Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Kevin - October German & English

Diesen Monat habe ich viel gemacht. Zuerst begonn ich mit dem Unterricht. Alles ist nicht sehr leicht, und ich habe schon viel Hausübung schon gemacht. Ich habe auch viele Studenten im Studentenhem getroffen, und mit ihnen gesprochen (auf Deutsch, natürlich!), aber ich habe auch ein bisschen Englisch gesprochen.

Die erste Woche war sehr schwierig, wiel es nicht so leicht war, meine Kurs zu finden. Die nächste Woche, war ein bisschen leichter.

Die beste Geschichte, die ich habe, war als ich mein Visum abgehlt habe. Es war sehr kompliziert und ich habe viel von Wien gesehen. Das erste Mal, als ich vesuchte es zu finden, war in meiner ersten Woche in Wien. Sie sagten, dass ich zu noch einem Gebäude gehen muss (Fickey Straße). Sie haben gesagt, dass ich zu einem Gebäude gehen muss (dieses mal war es Hietzing). In der nähe von dem Richtigen Gebäude habe ich mich verirrt (nicht verirrt, aber ich habe das Gebäude nicht gefunden), und habe einen Plizisten gefragt. Er war nett and hat mir den weg gezeigt. Im Gebäude habe ich eine Nummer genommen, und in noch einer Schlange gewartet. Weil ich eine Nummer genommen habe (57a denke ich), glaubte ich, das macht nichts. Sie haben meine Nummer nicht gesehen, als ich vor dem Büro gewartet habe. Es war sehr interessant. Als ich ins Büro gegangedn bin, habe ich gefragt, „Ich habe seit seit Junit schon alles geschrieben.“ Ich hatte Angst, denn ich wusste nicht, was er fragen wird. Er sagte „Kevin David Wong“ und dann sagte er, dass alle okay war. Es war noch nicht alles fertig, aber sie haben mir vor zwei Wochen einen Brief geschickt. Ich habe meine neues Visum abgeholt (es ist sehr schön aber zu dunkel), und einhundert Euro bezahlt (Das ist nicht billig). Es war sehr interessant und ich bin der erste Student mit einem Visum für das ganze Jahr (bis Mai). Die anderen Studenten, die hier in Wien gewartet haben, haben einige Probleme. Sie haben einen Brief bekommen, in dem steht, dass noch einmal kommen müssen, um die Seiten zu schreiben.

Meine Kurse interessieren mich. Es ist gut in Wien zu leben und auch in Wien Geschichte zu lernen. Ich kann alles sehen und beides lernen. In meinem Klassichen Symphonie-Kurs, gibt es viel Haus Übung. Ich muss viele texte lesen und viel Musik untersuchen. Für meine Kurse haben wir auch viele ausflüge gemacht. Mein Historischer Unterricht ist in einen Burg und in einem Kloster gewesen. Unser Deutsch-Unterricht ist im Kino Gewesen. Es war auch sehr interessant und der Film hieß „Das Parfum“. Es ist interessant, einen Film Auf Deutsch zu sehen und zu hören. Weil der Film auf Englisch war, war es interessant auf den Mund zu sehen. Deshalb wenn es geht nicht mit die Dialoge. Ich habe die Satz-Struktur verstanden, aber es gibt zu viele Worte, die ich noch nicht gewusst habe.

Deutsch ist mein Lieblings Kurs, weil die Lehrerin sehr viel Energie hat. Ich möchte immer intensiv Deutsch-Kurs machen, denn ich kann so mein Deutsch (Schneller) verbessen. Es ist Schwerer um mein deutsch zum vergessen weil ich zu viel Zeit mit meinen anderen Kursen verbracht habe. Ich habe viel Klavier geübt.

Though I would love to continue writing in German, I’m not sure it is helping too many people (except me). I think I am still enjoying Vienna. Every couple of weeks I may have a couple of bad days, but everything seems very positive. Culture-shock is also not as much of a shock when you have studied it and are more prepared. I think I may have come here being a little bit too prepared, but then again full year students may be on a little different schedule for culture shock.

I have been able to meet many Austrian students in specifically my floor of the dorm. With 160 students it is not easy to go to each floor and meet everyone. Some of the most interesting people have been another international student from Bosnia (we speak mostly in English), and we have both agreed about the importance of cultural education and experiencing different culture. It’s interesting to compare and talk about the difference between both American, Austrian, Bosnian, and even a little bit about German culture (I haven’t met any Germans yet but I get a little bit of an idea when talking to other students.

In regard with the language, there happen to be 2-3 people I know from Salzburg, 5-6 people from lower Austria, a couple from upper Austria and one from Carinthia. I know about 3-4 Austrian students who speak exclusively in High German, and even so with their friends (they are the easiest for me to understand). Other students seem to have a highbred of high-german and dialect when speaking with me, and they speak completely in dialect with the other students. I have to be careful sometimes, because I say “Ja” (yes) in a sort of Salzburg way, and when I do that people respond completely in dialect, then I just say “ach so” or “genau” if I get the gist of what they are saying.

