My bags, and bags, and bags, and bags are packed.
I am not prepared.
True, I may be equipped with every clever travel gadgetry and thief foolery to the point where if someone is looking to pick my pocket, they’ll have to take me with them. Which, given my Hollywood knowledge of Europe, doesn’t seem entirely implausible, and, as my father neither a trained international spy nor Liam Neeson, might present a bit of a problem.
But that’s not what I’m worried about (it is a little).
In a split second decision, I made the choice to go on exchange. It was a decision fuelled by little other than outrageous jealousy of my globe trotting friends and a whisper of wanderlust. All I wanted was to be able to say oh-so casually, “Oh this? It’s just from Paris.” (Naturally, I would pronounce it Pair-ee. SUCH a world traveller) With little planning and even less foresight, I spun a globe and my finger landed on Austria. Okay! This’ll be great! They like coffee. I like coffee. They like Sacher Torte. I like chocolate. They…well, honestly, the coffee and dessert comparison was about as far as I got. But, hey, what else could you possibly need?
Accredited courses for my home university? PAH!
A similar language? PISH-POSH!
Proper financial means? I SAY!
Our relationship may be based off coffee, pastries, and the fact that cost of living is cheaper than Sweden, but anything more and you’re just getting picky.
…Alright, I could have planned this out a little better.
In Dave Sedaris’ novel Me Talk Pretty One Day, he moves off to France to live with his boyfriend armed with a vault of French vocabulary only consisting of “bottle cap.” He greets the baker a good bottle cap in the morning, he asks for 500 grams of bottle cap at a deli, and requests bottle cap from the pharmacist. But he makes do somehow.
It presents me with a bit of hope as my Austrian is limited to German battle calls from war movies and embarrassing impressions of Arnold Swartzenegger. That’ll work, right? No? Dang. All I can hope for is that the Viennese take pity on me, like a baby bird fallen from the nest, flopping/yelling/crying, “Achtung! Panzer!” at the bank machine.
I’ve tried to pump myself full of Viennese info: I’ve read all of the past exchange reports from other students, committed the outgoing and incoming exchange student manuals from both universities to memory, perused through Rick Steve’s travel book, and watched Pumping Iron three times.
I’ve got my No Jetlag pills, my noise-cancelling-aka-baby-slash-chatty-neighbour-cancelling headphones, a book of crosswords, and hopefully access to a stiff drink or seven on the plane.
Away we go and I wish you all a bottlecap.