Thursday, January 29, 2009

Musikverein and other adventures

So, let me just start by saying that my life pretty much rocks. Today was so great! We had German class at ten, and then we were free for the rest of the day! So, Britain, Laura, and I went down to this government office and registered to become official Viennesse citizens. So, I am officially Austrian for three months. Cool, huh? After that, Emily and I went wandering around the city. We found the stake center, and rode around on the Strassenbahn. Then we got some for real Apfelstruedel (Apple strudel)!!!! It was delicious! It was just the right balance of sweetness and tartness. The pastry part of it was really delicate, which made it even better. Then, we wandered up to the Rupertskirche, which is a church about a block from my apartment that was built in the tenth century. It was so awesome! Here's a picture:

After that, I met up with Britain, and we went home to get ready for the concert! I went to a concert at the Musikverein, and it absolutely blew my mind. The concert was given by the Wiener Symphoniker, and they played a piece by a 20th century composer named Webern. It was stunning. I don't usually care for most 20th century music, but it was so great! The Wiener Symphoniker completely captivated me. They were exactly together. It was like it was a living, breathing musical body. Not to mention the conductor was absolutely impeccable, and fascinating to watch. Also, the dynamics throughout the entire performance were unbelievable. I have never heard an orchestra with so much contrast. This was how music is supposed to be! It was unbelieveable. Not to mention that the audience at the Musikverein was fantastic, and the fact that I was sitting in one of the most famous and beautifull concert halls in the world was awesome. You could tell that the Viennesse people have a deep love for their city, and music. Also on the concert was a Beethoven concerto, and a Brahms symphony. Can life get better!?!?!? No. The whole time my heart felt like it was going to come out of my chest. It was beyond words. Music is supposed to cleanse the heart, and touch the soul, and this music definently met those two requirements! I just loved it, and plan to go back soon!

Isn't it beautiful?

After the concert we all went to a cafe, and hung out. It was really great just to sit around and chat with everyone. I am having a wonderful time here in Wien. It feels like the most natural thing in the world to be here. It truly is a city of music, and I am being exposed to exquisite music like I have never heard before.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

German, museums, and classes, oh my!

So much to tell! I'll start with yesterday. Yesterday was our first day of classes, and thus was very exhausting. First was our European Fine Arts class, which is kind of an art history class, and a European history class all rolled into one. The class is taught by Herr Professor Kroell, who is a very interesting Austrian man. Our lecture yesterday was three hours long, and all about the history of the Austrian empire. It was an extremely interesting, albeit long, lecture, We disccussed how Vienna changed geographically, along with the rest of the Austrian empire, and about the socio-economic climate in Austria within itself, and in relation to Germany. After that, some friends and I went to this cafeteria type place down the street from the Institute for lunch. At this particular establishment, you pay for the size of the plate you get, and there are different stations with food. So, I got the smallest plate possible and trotted off toward the fruit. After I had begun constructing a fruit mountain on my plate, a man came over and informed me that I had to use these special bowls for the fruit. So, I transferred my fruit to the appropriate dish, and went over to the check out counter. There, I explained in German (very exciting) what happened with the bowl and the plate, because the plate was still on my tray. This was great, becuase I actually spoke pretty fluidly (I think I may have just made up that word), and the guy understood me without asking me any questions, or having a confused look. Hooray! This was my German triumph of the day. So, then I went to Dr. Vincent's apartment for my voice lesson, which went well. Then at three everybody else came over to the apartment, and we had opera workshop, and discussed repertoire for the scenes program. I am doing the opening scene from Die Zauberfloete (Mozart), a trio from The Barber of Seville (Rossini), and a duet and a trio from Cosi fan Tutte (Mozart). There's also a Lakeme duet, and some scenes from Don Giovanni. I am SO excited for the opportunity to sing this music here in Vienna. It is a dream come true. I live in the city where mozart wrote Cosi fan Tutte, and Die Zauberfloete (The Magic Flute). In fact, Die Zauberfloete was premiered here, with Mozart conducting. How awesome is that?!?!? Maybe it's just a nerdy singer thing, but I find that very inspiring, and mind-blowing. Anyway, moving on. So, after opera workshop, Joseph and I went on a quest for My Fair Lady tickets. We went up to the Volksoper, and got them. Then we wandered around for a while, stopping in a Billa, which is a pretty cheap grocery store, on the way. After that, we walked some more, and then decided to get some food. We got kebabs. Yum. After that, we hopped on a random streetcar and rode around for a little while, before meeting our other peeps back at the theater. Did I mention that this production of My Fair Lady was entirely in GERMAN?!?!?!? It was crazy. It was a great chance to listen to some uninterrupted Deutsch. Hearing all of the songs that I am so familliar with in that particular show in a foreign instead of English was very enlightening. And a little bit odd. It was really fun though, and I spoke German with some very nice Austrian ladies. So, that was yesterday. Whew! Today I had German class, and then went to the Wien Staadt Museum, and saw some very interesting models of the city. I ate a delicious vanilla pastry, and had this crazy carbonated Austrian drink. Afterwards, we had opera workshop. Yay! Amy and Rebekah worked on the Lakme duet, which was lovely, and then we got to do our Magic Flute trio. That was interesting, since Emily, Britain, and I hadn't rehearsed together in a month. It was really fun though. Then we had master class, followed by dinner with my Hausfrau. Dinnner was so intense. The food was delicious. We had very traditional Austrian pork with Knoedeln, which was a bread/dumpling thing. We also had a purple vegetable soup, and a heavily spiced fruit dessert. The intensity came because ,again, Frau Feest speaks no English, and absolutely expects us to keep up with her German. I did pretty well. I talked about the food, my family, the city, school, health, and music. Frau Feest loves music, so we talked about vocal training, Verdi, Mozart, and Schumann. I told her that I am singing "Lauchen und Weinen," and she could sing the whole thing without even having to think about it. I was impressed. I also learned a lot about pronunciation, and a slew of new words. She also asked Britain and I if we wanted to make singing our careers, and so we told her yes, and then talked about that for a little while. Needless to say, my brain kind of hurts right now just thinking about it, but I was pretty proud of myself! It was like an hour and a half of solid German! Well, I have to go do my homework. Gross. Bis Morgen!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Naschmarkt, Gelato, and U-bahn Adventures!

