Spring, Snow & Skifahren

First things first. Time flies. How did we get to march already. I’m somewhat perplexed at the notion that in two months it will almost be time for the summer break. It feels like so many things have been going on and falling into place the past few weeks that it’s been a little frantic, yet I’m once more pleased to be able to say it’s a good frantic feeling!

Now it’s time for a little throwback of what’s been going on the past couple of months pre-the appearance of spring…

Firstly, though it may seem like a while ago now, let me tell you about the snowy wonder, the picture-perfect gem that is Hallstatt.

In just over two and a half hours from Graz we were transported to what felt like a different world. Truly, it could well have been green-screened like some crazy Disney-world-esque virtual reality experience. Austria just never fails to stun me with it’s beauty, just when I think I’ve seen it all. We arrived at Hallstatt station and were greeted by the glistening lake and a view across the lake to the town which was donned in a white blanket of fresh snow, which was so beautiful and perfect. And yes across the lake! It soon came to our attention that in order to reach the town we were to follow the medieval tradition of taking a boat over to the other side. It was lovely though and it added to the mystical other-worldly-ness of the entire day.

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Usually a bustling tourist hotspot, Hallstatt in its mid-winter state, was, in fact, eerily quiet. Many shops and cafes were closed up for the winter and most of the people there were visiting to go on snowy mountain hikes in the area. I was going to say that’s not specifically what we were going for, yet our casual walk turned into attempting to follow a trail, ending up being knee-deep in snow, falling face first into said snow, many times, and ended with falling/slipping/sliding/sledging without a sledge back down into the town. All in all resulted in a lot of cry-laughing and soggy snow-covered clothes.

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Hallstatt was a perfect little snowy day out, and despite the fact that it did get a little ghost-town kind of feeling towards the end of the day, it was beautiful regardless. I’m definitely going to have to go back in summer and hopefully make it further up the mountain trail before sliding half the way back down!

In other news I also had the chance to tick off a new year’s resolution and for the first time ever I put on a brave face (90% of the time) and went skiing… It was quite possibly..The Scariest. Experience. Of. My. Life. Yet it is also up there with one of the funniest, so the trauma is kind of balanced out at least! The day started with no plan at all, we hired skis and got on the chair-lift and went up the mountain in search of a kids learning area. Yes, we were possibly the most ill-informed first time skiers of all time. I’d barely made it off the chairlift before ending up in a heap with many pro-austrian skiers looking over as if to say, ‘literally what is this person doing!?’ Things progressed, we’d been skiing/falling/getting stuck/definitely not actually skiing for approximately half an hour. And, well, long story short. Kids area closed. Only alternative. An actual slope, that was actually pretty steep. Resulted in getting mildly stuck on the side of the mountain and having to be brought down on a snowmobile by the mountain rescue. = *death by  embarrassment*. Hence in the afternoon, we booked for a last minute private lesson. So in the end it turned out better and left me feeling pretty eager to be able to book for a longer time and get learning!

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Now we have arrived in March it seems the winter time is slowly coming to a close, which means we are finally enjoying some spring sun and basking in the tropic like temperatures as they return to double figures! Yay!

In other news all is going well! Still! And over the next few weeks there are some fun things planned, trips, jobs and just so much to look forward to in general! More news soon about all things österreichisch and wonderful.

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Teaching, Trials and Tribulations

“Do you speak German?”, “Can you say Oachkatzlschwoaf”, “Do you like tea?”, “Does it rain there?”, “Do you know the queen by the way?”; just a sample of the many questions I’ve encountered over the past few weeks as ‘Katie’ aka. ‘the english one’. 

Before embarking on this teaching venture I was not sure quite what to expect. Many people had told me before about their own experiences, yet I still struggled to envisage how it would be for me, because I had never done any teaching before this. For that reason I thought I would collect together a few trials, tribulations and experiences from the past few weeks to advise future assistants, for memories sake and purely for the hilarity of some situations.

