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. ;)
Jan said...

Oh, I didn't know Hannes was leaving so soon. You will miss him so much. He was sure a nice person to work with. I know the new girl will love working with you!!

Jeneric Generation said...

I can't wait to start reading about the new girl! I miss Hannes for you. I hope you are coping okay.

DiamondGirl said...

It is no surprise to us that you've made such good friends. Everyone loves you! And I have to say this... Don't wish for time to stand still because you my sweet girl will always have another adventure waiting for you.

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