I feel like today was my first real day in the city. This morning, my alarm clock did not go off. Yikes! Luckily, Britain woke up and checked the time. It was nine o'clock, and we had to be at the institute at ten. We hurried and got ready, and then rushed to the U-bahn station. The U-bahn is the subway. So, we got to the station, and then clumsily made our way downstairs and onto the train. Fortunately, we got on the correct train, and made it to school on time. This was a very good thing, because apparently the Austrians take punctuality very seriously. We then had orientation, which was not all that exciting, but we got some useful infomation. Around lunchtime we went on a walking tour to get oriented with the practical things in the city, like the U-bahn. We went back to Stephansdom, and then headed to Naschmarkt. Naschmarks is this wonderful outdoor market, with all sorts of awesome food! There were all sorts of cheeses, meats, restaurants, and fruit. We wandered around for about an hour, and it was great! I had a lamb Kebab from this crazy Turkish man for lunch, and it was delicious. I was with a group of my amigos, and after our delicious Kebabs we proceeded to meander the food stalls. We ended up purchasing Turkish delight, dried strawberries, raspberries, and...carrots. That's right my friends, sugar coated, dried carrots. And you know what? They were good! It was really bizzare, because I was completely prepared to not like them, but they were this wierd not too sweet, good textured delicious. So, after Naschmarkt we came back to the institute, and then we took the U-bahn to Dr. Vincent's apartment, where we got our cell phones. Yay! We stayed and chatted at Dr. Vincent's house for a while, which was nice, and then Britain, Joseph, Ty, and myself hopped back on the U-bahn for more adventuring. We wanted some food, and we meant to get off at Karlsplaz, but ended up getting off a stop early. We went to a wurstel stand (hotdog stand), where the boys got some food. We also learned how to say "open" and "closed" from the nice man running the stand. We then wandered around for a little while, trying to figure out exactly where we were. Ty asked a man on the street, in German, where the opera house, and from there we found our way to where we wanted to go. Here's a video of us meandering towards the opera house:

Sorry the camrea isn't steady, but we were walking down the street. After we got to Kaertnerstrasse, we found the delicious gelateria. The people working there speak some german, no english, and perfect italian, so it's always a multi-lingual experience. I got biscotti and nutella gelato, and it was heaven. We are going to the opera on Saturday!! Yay!!!!! I'm super excited about it. I have two goals for tomorrow: 1. buy a new pillow because the one my Hausfrau gave me is horrible 2. take lots of pictures and post. them. Well, I have to go to bed because I have class in the morning, but I will post again soon. Auf wiedersehen!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

a few pictures

The view of the Danube from our window

Our cute little apartment! Check out that wallpaper.

Me and Britain are so glad to be here!

So, here are a few pictures of my friend (and roommate) Britain and I, and our apartment. More pics to come soon. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Adventure Begins!!!

