Tuesday, September 4, 2018

10 years later ... part three

The first day of school in 2013, I pitched up at the business college without a residency permit because it still hadn't been approved. And the director who had hired me said, "oh, by the way, we don't have enough hours for you here, so we're sending you to a technical college up the road to complete your contract." This was the first day of school!  And the technical college up the road was 15 miles up the road.  I didn't have a car.  I didn't have any money because I didn't have a contract because I didn't have residency yet!

10 years later... part two

I can honestly say that the decision to be a Fulbright teaching assistant in Austria changed my life.  Already during my first visit to Austria in 1986, I knew that someday I wanted to live in this magical place.  The assistantship allowed me to find out if my German was good enough, and if I could be accepted by the locals.  I rented an apartment from a former English teacher, and shared living space with a 24 year-old heavy metal rocker.  My mentor taught me so much about being a teacher and living an authentic life. I met friends and gained a lot of experience teaching in different settings. And it took a long time, but my German (or at least my Styrian dialect!) improved. I also realized that I didn't need loads of money to be happy, because my pay as an assistant was half my measly salary in the States.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

10 Years Later...

When I started this blog, it was to keep my friends and family updated about my new adventures as a foreign language teaching assistant in Austria.  That was in 2007. Ten years later I am living in Austria as a full-time English teacher in a higher technical college.

How did I get here, you may ask.  I won't say it has been easy, but I am a firm believer in "everything happens for a reason."  This is my take on the events that led me on this most amazing journey.

Wind Damage on the Putterersee

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Romania - Part IV - Lasting Impressions

I didn’t get to take many pictures as we were zooming through the Romanian countryside, which is a pity since many of the lasting impressions would have made beautiful submissions to National Geographic Photo of the Day.

Some of the small villages in Transylvania were not quite infrastructurally up to date.  Bright yellow pipes often lined the streets, and even formed arches over driveways. I asked my Romanian friend what these pipelines were and she said, “Gas lines.”  Gas lines?? Above ground - at bumper level!?  Don’t people run into them?  “All the time,” she said. 

There were other peculiarities of Romanian villages.  Nearly every driveway/carport/front door had a grape arbor to provide shade, but also for homemade wine.  Many houses have modest livestock:  chickens, goats, cows.  I can’t count the number of times I saw elderly women taking their cows for a walk in the early evening - and I can’t believe I never got a photo!

Romania is still a very poor country.  Like Greece there are half-finished buildings dotting the landscape.  In the Danube Delta we saw people living in wagons - reminiscent of the gypsies of lore, however politically incorrect. 

In the country, I never saw any sort of mechanized farm machinery... everything was done by hand, including the cutting of hay/grain with a scythe, and if the hay had to be dried the farmer and his family turned it over with rustic hayforks.  Shepherds conducted their sheep along rivers, bucolic scenes worthy of Vergil - until a low hanging snag or sandbar reminded me that there is no successful recycling program in Romania - bottles and plastic sacks are piled high, even along the Danube!

Before I left for Romania, a friend told me I needed a rabies shot.  That wasn't the case, but I now understand where she was coming from.  There are hundreds of stray dogs in Romania - in every city, village, at every rest stop and every archaeological site.  Many of them have tags in their ears to show they have been immunized and registered - making them look like a ragtag bunch of Steiff Button-In-Ear toys.  


The only thing I really regret about the trip to Romania was that we had absolutely no time to shop for souvenirs or postcards or find a post office to send the postcards we'd written.  I know that means I'll probably have to go back sometime!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Romania 2013 - Part III

The highlight of the Colloquium was the excursion to Constanța.  The coastal town to which Ovid was exiled (after his affair with Emperor Augustus' daughter, Julia) was, according to his own description, bleak.  Today it is a resort area - Ovid was always a trendsetter!
Ovid looking dour in Constanța (Tomis)

It took a long time to get to Constanța, even though it is a mere 200 km from Bucharest.  But we wanted to visit Tropaeum Traiani as well.  It always amazes me how very far off the beaten path some of the Roman outposts are.  The distinguishing feature of Tropaeum Traiani is the monument which  commemorated Trajan's victory over the Dacians.  The original monument fragments are displayed in the museum at Adamclisi, and a modern reconstruction now stands on the site.  It can be seen from miles away and was a reminder of Roman superiority.
Tropaeum Traiani
Original sculptures in the museum at Adamclisi
Original reliefs in the museum at Adamclisi
As always happens on these excursions, I am torn between the Roman sites and the natural history.  I decided I needed to get a better camera with more control after missing a terrific shot of a green and blue lizard because of auto-focus!

Lacerta viridis
We finally arrived in Constanța, and stayed at the lovely Hotel Palace on the harbor.  To compensate for my lack of view, the door to the bathroom was decorated with seashells between two panes of glass!

Ovid may have complained endlessly about the waves and wind at Tomis, I found them romantic and refreshing:

The next day we went to Histria in the Danube Delta. This turned out to be quite an excursion!  There are remains here as far back at the Greek archaic period, which makes is a good place to study continuity.  The museum was fabulous, and when I found a sculpture comparable to my research poster project (The Missouri Dove Girl), the staff not only found publications and bibliography for me, but even allowed me to visit the storeroom!

As I walked to the archaeological site, I heard THIS SOUND.  And I said to myself, "If that's not a HOOPOE, I'm handing in my Junior Ornithologist card!"  And sure enough, the place was overrun with hoopoes*, which flew from the walls of the ancient city, into the fields and back again.  This is known in the ornithology biz as a "life bird!"

We ended up back in Bucharest in time to grab a late dinner, and the next day the participants scattered to their respective homes in 15+ different countries.  I went to Austria to continue my research (and my job search!).

*and storks, hawfinches, European ground squirrels, crested larks, butterflies, pipits and six-inch stinging centipedes.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Romania 2013 - Part II

Our northwesternmost destination was Deva, where we visited an outdoor lapidarium, played with kitties, paid homage to Decebalus and were entertained by a group of dancers performing for Children's Day.

Look at all the different types of stone and marble!
Obligatory cat picture - what would the internet be without cats?

Decebalus, King of the Dacians - until his suicide in 106 CE

We returned to Bucharest via the oldest stone church in Romania, built from plundered Roman stones and via the World War I Monument in Târgu-Jiu, featuring sculptures by Romanian born artist Constantine Brâncuși.

Basilica Densus
Brâncuși's Gate of the Kiss (note bride!)
All in all on our 60-hour trip to Transylvania we traveled 800 km in a bus that averaged about 30 mph, admired the river landscape when it wasn't littered with multi-colored plastic bags and bottles, visited four museums, heard thirteen more lectures, ate at a medieval restaurant, visited the church and the Brâncuși monument, and made it back to Bucharest in time to catch about seven hours of sleep before our excursion to the Black Sea!

End of Part II.

P.S. Apparently SOMEONE was allowed to take pictures of the Dacian bracelet hoard!
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