Archive for March, 2012


I have finally been paid, so this weekend I was able to go to some other places in Austria! I have a friend from my German class back home who is also a teaching assistant, in a city called Salzburg (known for Mozart and The Sound of Music), so I went to visit her. Indeed, it was a lot more touristy than I expected. The train journey was lovely, though; I really felt like I was in a fairytale and it was exactly what I previously would imagine when I thought of Austria. Now I’m back in Linz, everything seems rather flat in comparison…

My very first impression of Salzburg!

We had the most delicious lunch here – a chickpea and spinach curry with couscous.

A little house sticking out of a mountain, which I found charming.

View over the city from the top of the fortress. We got up there by cable car!

View of the fortress from the Museum der Moderne.


All in all, it was great to see another part of the country. I found that the accent wasn’t quite as strong here, actually. I do feel quite jealous of my friend because it’s so beautiful here, and apparently it was breathtaking when it was covered in snow. However, it’s rather small, and I’m glad there’s more to do in Linz. It was also nice to get another point of view about the teaching experience, and I came back feeling rather inspired, because I had a few problems last week and I now feel like I’ve had a kick up the bum to sort them out.


Life at work

The first full week is over and I feel like I’ve hardly had a moment to myself. You see, not only am I spending my mornings in the schools, but I’ve also taken on a couple of other little earners.

I am babysitting a 5-year-old girl, a job passed along to me from the previous assistant who moved away. I guess it’s a good way to get some extra money. However, even though it’s only one child, it is also really exhausting, especially since I have to rush from school, have a quick lunch, then pick her up from the kindergarten and spend all afternoon with her. While it can be fun to act like a child again, there have been some very frustrating moments (many of which stem from the fact that I can’t always think of the German words I want to say when I want to exert my authority).

I’m also giving after-school tuition to some of the students I see in classes. It’s nice to get to speak with them on a one-to-one basis, but what it has really opened my eyes to, is the fact that certain teachers really tarnish the students’ faith in their own abilities. A girl I was with today said that her teacher always put her English speaking skills down in class, and that made her feel like she didn’t really want to bother with the exams, but that when she talked with me she felt a lot more confident; and indeed, I really didn’t think she was bad at all.

I don’t wish to really complain too much, because it is a positive experience in general, but this week really has been a mixture of good and bad times. Some groups are ultra-responsive and utterly fascinated to be speaking to ‘a real English person!’, and in return, it’s almost like I absorb their enthusiasm and am able to reciprocate it. On the other hand, some just couldn’t care less, and they mess about, and it’s very hard to know what to do or say, especially since I know that if I tell them off in English they could easily not understand me (or at least, pretend not to), and – again – I may not express myself the way I intend to in German.

But the biggest nuisance to me at the moment is the fact I have absolutely no idea when I will get paid for my actual placement. After my rent for this month gets debited, I will hardly have any money (this sounds terrible seeing as I just described two other sources of income, I know). I am so eager to get out of Linz at weekends and see everything else Austria has to offer, but at the moment that doesn’t look like it will happen anytime soon.

Oh well, to cheer us all up, here is a handful of my favourite words I’ve learnt since being here:

ethereal, celestial, out-of-this-world

sich als ______ entpuppen
to turn out to be _______

der Strudel
not only a dessert, but also a whirlpool

die Glühbirne
lightbulb (literally “glow pear”)


die Antibabypille
birth control pill (alright, I knew this one already, but it’s so funny)

Austrian greetings and getting ill

I’m going to try and be much better at updating this than I was last semester. I’ll try to aim for at least one post per week.

I started my placement; alas, I was only there for two days. I’d had a cold for a week or so but didn’t think anything of it. But after the second day, I suddenly felt so ill – breathing hurt, eating hurt, you name it. Another assistant recommended a doctor I should visit, who worked on a no-appointments basis. After one failed attempt (I didn’t bring all the right documents, i.e. my Austrian residence form, my passport and my EU health insurance card), I went back the next day. I was in the waiting room for an hour and a half and it was agony, I felt like my whole face was going to explode. Finally, I got called into the doctor’s office by the receptionist, being told, ‘Herr Doktor kommt gleich‘, but he in fact took about 20 minutes to arrive, and I was becoming a very impatient patient.

Eventually he got there, I told him my symptoms and some tests were done. I was prescribed some antibiotics, nose spray and drops to put into my tea, which I got from the local pharmacy for 11 € in total, which I didn’t think was bad at all.

In the waiting room, something I found rather odd was that when someone entered, everyone would greet them with Grüß Gott (which I’ll write more specifically about in a minute), and then when they left, said goodbye with Wiederschauen. In the UK, this would never happen. People sit down grumpily, wallow in their illness, avoid eye contact and certainly don’t say a word to anyone. But it’s a nice gesture, I suppose, and I probably should have done it too to fit in, but never mind.

Right, Grüß Gott. It’s the standard greeting here, it roughly means, “May God greet you”, and I believe it’s only used in Austria and Bavaria. People say it when you enter a shop, and I just reply with Hallo, because I feel so awkward on the occasions where I have said it, but I probably come off as disrespectful in not doing so. I don’t believe in God and so I just feel like it’s a clunky, meaningless thing to say. I’ve looked it up and apparently using the standard German greeting Guten Tag comes off as cold and distant here in Austria. I suppose I’ll just have to grit my teeth and start using Grüß Gott.

As I write this, I’m feeling a lot better, and fully intend to go back into school next week, after which I’ll give a proper report on how it goes!