It's about time to tell you a bit about my life here, everyday, because it's not regular occurance for me to travel and embark on journeys all the time - no, I hold a student visa, am on an educational exchange, and so attend school.
aren't they adorable?
it's the most incredible thing here.
my classmates have known each other since they were 10. Since they made the crucial decision to take the "realistic" course, the science and math route, they've endured the ups and downs of the Austrian school system together. Ups: independence, self sufficiency, flexibility. Downs: unconsistancy, lack of attention from unmotivated professors, precious little incentive. The class is small - about 18 - and dwindled further when they turned 13 and went into the 4th class. Half the class left to go to other educational institutions (specialty schools, easier high schools) and now the rest is who I know and have grown to love. Sure, they are like any other group of teenagers: not void of cliques, stereotypes, emotional baggage with each other, lack of privacy. It was difficult to delve into the complexity of a class who had spent their entire school careers together, and still it remains. I feel like an intruder often. Their last year, before Matura, interrupted by a hopeless American foreign exchange student who sits in the back of the class like a juvenile delinquent and accomplishes the pointless. I hope to fracture this enclosed circle of friendship. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I don't mind being alone. I rarely make an effort to make friends - but I'm content with a small but good number. Here, I am not. Austrian relationships have changed my outlook on thinking: friends for life, freunde fürs leben.
I've learned a lot from school, not all necessarily academic. I've discovered the importance of ambition and self drive. How education is such a privilege. Procrastination hurts, just get it done. Multi tasking is possibly the greatest talent one can possess with a mound of work looming ahead. School has helped me sort out a few things; the school day is usually 6 hours long, and 2-3 of those hours are thinking in German, listening to German, and reading in German. The others are usually dedicated to day-dreaming, thinking, and observing. I wrote earlier in the year that "thoughts are the single most dangerous thing an exchange student can encounter" and it still holds true.
However school isn't always so serious. I laugh often. I smile often (especially when I don't understand something). my classmates are endearing.
there are things I'll never understand, even after this year.
1. unidentified flying objects. I have been hit with countless pieces of paper, gum, a football, books, a slipper, erasers, and god knows what in the classroom. A wadded up piece of paper wizzes past my nose as I read. I send an sms to a fellow exchange student, I feel something faint brush my shoulder. I get hit on the side of the head as I walk down the corridors at school to buy pretzel bread with a football - a betrayal, as it is an American football. A vengeful classmate levies a marker at another, and lucky me is in the middle. I am terrified of flying objects now. Austrian boys seem to have the weirdest obsession with throwing things. I am usually a causality in their never ending wars, however the other girls and I are also frequent targets. The other exchange students and I have discussed Austrian males' love of the flight, and have come to no reasonable conclusion. It is so peculiar.
2. snow. that snow. that pesky, wet, disgustingly useless mound of white sitting outside our classroom. the hindrances it generously provides. ugh, der schnee. and when the foreign exchange student comes bouncing into the classroom singing "let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!" well that's just the jam on top of our sachertorte.
3. slap happiness. When Austrians get excited, they slap your legs, arms, whatever. Enough said.
4. chatter boxes. Fruitful conversations. They talk during the breaks, they talk during work time, they talk when the professor talks - and promptly glares, they talk talk talk. Not even a scowl from the most loathed professor, a Viennese 20 something with an art degree, discourages these passionate lovers of the vocal word.
5. entschuldiung! unabashedly says Marius, with an demeanor of unperturbedness and coolness ..he strolls to his seat - motorcycle helmet resting on the hips, clutched by a carefree hand and an unruffled spirit - and sinks into his seat, a faint smirk tugging at his lips. The professor glances up from her work briefly, and only offers a brisk nod and a lukewarm "Guten Morgen". The flexibility here to tardiness is astounding.
6. games. I look to my left, there's a classmate with his gameboy under his desk and his thumbs in a flurry. I look to my right, and there's a group of boys surrounding one with his phone, playing a game. I look up, and the glow from a city of handheld PSPs and DSs illuminates the ceiling. sigh.
7. DEUTSCHSPRECHEN! du musst mit der Austauschschülerin nur deutsch sprechen! Mein Gott, und du, die Libbi, musst Deutsch lernen. Come on now. Even though we have an English and High German matura, and half the class is miserably failing, let's not converse with the fluent foreign exchange student even though it might benefit us!