Archive for the ‘Erasmus’ category

A little bit of resolve

May 5, 2009

I have decided to add “resolutions” to my list of categories.

Every couple of months, weeks, sometimes days, I come up with some new self improving decree, something that will make me better, stronger, faster and all that, then I pretty much invariably fail to carry them out. To this end, I feel I should start making them public – or at least as public as one can consider a blog with an average of less than one view per day.

My most recent resolution was to update this blog everyday, which I have managed about 70% of the time.  Unfortunately, in recent days, I’ve found that I’ve had very little to talk about.  I’ve spent the last few days in my room watching TV shows online, leaving my room just to go to class, the shops or the gym.  It has not been an exciting time.

And this frustrates me!

I am currently on my Erasmus year, currently entering the Twilight of my time abroad with only eight weeks left at the University of Vienna and I’m disappointed in myself that I’ve seen so very little of the city.

I’ve found with a few Erasmus students that they’ve not really seen many of the sights – even those that were here for the first semester as well – and it’s not apathy, so much as the idea that the city will still be there tomorrow, two months still seems like a long time, even if it will fly by.  I need to motivate myself to get out and see things.

My Vienna City Guide has 58 pages given over exclusively to sights.  Every evening I will pick a place and go there the next day, camera in hand and see what I see and I’ll write about it in the evening.  What will come from that?  I don’t know, but I saw so many interesting things in Seville because I spent a lot of time walking around the city and I want that to be the case here.

I’ve also decided that I’m going to start keeping a food diary again, using the book that I originally drafted my blog entries in.  I’d like to find some use for it other than a guilt trip with an attractive cover, but no inspiration has struck me as yet.  I’ll take it with me tomorrow and see if I can think of anything to put in it.

Finally, for the first time, I present:

Tomorrow’s destination: Landstrasse, which is technically cheating as I’ve been there before.  The Schloss Belvedere, one of the first places I visited in the city, is there and I want to film my first Viennese vlog outside it, but there are a few other things out there, which I didn’t see last time.

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I’m English (me old fruity)

April 24, 2009

I did something yesterday that I’d never done before.  I sent someone a text saying “Happy St. George’s Day”.

I’ve never really paid much attention to St. George’s day; this is largely because I spend most of my time playing up the fact that I am, technically, Austrian – born halfway up a mountain in Austria is more than simply a quirky blog name, after all.  However, my usual “I was born there, therefore I am one of them” schtick falls down somewhat when I arrive in the country, unable to fully communicate and having spent 18 out of 21 years living in the UK.

So here I’m English.  And there’s nothing wrong with that, I’m proud to be English, England is where I was raised and I am part of it’s culture.  Being “Austrian” is simply something that makes me stand out from the masses a little bit.

The problem I’ve been finding in writing this, though, is finding aspects of English culture which are distinct from British culture.  I’m proud of British humour, which takes it’s cue from the whole nation’s absurd, self-depreciating, occasionally macabre tastes.  I’m proud of the amount we’ve contributed to literature and science, but authors from all over the country write comparable works and our scientific advances have come about from group research.  I’m proud of the BBC; I’ve met so many non-British people who use the BBC news service and watch it’s programmes, because it offers more balanced reporting and more varied programming, but that of course is the British Broadcasting Corporation.

But then, when I lie back and think of England (har har), I don’t think of those things, nor anything that could be learned from textbooks.  I think of my family and of somewhere I can go back to if all my worldly ambition falls through.  I think of sharing a pint and laughing with my mates down the pub.

On my walls there are two flags, a Spanish flag and an Austrian flag.  I’ve been asked before why I don’t also have a flag for England.  Put simply, Spain and Austria are places where I’ve lived; their cultures and languages fascinate me, but I will always be an outsider to some extent.  England is my home.  And that’s more than a flag can truly represent.

So while, after all I’ve seen, I can’t romanticise the English countryside as the most beautiful in the world, nor the weather the finest, nor the politicians the least corrupt.  I can say that for many years now since first hearing it sung by The Divine Comedy, I’ve always this poem going through my head – and occasionally my iPod – when I return to England from a holiday:

I travelled among unknown men
In lands beyond the sea;
Nor, England! did I know till then
What love I bore to thee.

‘Tis past, that melancholy dream!
Nor will I quit thy shore
A second time; for still I seem
To love thee more and more.

Among thy mountains did I feel
The joy of my desire;
And she I cherished turned her wheel
Beside an English fire.

Thy mornings showed, thy nights concealed,
The bowers where Lucy played;
And thine too is the last green field
That Lucy’s eyes surveyed.

William Wordsworth

And I mean it every time.

I don’t know the Irish for “Welcome Back”

April 20, 2009

The Irish are back. Most of my time spent in Vienna is spent with a group of three Irish girls and an Irish guy and they arrived back on Sunday. Jon rang me when they got back, inviting me out to lunch – which, incidentally was the first internal call I’d received since arriving here, causing me to jump out of my chair at how loud the phone’s ring was.

Despite having just flown in from Ireland, we went to an Irish pub for food, and whilst we were sitting, talking, it occured to me that this was the first time in a fortnight that I’d had any contact with my peers. For all that I love about it, everyone I know in Kitzbühel is at least ten years older or younger than me, which can leave you kind of alienated.

They also meant that I got out of the house more.  I thought that I would wander around the city during the last few days of my Easter holidays, but I felt no real compulsion to do anymore than I needed to.  I have a theory that, whereas in Seville, where I would go out to get personal space away from my roommate, in Vienna, where I have no roommate and infinite personal space, I want to spend time with people when I go out.  Of course, I could just motivate myself, but I want to justify my laziness.