  • Be prepared to introduce yourself..fifty times over..

Firstly, I’ve lost count now of how many times I’ve walked into a classroom and done the introduction routine. Some teachers may want you to go straight into a topic or not take up too much time but whatever happens, one way or another you have to introduce yourself. I teach thirteen classes a week in two schools (week A and week B) and plus a few extras that have been swapped and changed on occasions, so I wouldn’t hesitate to say I’ve done the ‘Hi, my name is… and I come from…’ routine at least thirty times. My drawing of the UK has gone from bad to worse; to the point of some students questioning, ‘what is that exactly?’… which provided some amusement at the very least.

  • Prepare to be interrogated..

Students are curious. Very very curious. About just about everything in your whole life. There was no way I could have possibly prepared for some of the interrogations concerning everything from hobbies, pets, family, languages, rain, tea, royals to english butter, boyfriends and brexit. Truly I feel I’ve heard it all!

  • A chance to learn..

As the school system is different here in Austria this means that many things vary in the types of schools and their curriculums. Students can choose from a younger age what focus they want on their studies, which means that some high schools have different focus areas and specialities. For example my schools both have a business focus, which means that some topics are somewhat unfamiliar! In the past few weeks I’ve covered all kinds of topics, from advertising and branding to business ownership models (the one time I wished I remembered anything from GCSE business studies..) and marketing. This means that I’ve had to do a fair amount of work and research to make sure I’m informed enough to be able to then discuss a topic thoroughly enough with the students. Obviously this has proved challenging in some cases, but actually it’s good that I get a chance to learn some things too!

  • Expect the unexpected..

There is sometimes no way to prepare for the everyday trials and tribulations that teaching throws at you, and sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and deal with whatever gets thrown your way. Things can’t always go as smoothly as you would hope. Especially concerning technology..when you plan a lesson on tourism and want to show a video, then the sound doesn’t work be prepared to provide a voice over commentary.. yes this happened, but I’d like to think my commentary did the Welsh tourist board justice! Aside from that there are many things that have been sent to try and throw me off guard; whether that’s rowdy students or the casual attitude towards swearing in the classroom, some things can come as a bit of a shock at first. Once I asked a class what they would do if they were a millionaire and one student shouted ‘I’d spend it all on drugs’.. needless to say my facial expression perfectly encapsulated my response. Not impressed.

Overall these past few weeks have been quite the rollercoaster! I’ve surprised myself with how much I’m actually enjoying it all; yes it is daunting at first to stand up in front of a class of 15-19 year olds who think they are too cool for school and be presented with the task of motivating them, but in fact once you get on their level and don’t take things so seriously, they will respond eventually! Honestly most the time you just need to make a bit of a fool of yourself, make them laugh, be real and make them feel comfortable enough to talk to you! It also really helps if you can get them talking about topics relevant to them and something they identify with; the other day discussing cultural differences with an A-level class I asked them if they had any tips for dating in Austria and I couldn’t get a word in edgeways, worked a treat!

I feel so lucky to be here and have this opportunity; feeling like I actually might have some direction in my life! Schau ma mal… 🙂

Buon Viaggio: Venice & Milan!

Before my year abroad I don’t think I quite expected that I would realistically be able to see so many different places. Least of all did I expect to make it to Italy! One bus and one train ride from Graz main train station and I could find myself arriving in the beautiful city of Venice. Then just added on popping to Milan for a couple of days. Why not! The week before was my birthday so I decided I could think of no better treat to celebrate!

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Piazza San Marco

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May: 21st Geburtstag & Life Updates.

It occurred to me that most the time I have something specific I want to write about for these posts, but I felt like it was just about time that I wrote something a bit more chatty and just give you a few general updates about the life behind all the exciting excursions, because I feel like that is sometimes forgotten!

Continue reading “May: 21st Geburtstag & Life Updates.”