Friday, January 20, 2012

Of Super Bowls and bits of snow

As January continued, "advertisement" and "media" became the topic of discussion in many a class. Naturally, this resulted in discussions of the Superbowl and the Superbowl commercials. For the first time, I noticed many of the boys in class sit up a little bit straighter and their eyes shine with interest in this strange sport called football. Americans, peh, so strange.

In the 5th class (Freshmen) they debated the purpose of the Superbowl...was all of the money spent on it by advertisers really worth it? Honestly, it was rather shocking to read about the millions of dollar it costs just for 2minutes of commercial air time. That's not to mention the amount spent on the half-time show each year.

In the 6th class (Sophomores) we focused mainly on advertising techniques, which meant watching a series of former Superbowl commercials in order to analyze them. This is the class that particularly enjoys the blank stare of death, but for this lesson they were perched on the edges of their chairs, laughing at the antics of the actors, or frowning in confusion at Budweiser horses and dogs. But what do horses have to do with beer? Americans!

Another week came to an end, and I found myself rushing off to a conference at the Pädagogische Hochschule (the college for future educators) after teaching first period.

Sally, the woman in charge of us at orientation, had come down from Salzburg to give us additional teaching ideas and have us discuss our successes and our failures thus far.

So, fighting my way across Klagenfurt through the wall of wind, thinking about the minutes that continued to tick by, I arrived a bit blustery at the conference room, only to be the first one to arrive.

Cheerful Sally and I waited and, finally, a few people trickled in. As Sally opened the conference, I was in the hall trying to direct the rest of the gang to the hard-to-find building and essentially hidden entrance. Eventually, everyone made it, with the exception of Robert, who once again, mysteriously disappeared and Riannon, who had to sort out paperwork at her school.
The conference continued with discussions of our various school placements. Interestingly enough, one girl was placed part of the week in the specialty gun school in Ferlach (the town where my grandfather grew up, just outside of Klagenfurt). She plied us with stories of walking in to school and boys excitingly showing her various guns, which they are allowed to carry around for the entirety of the school day.

As we continued, suddenly the someone in the room gasped and all heads turned towards the window, where snow was falling steadily, in great, big, fluffy clumps.

By the time we took our lunch break, we found ourselves waddling through the snow towards Benediktinerplatz to a restaurant on the corner. We all squished in around the table, as the snow continued to gently fall from the sea of gray clouds. Riannon called and I ran out into the fresh snow to find her, leading her back to the Restaurant. All together at last, we made our orders in the hustle and bustle of the lunch crowd and settled into various conversations.

Returning to the conference room for the remainder of the afternoon, we covered various English speaking games, as well as videos with British Humor or other educational benefits.
Before we knew it, we were saying goodbye to Sally and one group peeled off to have coffee, while another group headed back to the house with me. We snacked and re-grouped, before dragging suitcases of bedding and a pie off to Wolfsberg for the evening.

Once there, we had a Chili dinner with everyone that came
me, Catherine, Emil, Nicole, Elisabeth, Matt, and Chris (and Jade was hiding in the next room)

And for dessert the pecan pie I made

And we all got a little silly as we wished Jade goodbye and good luck in Spain. Chris and Emil even serenaded her with Kärntner Landeshymn and Jade placed the Kärnter Flag over them.

The next morning the boys headed off to Graz, while the girls bummed around Wolfsberg, taking long walks, making pancakes, and cooking Schnitzel for dinner...

Everyone else left in the afternoon, except for me and Lora. Catherine went off to her school's ball.
That left three of us to make our way through the night to listen to Gugga music. Unfortunately, at the last minute, Lora wasn't feeling well, so Chris and I headed off to town. Running a bit late we slid along the icy streets, following the sounds of drums. We approached the town center and discovered rows of torches burning in old tin pie plates, pointing the way towards the continuation of the parade of fanciful characters from various European countries. It was something akin to a war between several different marching bands, except everyone was dressed in crazy colors and costumes instead of uniforms. One group was even decked out in jungle-outfits with snakes, trees, and monkeys hanging from their clothing. All of the bands converged on the town square and proceeded to play at the same time, each one trying to out play the other in a cacophony of sounds erupting from small pods of color in the crowd. Each band then slowly split off and moved throughout the town, luring parts of the crowd towards them, before moving onwards and being replaced by another band. As onlookers jumped in excitement to the music, I found my self hopping around just to keep from freezing.

Chris and I made our way back to the dorm, where he and Catherine live and hung around with Lora watching movies until all three of us were too tired to keep our eyes open any more.

The following day, the four of us spent hiking around the Koralpe, the famous mountain of the Lavantal, before Lora and I headed back to Klagenfurt.

The week had finally come...the week with the last day of German class. Part of me felt sad to leave my fellow German students, but another part of me was relieved not to have to take the long trek out to the University in the evening.
Our last class was spent simply eating and talking to each other. Evikka, a student from the Czech Republic, and I spent the entire time trading stories and it turns out she once lived in Park Ridge (which happens to be where my grandmother lives) for several years and attended the Oakton Community College at one point. Now, she's moving to Innsbruck with her Austrian boyfriend and hopes to complete her degree in translation...she just has to learn French.

Deutsch als Fremdsprache class, Goodbye to my German class at the Klagenfurt University

In honor of the Superbowl, we hosted a small Superbowl party and played board games, while eating all kinds of snacks and the roast goose I had made. Vicky, who had been living in Vienna, moved to Klagenfurt and we fed her and helped her learn her way around Klagenfurt.
This is Emil making everyone sing to 7 Brides for 7 Brothers songs...

Soon, it was the day before Feb. break and I found myself walking through the bitter cold to Bachmanngymnasium, where the 8th class and I were about to watch Pitch Black, a play written and performed by the Vienna English Theater. Essentially, it is a re-interpretation of Othello set in modern day and centered around English football.

Back at school, I warmed my fingers by the heater, as one of my colleagues approached me about correcting a Fachbereicharbeit, a special 40-60page paper written by students who hope to graduate at the end of the year. The only catch...I'd have to do it over break. I agreed, thinking of the long return journey to Ilmenau and hurried home back through the ultra chilly air and arrived only a few minutes ahead of the Hilberts.
We ate my beef stew for lunch, packed my things in the car, and headed off for Ramsau, a town famous for skiing in the state of Steiermark in Austria.

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