check). Some of the things requested still stun me – “really, I’ve just moved here; how would could I possibly have a credit history with your banks?!” – so I paid €75 for a sheet of paper three-quarters empty that states exactly what I could’ve told them for free…gotta love beauracrazzy!
In any event, with everything gathered, I received my residence card and signed a contract with the Austrian government which required me to achieve highschool level competency in German within two years. The overachiever in me accomplished it within 9 months and then … nothing. No commencement exercises, no acknowledgment, no congratulatory party (hint, hint, hub’s!!). I haven’t even heard from my ‘counsellor’ since signing that contract! I have a wall full of accreditions and yet, I’m not qualified enough to apply for a job in my field of expertise; there was all this rush to get to the finish line and now what?!
So, as I often encourage my younger SIL, I registered for college-level German. Fact of the matter, there are very few places in the world where one can be monetarily successful with a high school education and currently, that’s where my German stands – at the crossroads of Basic and Limited. My old school does not get enough demand for higher education classes, so I moved to a private institute. Last year was my first experience with public education and many things took me by surprise – no books, no windows, no actual classroom (we conducted classes on a publicly-acccessed alcove…by the stairs), and an incredible lack of professionalism from the staff (you may recall my astonishment at my lecturer’s delightful, matter-of-fact response that it was my personal problem that we had no preparatory info for our upcoming test, despite the fact that we were paying her to instruct us for the test). I spent a LOT of last year in shock and there were many a day when I mentally restrained myself from ‘reaching over and snatching someone bald’ (including the aforementioned lecturer). So yeah, I’m delighted to be in an actual classroom where we’re not disturbed by random noises and my heart sighed with contentment the moment we were handed our brand new lesson and exercise books (no more copies that are too dark to decipher and half-twisted off the page!). I feel like I’ve returned to civilization.
As my new classmates and I went through our round of mandatory introductions, I noted there were no housewives with ambitions to bear a brood of 4 here*; these were folks with aspirations I could relate to. There’s a Californian who, after living for a few years in Berlin, is currently completing a PhD in History in Vienna and decided to update her German. There’s the doctor from Eastern Europe, who while waiting for her degree to be approved by the government, opted to complete her German studies. There’s the Korean undergrad student who, after living in Budapest for a few years, is now studying Psychology and German here in Vienna (note to self: do not get into any deep conversations with him!). I share a table with an Icelandic beauty who tours with Björk and is training as an Opera-singer, a Slovenian diplomat, and a stage-designer from Slovakia. Ironically, I’m the class intrigue, as no one’s ever met a Bahamian before (they’ve heard of my island paradise home – yes, there were glazed eyes associated with the revelation, lol) and I have been scrutinized from top-to-bottom. Now you see why I’ve always got to be good; I’m an unofficial representative of my country.
The classes are a lot of fun but, as expected, things move fast. We dove straight into the work and have been given massive amounts of homework every single day but I expected the pace as it is an upper-level, intensive course. On Wednesday, we attended a welcome party and the entire school was there. Many of the students also attend the universities in Austria and entertained us with their incredible talents in the field of music and theater. We were given a schedule of social events for September, activities include theater-in-the-park; tours of breweries, museums, and public buildings; international parties; cuisine introductions and cooking classes; and even meet-ups at the hot spots – there’s something occurring every single day! I got into such a conversation with a group that we moved to a bar one of them knew and I didn’t get home until 1 am. It’s like being back in college again! 😀
So, this is where I am, experiencing a bit of school daze but in a good way. Still having those “WTH am I doing?!” moments but I’m beginning to think that as long as I take the road less travelled, those moments will remain as my companions. (Nonchalantly shrugging and dusting my shoulder off) “Bloom where you’re planted right?”