Austrian National Library

…aka my heaven!

Yesterday, I took advantage of our day off and headed over to Stephansplatz, where I wandered around and discovered some alleyways I’d never seen before. As one would expect from exploring in Vienna, I stumbled upon some really charming places.

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In Vienna, every corner of every street in the city center gives visitors something to see. As if the architecture and color weren’t enough, shop owners decorate their stores with fairy lights and flowers, making the streets an overwhelmingly delightful mass of cuteness.

When I found the Austrian National Library (which, unbeknownst to me, I had passed several times already, just thinking it was some beautiful governmental building… whoops. Sometimes I’m a dumb American living up to my stereotype), I discovered that the famous State Hall with the beautiful painted ceilings and mountains of books is actually located in the entrance off Josefsplatz (good to know for future visitors), so I walked a bit longer, but was absolutely not disappointed. I totally fell in love.

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The Library is part of the University that was founded in the 12th Century! The room also acts as a museum of sorts, housing original documents and heavily-bound leather books from as early as 1200. Appealing to my inner (and outer) music nerd, the Library even features a handwritten piece of Gregorian chant.

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The best part is… I’m only just cracking the surface of what Vienna has to offer. I can’t wait to see more.

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Consider Me Visa’d

In exactly a week, I will have been here for two months. To celebrate my upcoming second monthaversary, I got my visa today! I am so pumped, I’m not even mad about my terrible mugshot on the front of the Residence Permit card!

After about a year of planning to move to Europe (Germany initially, but saying I’m fine with having landed in Austria is a huge understatement), I’m finally here, *officially* a working expat. I gotta say — it feels great!

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Ostermarkt

ostermarkt

The Viennese certainly know how to Easter.

Yesterday, we visited Karlskirche at Karlsplatz for their afternoon Good Friday Mass. The church, though smaller than the Stephansdom, is no less incredible in terms of sheer gorgeousness.

We stopped at this super cute, hole-in-the-wall cafe called Charly Fresh for some delicious wraps and hot chocolate, then headed over to Stephansplatz for the Ostermarkt (Easter Market) am Hof. Here, several streets are taken over by vendors selling hot drinks, food, and handmade gifts. At least the length of a block (streets aren’t laid out in blocks here like they are in the U.S., but I don’t know what else to compare it to) is absolutely covered in crates holding the most beautifully hand-decorated Easter eggs I’ve ever seen. We tried to resist spending money and totally failed — we brought home 5 eggs. I’m still not sorry about it!

The weather is still really cold, but it doesn’t make the Easter season any less charming here in Vienna. I’m in love!

Happy Easter, everyone!

Vienna

Grüßie!

I’m finally beginning to settle a bit more here in Vienna, where I’ve been living for about a month. Things have been hectic, crazy, and wonderful. I’m falling in love with this city — I’m a 20 minute metro ride to Stephansplatz, where you step off the train to the sight of massive Stephansdom, where Mozart and Constanze got married, and the bustle of life in the city center. All the shops and restaurants in this area are in buildings of 1700’s-era architecture… even the McDonald’s (no joke!). There are music shops galore and tourist shops that feature items from shot glasses to wall clocks, all with Mozart’s face plastered on them. Around the corner, you can buy real sachertorte from the Sacher Hotel, or if tasty gelato is more your style, you can get that, too.

I think I’ve found my heaven.

Last week, we opened our run of Die Hochzeit des Figaro (aka Le Nozze di Figaro, aka The Marriage of Figaro… in Austria and Germany, I’m learning everything should be performed auf Deutsch). I’m working with fantastic singers and orchestra musicians. I’m also in the unique situation of living with several of my coworkers! It feels very home-y here, and it’s nice to work and live with such talented musicians who also happen to be great people.

I plan to post updates much more frequently than I have over the past couple months; now that the dust has settled a bit (and my visa application has been approved!), I’ll have more time to dedicate to writing about my experience here.

