Vignettes from Vienna

Trip Start Jan 08, 2008
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12
Trip End May 17, 2008


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Flag of Austria  , Vienna,
Friday, April 25, 2008

I am pleased to announce that due to my amazing finals schedule, I will be returning to the Land of the Free two days earlier than planned. I'll pause while everyone screams in elation..................After my Dad confirmed that he changed my flight, I began to reflect on my time here in Vienna. I realize that my reflections may be a little premature (I still have 3 weeks), but, as a member of the study abroad community, this is my duty.

I'm not to the emotional stage when I announce "This is LAST time I'll ride this trolley." Or "This is LAST time I'll eat at this restaurant." Or "This is LAST time I'll sleep in this bed." Right now, I'm just high as a kite so I thought I would share some stories from Vienna that didn't make it in to the blog in a timely manner.


Pigeons

I have no patience for pigeons. They deceive people with their sparkly feathers and their astounding ability to walk faster than humans, but they truly are a spawn of the devil. They clearly have realized that I caught on to their evil tactics and now I'm their priority target.

The weather has finally gotten a little better in Vienna. Although the weeks are still riddled with rainy days, sometimes, the sun DOES shine here. On these sunny days, I like to sit outside on the shopping street near my school and eat my lunch. My lunch typically consists of a schnitzel sandwich or a falafel sandwich from the corner shop. Pigeons love these foods. The moment I sit down to feast on my meal, I notice those damn pigeons out of the corner of my eye. "It's important to not let them defeat me," I tell myself repeatedly, but I know one day they will win. They wobble back and forth, under the bench, around the bench; they even have the nerve to stare at me.

I have learned the art of eating peacefully while simultaneously flailing my legs about in an attempt to remove the pigeons from my line of sight. Why does eating my lunch have to be this hard? I recognize that these disease-carrying birds probably won't climb on the bench and eat my food, but that doesn't change my undying desire to drop kick them across Vienna.


All I Ever Need to Know About Life, I Learned from a Viennese Dog Owner

Before I came to Vienna, I heard that the Viennese typically prefer dogs to children and that preference was confirmed once I arrived. Several times, I have walked past a situation where a mother is grasping a child's arm as the child thrashes about screaming and whimpering. However, I have never passed a dog owner as he brutally reprimanded his pet.

The Viennese also have a strange aversion to strangers petting their animals. I think this knowledge has spurred my overwhelming desire to pet every puppy that walks my way. I know they want me to...I see it in their eyes. But no, every stroke of the animal's fur is met with menacing looks from the owner and every other Viennese person in view. So despite my urge, I retract my hand and sadly exchange eyes with the dog.

Regardless of my sad situation, the Viennese dogs are amazingly obedient. It's like they breed all Viennese dogs together and just ship them out when someone wants a new puppy. I was convinced that they were members of this disciplined K-9 army until one particular day.

To my amusement, I finally saw someone training their dog! I know my excitement may seem childish, but to watch someone try to have their dog achieve the level of discipline displayed by other Viennese dogs is hilarious. I watched this college student chase his oversized dog down the sidewalk of one of the busiest streets in Vienna. The dog had clearly deceived his owner by making him think he deserved to be without a leash. As soon as the leash came off, the dog bolted. I could see the embarrassment in the college student's eyes as he realized the Viennese eyes of judgment looked down upon him. I'm sure one day that dog will follow his owner's wishes on command, but until then...I'm glad I realized that even the Viennese must train their puppies.



Death Cab

My German teacher told us that the Viennese have a fascination with death. They have a saying: "I'm riding on the No. 71." This cryptic phrase refers to the No. 71 street car that leads to the central cemetery in Vienna and is comparable to someone in America saying "I'm gonna die!" in reference to a stressful test. Although I've never ridden on the No. 71, I do know what it feels like to think you are headed for the cemetery.

After getting ready for another normal day of class, I hopped on the No. 41 and headed into town. 10 minutes into the ride, I heard a frantic bell coming from my street car followed by a crash. The crash threw all the passengers out of their chairs and on top of each other. No one appeared to be too shaken up by this situation, but I know that this isn't a normal morning for a street car. Apparently a BMW with the intention of turning left was sitting on the street car tracks. The street car driver tried to warn the car with the bell but the car couldn't move in time. Collision! No. 41 smashed into the left front bumper and continued scraping against the car for a fourth of a mile.

I knew I was in a foreign country when the street car driver yelled "Bitte alle aussteigen!" (EVERYONE PLEASE GET OFF) instead of checking to see if we were hurt. I gathered my scattered belongings and exited the wrecked street car. I wasn't hurt, so my allusion to the central cemetery was probably an overstatement. Oh well, it still makes for a good story!
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