Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's Surely Summer

Well, sorta easy.  I'm busy, busy with blogs, but I did take a 4 hour (yes, we sat there for 4 hours!) coffee break with my friends this morning/afternoon.

I had to hide my white skeen from the harsh, hot sun.. "Let me in the middle!  I sunburn!"  (I really like this excuse for getting the middle spot!).  A lot of ladies were getting insta-tans while I felt smoke coming off the back of my arms. 
let's try this (starting at left going clockwise): 
Sylvia (Austria), Kim (Canada), Carla (Argentina), Lee (Australia), Katelyn (Virginia), Olga (Serbia/Boston),  Wendy (San Diego), Me, Marion (Austria)

Always fun with the girls.  They were appalled I hadn't made July 4th celebration plans.  
They nominated me planner of a July 4th lunch at the Harley Davidson store restaurant.  Apparently, they have the best steaks and hamburgers.  Ha.  You do what ya gotta do.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Answering the Question

Emily left this question in the comments yesterday and I had two other people ask for the answer, so I thought I'd do a little follow-up:

How do you feel about going back at the end of hubbie's postdoc research?

I think I made it sound like I love Graz and don't like the U.S. and that's not the case.

Like I said, living over here has been sorta like a sabbatical in the sense that we were totally out of our comfort zones and were forced to think about everyday things in a new light.  We are away from friends, family and all familiarity.  I don't think our life here is the same as what life is like for a typical Austrian our age that's grown up here.  They probably experience a lot of the same things I was saying about the States...we just don't because we're foreigners and without a family, social circle or even a car.  It makes it different.  A lot of it is the culture, though, and I think Austrians would definitely have some shock going to America, but it's also our situation and not just Graz.  Am I making sense? I'm giving you quite a long drawn-out explanation here!

There are so many wonderful things about home too, of course.  My interview questions were sort of loaded and I didn't ask what people missed about home sorta assuming it was more obvious.  Family and friends being #1.  That's the HUGE biggie mama.  The food.  The friendliness.  The job opportunities.  Driving at least some of the time.  Better stores.  Being able to wear heels and wedges easily.  ha.  (see, I'm not saying I'm not into some consumerism.)

A woman from my English club spoke to us last week (she's an Opera singer that's recently relocated to Graz, but been a European expat for 25 years now) and she started out with this:

The second most miserable people are expats.
The first?  Expats that have just moved back home.

We laughed.  I haven't experienced it yet, but I already know it won't be 100% easy just because it's 'home'.
Some people say it's harder than moving to the foreign country.

I have discussed this with several of my friends here and what it boils down to is:
There will never be one perfect place that embodies everything you love.  You will never be able to reconcile your love for two totally different places.  You will always have a small yearning for the other place.  And, that's ok.  We should consider ourselves lucky to have the experiences and have 'two loves'.   (Hey, this ain't men.)

So, my answer is:

I have mixed feelings about moving home.  I have no idea where we'll go, so we aren't really moving 'home' anyways.  It will be another start.  And, it will be great.  Really, a lot of it is what you make of it.  And I would like to move somewhere a little more European in city set-up, but we'll see what happens.

Do I sound like Pollyanna?  I'm so not.  Whoa...moving abroad really has done things to me!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Expat Inquiries: Little ole me

I've run out of interviews, so I'm here answering my own questions:

Where do you live?
- Graz, Austria

little us in front of the Graz Opera House.

How long have you lived there?  And is this your first home away from the States?
- A little over 2 years.  Yes, first time living out of America.

Where are you originally from?
- Houston, Texas

What brought you to Austria?
- Husband's postdoctorate research

What do you do for a living?
- I do blog designs for some extra money, but I don't make a living from it. :)
I never found a job due to insufficient German skills, so I created my own little stay-at-home work.

