Lost in the Altstadt (which is NOT that big).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It is probably my biggest weakness, as a traveler, that I am very directionally challenged.  My second-biggest weakness is my inability to resist H&M, TopShop, Zara, and Mango, but that's beside the point. 

Anyhow, I knew it would only be a matter of time before I got lost, but I didn't expect it to be on the way to orientation, aka the place I just went yesterday.  I called Sandy and asked for help when I realized I couldn't find the building in the Altstadt.  Thankfully, she came and got me, led me back to the building ("Ohhhh, yeah, it's this building!", I said as we walked in), and we slipped into the back, unnoticed.  During today's at orientation, we learned about all the excursions included in our curriculum, and signed up for travel groups.  I made sure to sign up in the same group as Kayla, the girl I talked to at LHR while Sandy was networking with Pakistani diplomats.  

Following orientation, we took German placement tests.  There are 52 American students this semester, and of those 52, 42 got sorted into the beginner's class (Sandy), 7 in the intermediate class (me), and 3 in the advanced class (3 students who are native German/Austrian but American by birth).  Caroline is in her own private class because she's a semester ahead of everyone, including the 'native' students.  

Sandy was thrilled because she didn't actually have to take an exam; if you have had zero German, you check the box that says, "I know nothing! Help!" and you're automatically funneled into the level-1 group.  Surprisingly, after our placement exam, we actually had a class (I had sort of assumed that the exam was our class for the day).  My German professor, Frau Eva, is native Austrian, extremely strict, intimidating, scary, the list goes on.  I've already heard semi-horror stories about her, but I'm told if you do your homework, you'll be fine.  It might take a few classes to convince me of that, though; this first class was somewhat traumatizing and I'm already wondering if I know German but at all.

Feeling as though my brain has become absolute mush, I took the bus home to I.K., discouraged for the first time since we arrived.  All of that changed, though, when I met: "the Spanish boys."

I walked into Caroline's and my room only to find that she wasn't there.  I quickly heard her laugh from the common room upstairs, though, followed by some very obviously accented voices.  It dawned on me that these voices must belong to Sergi and Roman, about whom Caroline has told me a lot.  I ran up the stairs and sure enough, she was sitting on the couches with the both of them, along with Vaidas, another student on their floor who I have nicknamed "Lithuanian Michael Cera."  

After I introduced myself, Sergi and Roman asked me if I knew Spanish, and when I started speaking it back to them, they screamed and clapped.  I actually conversed with them for a couple of hours, which helped my self-esteem as I had just spent the bus ride home wondering if my chosen area of study (foreign languages) was right for me after all.  I could tell right away what close friends Sergi, Roman, and Vaidas are.  Not only did none of them know each other when they came to Salzburg last fall, but none of them knew any English (Caroline could attest to this) which is crazy because now they converse so easily.  After speaking Spanish so easily with them, though -- and also realizing how quickly they picked up English -- I'll go to class tomorrow feeling a bit more encouraged and inspired about language-learning in general.  And these feelings will last about five minutes, I predict, once Frau Eva gets the best of me.

I will master the German language if it's the last thing I do, though, just you wait and see.

I will also try to master my sense of direction, but I'm a little less sure about that one....

Quote of the day: "Who would have thought that I would be the one saving you?"-- Sandy, when she rescued me in the city center

Currently thankful for: Sandy, public transportation, Kinder bars, Happy Hippos, and cheesy pretzels the size of our heads.

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