One of the things that strikes me most about Vienna is that the people are extremely friendly and willing to help (I made this observation to a Viennese coworker who said, “Really?!” and laughed, but it has truly been my experience!)

Even applying for my visa was pretty pain-free. Granted, I had taken the time to make sure all my documents were present and organized, plus I took my German-fluent boyfriend with me to help translate things I couldn’t say, but still— it’s nice to know what’s involved with this expat process, because there’s really a ton!

Anyway, here’s a pic of me in my costume from last night’s performance. The audience was fun and responsive! It helped that Mozart really slayed comic opera during his time…

Susanna costume

Apologies for the poor quality of the photo… had to take it with an iPhone because I didn’t have my camera!

Til next time…

2015

I have been SO bad about updating my blog over the past few months. Since my last post, things have happened at a whirlwind pace: I traveled back home to the USA, I celebrated a birthday (24 — does this mean I’m mid-twenties now?), I performed the soprano solo in Mozart Requiem (a bucket list piece!!!) at my Alma Mater, I subbed for a week in the Fine Arts department of this really amazing private high school (that I wish I could rewind and attend as a teenager), I was visited for a week by my sweet Jacco and by my best friend who lives too many states away, and I started the advanced classes in the yoga app on my phone (shamelessly adding this as a “hashtag humble brag” moment — I’m just pretty proud of this accomplishment).

One of my most exciting updates is that I’ve been hired to sing Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro (auf Deutsch!!! yayyy Germlish!) in Vienna, Austria, this coming year, and to make things even more miraculously wonderful, Jacco has been hired to play in the orchestra, which means we get to be together — and really be TOGETHER — for at least nine months this year. We’ve said a lot of prayers last year that we wouldn’t continue to be kept apart in 2015 due to life’s many obligations and necessities, and we’re very thankful for this opportunity. Things have seemed to fall into place beautifully — and not to sound pessimistic (I like to think of it as realistic, thank you), but I’ve had this persistent thought in the back of my head that something is bound to go wrong at some point, since things have seemed so right.

Sadly, my grandmother was diagnosed with advanced brain cancer last week, which makes the prospect of leaving soon seem very bleak and uninviting. I’m constantly amazed at how much willpower this woman has — she is still as sassy, funny, and sweet as ever, and she is determined to fight this thing out as long as she possibly can. I’m so inspired by her, and always have been, but these past few days have made me realize that, as someone who is carrying her genes, I have an obligation to my family to remain strong, positive, and thankful for God’s blessings as long as I live. I recently gave her a hard-carved Christmas decoration from Dresden, which she thankfully loved, and she told me with a wink to bring her another one from Austria next year. She’s never flown in a plane, let alone been to Europe — but she has arguably been the most supportive person about my travel experiences over the past few years. She told me she would live vicariously through me this year as I explore Austria, so I intend to have the fullest adventure I possibly can, if only to tell my grandmother the stories when I get back.

So, here’s to 2015! I look forward to the adventures you bring.

Poem Time with Me

I have now been here for six weeks this fall, and time has gone by so quickly I can hardly believe it. So today, since I had an extremely stressful morning (the lady in the apartment above me flooded her floors, so of course the water dripped down into our apartment and shut off all our power — one thing I definitely haven’t learned in my German lessons is how to explain things to an electrician), I’ve been thinking LOTS about how much I still need to learn in order to really grasp the German language. Most importantly, though, I’ve realized how far I’ve come with my language skills since I first came here last summer. So, I wrote this terrible poem today in remembrance of the me who absolutely could not do really basic things like order German food (thankfully, I’ve moved past that awful part of my past). Here it is:

Schnitzel schnitzel sauerkraut
Wiener please with mustard
I’d really like that Apfelsaft
But now I’m feeling flustered.

See, the food here’s really yummy
And I’d really like to taste it —
But when you can’t speak German,
It’s like all of it is wasted!!

So I’ll keep on looking longingly
At this lovely Deutsch essen
And then I’ll learn to order,
‘Cause now I’ve learned my lesson.

So there’s that — yeah, today has been nuts.