I'm in Vienna!!!!!!!! Woo hoo!!!!!! It's seven o'clock pm local time, and I am exhausted! I got on my first flight at six thirty pm yesterday, and got to Vienna at two pm today. Whew! Luckily, my neighbor got me a sweet upgrade to business class for the Atlanta to London flight. It was awesome! I then had a four-hour layover in London, during which I had to switch airports. That was an adventure. Then I had to manage the Heathrow airport. I don't know if it was because I was tired, or because I hadn't flown international in a while, but that airport frustrated me to no end, and I like airports! Anyway, Dr. Vincent was nice enough to pick me up at the Vienna airport, and get me set up with my Hausfrau. My hausfrau's name is Frau Baccetti. She's an awesome older lady who speaks absolutely no English. Luckily, my German is good enough that I have been able to communicate with her so far. The apartment is sweet. It's in this old building in the first district. It has all sorts of crazy wallpaper. I'll post pictures tomorrow. It's really quaint, and Britain and I have our own bathroom area, which is nice. I'll have to post a more detailed description tomorrow when I'm not so delirious. I went exploring a little bit tonight. Vienna feels different than I thought it would. I expected it to feel huge, like NYC does, but it feels pretty small, even though I know it's not. I think maybe it's because all the buildings in this district have these beautiful facades, and none of them are all that tall. The district I'm staying in was also the midieval part of Vienna too, so the streets are all windy and narrow. It's cool. I managed to meander my way up to Stephansdom tonight! It's super close! A lot closer than I though, actually. I walked around it, and might go to a concert there tomrrow night. Well, I'll post again tomorrow, hopefully. If I can get internet again, that is. Auf wiedersehen!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lunch with Jefferson

Since I am leaving for Wien in just a little while (53 hours and 5 minutes to be exact, not that I'm counting!), I decided that I would eat lunch at the elementary school with my little brother today. Now, there is a rule at the school that says that parents (or sisters) aren't supposed to bring fast food for the kids they are visiting. I decided that was a dumb rule, so I decided to smuggle chicken sandwhiches from Chick-fil-a in for us to eat. I felt very sneaky as I placed the sandwhiches, as well as water bottles and bananas, into regular lunch bags in order to avoid suspicion at the front desk. Mission accomplished. I got the sandwhiches into the cafeteria, and Jefferson and I ate them without protest from the scary ladies that patrol the lunchroom. Needless to say, the social situation at the table was hillarious. As is usually the case in the fifth grade, the boys all sat at one table, and the girls at another. All the fifth grade girls watched me with rapt attention and whispered amongst themselves as I infiltrated the boys' territory in order to sit with my brother. The conversation at the boys' table focused mainly on video games, and a piece of my brother's hair that was sticking up. A girl at the adjacent table had pointed it out, and all the boys, my brother included, thought it was the funniest thing they had ever seen. I also overheard a snippet of conversation that went a little something like: "I do NOT like her!!!!" Ah, fifth grade romance. So that is the story of my sojourn into the fifth grade boys' lunch table. The end.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Car Crash

Well, it happened. My first car crash. I was on my way back from a voice lesson, headed down the parkway, when suddenly I saw two headlights headed straight for me. They came out of nowhere, and from the wrong side of the road. Almost like when a deer jumps out in front of you. A giant metal deer. I slammed on the brakes and swerved to my left, but the next thing I knew I heard a BOOM, and I was skidding into the middle of the road. Obviously, I was shocked, but after I had determined that I still had all my limbs I managed to get the car out of neutral and into a nearby turn lane. I then called 911, and got out of the car. A nice couple and an older gentlemen came toward me. They had also called 911. After determining that I was not seriously injured, they went over to see about the other car. The teenage boy hadn't gotten out of his car. Fortunately, he was conscious even though he had gone off the other side of the road, and into a tree. He complained of an injured wrist, but he was otherwise fine. He couldn't get out of the car because the door was bent out of shape. The police and ambulance arrived a few minutes later, and hauled the boy off on a stretcher. The police asked the older man, who was kind enough to stay, what had happened. He said that he was right behind the boy when he suddenly drifted into oncoming traffic, namely me. The police then took my statement, which was not all that coherent because it happened so quickly, and I was a little shaken up by my head-on encounter. Fortunately, I was wearing my seatbelt, or my face would have slammed into the steering column, since my faulty airbag did not deploy. Needless to say, I am extremely grateful for seatbelts, my family, and my life. I walked away from the accident with nothing more than some soreness. Clearly, God protected me tonight. I'm sure that my back, shoulders, and neck will hurt for the next few days, but that's what chiropractors are for! Also, my car is totaled. I loved that car, but cars are replaceable. Arms, legs, and lives are not.