Do you speak German fluently?  If so, how long did it take you to learn?  Do you find it to be an easy language?
- Um, no.  I took two 3-month / 4 hours a day / 5 days a week intensive courses in the first year we lived here, but when you don't get good, daily real life practice, it's almost impossible to become fluent.  I find I can read magazine articles fairly well and understand e-mails from some Austrian friends, but when it comes to speaking, I am sehr peinlich (embarrassed) and nicht so schnell (not very quick).  I'm not proud that I've lived here for over 2 years and am still not fluent, but the fact that Germans come to Austria, esp. southern Austria, and say they have a hard time understanding the German here makes me feel much better.  We learn one thing in school and hear a pretty mutated version of it out on the streets, which makes it really hard.  There's my excuse. :)

Oh, and to answer the second question, I did not and do not find it easy (Spanish is WAY easier), but if I compare it to Chinese or Hungarian, it doesn't seem quite so bad.

What are the people like?
- The people are more reserved.  At first I thought it was snobby or a bit rude, but what I've come to learn is that that is just what they are used to. They find it fake that we automatically ask "How are you?" and don't always expect an answer.  I do miss the mega-friendliness in Texas, though.  Not the pushy salespeople or that regard, I like the Euro leave-you-alone style.

How long did it take until you felt mostly adjusted?

- I would say a year...and you keep adjusting more and more, of course, the longer you are here.  I felt mostly adjusted when I had a set of friends, when I knew enough German to order food and grocery shop, when my house had at least 5 pieces of furniture and when I was calling Graz 'home'.

What were some of the hardest things/aspects to adjust to?
- Language, not working (no first), the WINTER

What are some things/aspects you don't miss back home?
- Overconsumption (lots of people have said's a biggie), 'Keeping up with the Joneses' crapola, traffic

What are your top three faves about your current city or country?
- Most everything is in walking distance/public transportation (I LOVE makes more of an impact on your life and health (physical and mental) than you think), the old-fashioned charm (buildings, cafés, our apt.) and the simpler way of living.

In what areas do you think moving abroad has helped you to grow?
- I didn't really realize the subconscious pressures and expectations that I felt back home (not really from friends and family, but society in general), until I moved away and felt sort of a freedom. Living here is kinda like a rather long sabbatical.  It gives you some serious perspective to step out (way out across the Atlantic) and see a different way of life than you're used to.

Fave places you've traveled in Europe?
- Don't really have a fave...I've really liked everywhere I've gotten to go.   Europe is wondey like that.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mein Vater ist einfach der Beste

Sounds cliché, but in my case, it's simply true.

Father to seven children puts you in the nomination pool automatically.

Here's what earns him the gold:

 He was always there for us...and still is. 

Made it to almost every sporting event, no matter how kinda boring some were.
ALWAYS worked hard, but you'd never know if he had a bad day when he came home to us...

In fact, I've probably heard two complaints from this man's lips my entire life.

He's friendly and extremely likeable.
"Your dad is a great guy" is something I've heard my whole life.

He was always interested in what was going on with us... and still is.
(look above..that's a lot of people to keep up with.)
He's patient, selfless and a wonderful husband to my mama.

And, he's got a laugh that makes you laugh just because it's so fun to see him so cracked up.

 and he's quite a dapper Dad.

A girl's father has a strong influence on her life.
I consider myself extremely blessed.

 I love you, Dad.
Happy Father's Day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Vienna at a Glance

We took Art's mama to Vienna last week. Can you believe it was his first time too?

So muscley, that groin region.

So groovy, those lights in an old, beautiful church.

So cheesy, that antiquey effect.

So leetle, those people.

So good.

So rooty, my hair.
(I mean, that is downright does not look that bad in real life..i hope.)

So gilded, this city.

So long, Wien.

And so long, M.  We loved having you here.

Who now will stand afar and take pics of our important life events?

:) xoxo

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fun with Marilia

Art's mom is here, he's taking some time off from work and we're all just cruisin' around.  

Tschüß baba for now!