Crackers and cheese. It’s a combination so common and delicious it knocked me over when my buddy Tom told me he’d never had it. We were standing in the grocery store Billa with a wheel of cheese in my hand as I gawked at him, realizing one of the first differences between his world and my own (apart from the time when I offered him gum and he all but spit it out, exclaiming, “This tastes like toothpaste!” Careful, mint gum’ll do that). Moments later, however, balance returned while standing at the cashier, a young man ahead of me unloaded his basket that contained nothing but beer and sweets. Tom and I both looked at each other and said, “Typical student.”
There is something different about the Viennese and I can’t quite put my finger on it yet. I’ve stared at people on transit or walking down the street, looking for something to help me describe it. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s just my brain creating something from nothing, attempting to draw some dividing line between us and them. It may also just be the backdrop we’re set in: dreary skies, snowy cobblestone streets, and pale historic buildings. Everything here seems a little bit tired, but I think that at the tail end of winter, everyone’s exhausted.
My life in Vienna is slowly coming together.
I braved the transit alone again twice and I ordered myself a cup of coffee. And by ordered myself a cup of coffee, I mean my buddy ran off right before it was my turn to order so I panicked and ordered, “Regular café,” and then she asked something in German several times before I said very apologetically, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak German.” Less impressive, but it’s a start. My room is starting to take shape and pictures will eventually happen.
They shouldn’t give male buddies to girls. A hard lesson to learn on a day filled with shopping. Shopping with me especially is both a technical science and an extreme sport. I should have warned him to bring pads and maybe an energy drink. Poor Tom had to stand there for hours while I stared at a wall of foreign straighteners and blow dryers. For those of you who know me well, you’ll understand how excruciating this was (for both of us) to do without having my Blackberry’s Internet to check reviews. It wasn’t as though I could turn to Tom and ask him which one he liked best (It ended with a Hail Mary grab, so we’ll see how it turns out tomorrow and I may or may not have hair as a result). I then dragged him through countless shoe stores looking for a single pair of slippers. And finally, even after spending the entire afternoon running laps through an IKEA-esque store, there’s a few items I still need to tackle and as I am buddy-less tomorrow, this will prove to be significantly more difficult.
I also learned today that many Austrian government offices are closed on Wednesday for that much needed mid-week holiday. Given that they work until 2pm most days, I can see why they’d really need the rest. Naturally, I will be looking into employment opportunities.
Thanks to this Hump Day break, I’m a bit screwed. Austrian law says that within a few days of moving, I have to register with the authorities. Tomorrow, I don’t have a German-speaking buddy to come with me to the authorities to help translate.
Fun fact: Without registration from the authorities, I can’t get a bank account.
You know what doesn’t work here? My debit card.
You know what many businesses don’t accept? My Visa.
So, who has two thumbs and about 3 Euros to their name? This guy!
Orientation starts on Friday and lasts solidly for two weeks, making it rather difficult to fit in both excursions. So it’s looking like I’ll have to wander the streets in search of a new German friend tomorrow to help with the process of registration AND opening a bank account, or perhaps sell a kidney or two on the black market (My dear mother just had a stroke).
Unfortunately, this problem has been compounded by the fact that I still don’t have Internet access. I’ve been fortunate enough to be buddies with an iPhone, so I’ve been able to do the important things like give an electronic thumbs up on Facebook to let everyone know I’m alive (but unlike with the Canadian Tom, I don’t feel as comfortable bogarting Viennese Tom’s iPhone for several hours at a time for my personal use). At Haus Panorama they have an Internet registration system that makes my hyper-efficient, type-A soul tremble/weep. The office is only open at night from 6:30-9. During this time, a line of easily 50 students forms and moves inches in a half hour period as they register each IP address separately (so if you don’t have your computer on hand like SOME people – AKA. me – you have to run back to the eighth floor to get it and go to the back of the line again). I figured that I would pay my five Euro and I’d be knee deep in LOLcats and Facebook status updates by now. FALSE! It says my account is blocked. Turns out I won’t have access until 8:10, according to the rather surly gentleman in the Internet Office. I suppose he meant 8:10 AM as it’s currently 10:00, and my account is still blocked. I’ll have to go to WU tomorrow to get their wireless.
Back to reading I suppose…
HAH! What a white whine: “I have no Internet (read: Facebook), I guess I’ll have to just read my eBook Kobo.”
XOXO Gossip Lord Fussington III, Duke of Broke-and-Kidneyless-shire
P.S. World travelling friends: I currently have a phone with a bob SIM card. Apparently with this card I cannot call or text internationally, and I think that’s quite silly. Do any of you have recommendations for different international SIM cards that I don’t need a contract for?