It probably won’t come as a surprise to know that packing a ballgown was not on my list as I headed for Austria, but it probably should have been!
Austrians pride themselves on their lavish ball culture and since I started teaching here the Maturaball (end of school leavers ball), was at the forefront of discussion. I mean, I literally spent one lesson last week discussing ball gowns, who was dancing with who and all the rest that comes along with the elaborate organisation of an event. Leaving school for me meant a rather modest meal and disco-esque celebration, yet here the school had hired out the biggest event space in the city (as in capacity of thousands), hired a live band, professional photographers, spent weeks learning dance routines, invited all their family and friends and topped it off with all the classic trimmings, red carpet included. A truly insane amount of money was spent on the event too. Students had to raise a few hundred Euros each to make this all happen, some even got companies in the city to sponsor them for the event, worlds away from anything I experienced anyway!
The sheer scale of the event was what shocked me the most and the whole night was a programme of speeches, dancing and performances! Upon arriving I felt so surprised by the amount of people and also felt lucky I’d met a fellow teaching assistant to go with, because we both said we wouldn’t have had a clue where to go or what to do if we were alone. It literally took us half the night before we found the teachers or anyone we knew from school! The night started off with welcoming speeches and awards, and then the formal procession began with the reeling off all the names of the students leaving, which took.. a long time, but it was nice too see them all dressed up so smartly! Afterwards the students did their traditional formal dances that they had spent weeks learning, which was lovely to see! The dancing is such a key part of the Maturaball culture and most students said they really loved learning to dance anyway! It made me very jealous that I never got the chance to do anything so cultured for my leavers prom! Most of the rest of the night was filled with lots of music from the live band and lots of traditional dancing, which I loved. Even I got up and had a bit of a Waltz…well I attempted to learn the basics! Perfect chance to I thought! And that wasn’t just because I’d had a fair few glasses of wine, but that helped! It’s actually made me really want to learn to dance properly seeing all the professionals (aka. Austrians) dancing away!
Around midnight, you would think the night would be coming to a close, but no, in fact, this is a special time of the night where the students dress up in funny outfits and each class puts on a kind of comical sketch performance, called a ‘Mitternachtseinlage’. The theme of the ball was Hollywood so we had everything from Mary Poppins and Pink Panther to Pirates and Star Wars battles! It was all very unexpected, but lots of fun nonetheless! Another couple of hours of dancing, drinking and chatting to the teachers topped off the night perfectly. We were a few of the last ones left at the end of the night, to the point of the cleaners coming round at almost 3am telling us we had to go! Most of the students had moved onto clubs and such to party even more, but I quite welcomed getting home to bed and taking off my heels! 3am was good for me anyway! I sound like an old woman… think I’m just out of partying practise perhaps! 😉
Anyhow the evening was a true spectacle and you never know hopefully I’ll get to go to another in the future! Unfortunately it was hard to get many good pictures at the event but the local newspaper reported on the event and took lots of lovely pictures which you can check out here if you are interested! http://www.kleinezeitung.at/steiermark/landleute/baelle/5113574/HLW-Schrodinger_Stilvolle-Ballnacht-der-HLW-Schrodinger
In other news life in Graz is still as fabulous and exciting as ever! Teaching is going very smoothly, though having said that the past week has been abundant with bank holidays and such so I can’t say I’ve been overloaded with things to prepare! Last week I also attended the pub quiz with some fellow teaching assistants and to our great surprise we ended up winning one of the rounds which meant we won a 100 euro voucher to use on drinks there, so it covered our tables tab for the evening, what a joy!
Also the christmas tree has already gone up in the centre of town and they’ve started putting up all the market stall huts, so I’m secretly already getting super excited for the magical festive season here in Österreich…It’s the most wonderful time of year after all!