Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cultural Observations: Vienna

I've been living in Vienna for seven weeks.  I feel like this is a good time to point out some of my observations of the lovely Viennese culture.

1.  Ketchup ain't free
I don't know why this is so strange to me.  Every time I go to McDonald's (which has been like, twice, don't judge me), I forget that important fact when I get my meal.  This means pulling out my wallet again and looking like a dummy while holding up the line.  Aggravating stuff.

2.  Bewegung
Bewegung is German for "movement," and it's something the family I live with likes to do after a big meal.  I don't understand this one either.  We've just eaten a gigantic meal, the last thing I want to do is go outside and hike around in the fresh air.  However, I am coming around to the idea of this one.

3.  Jack Wolfskin = North Face
Jack Wolfskin is the Austrian equivalent of the American North Face jacket brand.  You see them EVERYWHERE.  Just about ever traveller on the metro has one and they come in just about every color.  It's pretty interesting.

4.  "Wurscht"
Wurst, the proper pronunciation of the word above, as you may know means "sausage."  However, the Viennese dialect has integrated this word into their daily conversation to mean "I don't care/It doesn't matter to me."  Do you want to have chicken or steak for dinner?  It's sausage to me.  I love using this phrase but it certainly took a few weeks to remember how to say it properly.

5.  Vienna is clean
So clean that I have to italicize the word.  Loic visited from Paris, a well known "dirty" city and was astounded by the cleanliness of the streets.  Seriously, in the metro and on the ground, there is no trash.  It's amazing.  Also, it doesn't smell like pee everywhere like some cities *coughparis*.

More observations will come as I notice them,
bis dann!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Around the Internet

If you know me in person, you know I like to read a LOT of articles online.  I am a news junkie.  I use feedly (after Google Reader bit the dust), an RSS service that collects the recent posts of all my favorite blogs into one page for convenient reading.  I follow over 100 blogs and news sources, anything from world politics reports to recipes, and if I don't get through ~500 blurbs a day, it starts to add up.  I was away for the weekend and my current to-read (well, to look at and decide if I want to read the whole article) is over 2.500.  Yeah.  And I hate marking something as read if I haven't read it... There could be something interesting in there that I could miss!

But I digress.  I'm introducing a (hopefully weekly) list of articles that tickle my fancy and I want to share with someone.  Let's just do this.  If you're really interested in what I read, look at my media fingerprint.  This comes from an extension I have added to Google Chrome, it analyses the articles I read and then sends me biweekly suggestions of articles they think I'll like.  I've only had one email from them, but I think it is awesome so far.  The graph in the following link is especially cool.  Yay, data!

An interesting profile of the beloved brand Sriracha- Quartz.  They don't spend any money on advertising, so how is this sauce so damn famous?!

This video absolutely killed me.  "I am worried about my grade" embodies the laziest students in college who come in to office hours on literally the last day to try to fix their failing grade.  Ridiculous.

Why Young Americans Should Work Overseas- I keep reading articles like this and I'm often impressed by the facts laid out; the reasons are truly compelling.  Honestly, this article exaggerates the dearth of opportunities in the US- it makes it seem like there are literally zero jobs out there for those with degrees in humanities, not true.

Ok, that's all I have right now.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Lange Nacht der Museen and LOIC'S VISIT

As my friends and family know, I am in a long distance relationship with an amazing guy named Loic.  He lives in Paris, working as a programmer for a game company.  For all those wondering, we met online.  I am not ashamed of this at all, because he's the best person I've ever met and continues to surprise me.  I'm lucky to have met him.

We first started talking in late November of 2012 and have been dating since December.  We first met in person in May of this year, shortly after I graduated and right before the beginning of the Munich catastrophe.  If you followed the Munich story, you know that I stayed with him for a month in Paris while I tried to figure out my visa situation. Unfortunately I had to return home to the US in August, and worked here for a month before we got to see each other.  Finally, after two months, we were reunited for a long weekend in Vienna.

Something only my close friends know about me:  I'm a planner.  I like to imagine things in the future and organize events as best as I can so I can effectively daydream about them.  Lists are one of my favorite things.  The Lange Nacht der Museen is literally translated:  The Long Night of Museums, and occurs all across Austria annually.  This year coincided with Loic's visit, October 5th.  129 Museums were open from 6pm-1am Saturday night, and that's only Vienna.  I paid about 11 euros for the opportunity to go to almost every exhibit in Vienna for seven hours.  Luckily, to maximize efficiency, I made a list.

We attended:
  • Albertina:  To see Gottfried Helnwein's hyper-realistic portraits.  This stuff is fucking amazing.  Larger than Loic's Parsian apartment sized paintings- with every little hair individually painted in oil and acrylic on canvas.  See below for one of my favorites.  The picture here doesn't do it justice- you must see it in person.
(Just to give you an idea of the scale/realism of the damn thing)

  • Staatsbibliothek Oesterreich:  The State Library of Austria.  Heralded as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, these few rooms are truly breathtaking.  I took some pictures on my phone the previous time I was there, but again... you have to be there

  • Heeresgeschichtliches Museum:  Military History Museum.  A ton of people forget that Austria-Hungary was one of the strongest empires in world history for over 600 years.  More to the point, the assassination of one of the royal family members was the spark that ignited the first world war.  Really mindblowing if you remember this.  We looked at Franz Ferdinand's car and tasted a popular Austrian dish called Kaiserschmarrn:  basically shredded pancakes with stewed plums.

Honestly I wish we could have done more last night.  We finished up around 11:30 and I just could not go on.  We had to make a few pit stops here and there, for water, wurst, and espresso to keep us awake.  You know, the important stuff.  I would certainly love to experience this night again, it's super cheap for an unimaginable list of world class museums, some with fun extras like the Kaiserschmarrn.  We really should've hit up the schnapps, chocolate, or coffee museums, each of which provided free samples.  Oh well.  Next time.