An interesting experience (though quite recent and not oktober) was in the Post office. When packages are mailed to us we have to pick them up at the post office. I had ordered a book from Amazon in Germany, and it had arrived. However at the post office the man was spending 10 minutes looking for it. Another lady in line (from Australia) asked the clerk if she spoke English. She said “a little bit” and didn’t seem too happy. Because the lady from Australia didn’t speak any German, I then, bravely, offered myself to translate. She only wanted to know how much it would cost, how much more it would cost with a pair of shoes and if her box was good enough. Everything was going ok, then the clerk started yelling at the Australian in German, and then she started yelling at me too… It was Komische afterwards. Though most clerks seem to be pretty kind, she is always a Meisepeter (crab), from what I have seen. She yells at her own colleagues, including a few other students who have been there. It turns out that hey can’t find my package anyway, and will probably call me on Monday (not a big deal was only 4 euros anyway).

I finished my midterms this last week, and it’s nice to have a few days in a row off. However I have been occupying myself with a new project for the Classical Symphony class I am taking. Our class is currently trying to put together an edition of an unpublished symphony by a Vienna native. It has been quite an experience to go to the national library, look through actual manuscripts of music over 200 years old, and research with very good research (I’m actually now a member of the library). I have also finally had the chance to go to the art Museum. It’s more enjoyable having a museum pass and being able to spend an extended period of time here. Most people try to see everything in one day, they get tired, lost, walk in circles, and then they are completely unsatisfied (like trying to see the Louvre in one day- don’t ever try it). My museum pass allows me unlimited use. Therefore I go when I want, may only see one painting, and then go. For example, last Friday, I spent 20 minutes looking at two paintings in the new collection. That is the way to enjoy, people trying to see anything don’t enjoy, and they just skim over (kind of like trying to see all of Europe in a month and spending a few days to a week in each city trying to see everything).

I am observing culture shock in many students, and it’s too bad that they never even took a preparation course. Most of them have only had a 2 hour orientation at their home schools, and they say it was of no use anyway. Some students have difficulty with the language, some people get homesick, and others miss culture things from home. I seem unusual in that I’m not homesick or missing anything. I have created my own routines concerning things that I eat, when I practice, and taking walks etc. Everyone has their own coping devices and adjusts a little bit differently to new culture (especially depending how different the new culture is).

20 Comments:

Anonymous Eddie Breitweiser said...

Hey Kevin, I was wondering - Did the conservatory give you a course schedule, or did you have to plick classes yourself? How about setting up lessons?

- Eddie

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eddie,

When one wants to take classes at the conservatory, one only has to choose and signup, I am not sure if some classes have required prerequisites. In terms of lessons, I dont take lessons at the conservatory and have set that up on myown. IES has a stipend that paysfor a portion of my lessons, and I can choose the teacher.

Another interesting point is, though Vienna may have been the capital of music (and still is in many cases), that doesnt mean they necessarily offer the best education, nor always the best quality of music. Indiana University is a world famous music school, if not the best, and we have a hand full of students from Indiana studying here. One of the coaches asked a vocal student why she was here if she went to Indiana. Though she may have been receiving better attention and training in the American Institution, Studying abroad is a way to certainly enrich one's self culturally. Dont get too hung up with music lessons, practicing, etc. Remember that Gradschool is generally for specific and only concentrated work in one subject. Now is the chance to explore in ways that are simply not possible later on. That is possibly another lesson why I may not be participating directly in music next semester (though still practicing). I,infact, have prioritized my acquisition to 'that awful German Language'(Mark Twaine) over my music (atleast for now). I practice more German (1-1.5 hours in addition to german homework) every day (those these cases arejust driving me crazy-especially with adjective endings ugh!!!).

I dont even practice an hour a day (most days now) especially with the semester closing to an end soon. Therefore, I may not even be much more technically advanced, but having the experiencedefinitely affects the way one plays music.

That is one of the nice things about going to an american Liberal arts College. Being able to apply one's self in other areas too! I hope this isnt too philosophical answer for you...

4:30 PM  
Blogger David Kelsey said...

Hey Kevin,

Hello there. Like you, I also speek German. I am in 302 right now. Several people have mentioned to me that it was difficult to understand the Austrian accent. They say that it is very 'rough'. Do you feel that this is correct?

Also, where have you traveled to? I am curious to see where I should go! Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks
~David~

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some people find that Austrian German is a little bit more beautiful then regular hoch german, even with just an accent and not a dialect. I have found it in four different phases. One being annoying, unclear, interesting, frustrating and finally a necessary part of the culture which is becoming less in the coming years anyway. Not only will the accent be frustrating as certain words run into other words differently, but when they speak in dialect it will be, at first, unrecognizable (well every few words one can understand).

I happen to be in Salzburg right now and will be traveling to switzerland tommorrow. I will comment more when I am not using a limited internet connection

2:23 PM  
Blogger Ashley Egert said...

Kevin,
Hello, I will be going to Austria in the fall of 08. I can't wait for the experiance. I'm just wondering you mentioned you came to austria too prepared. What did you mean by that? Did you bring too much or have a different opionion on what the life style would have been like. I'm also interested in learning how you made the switch from learning in English to learning in German, along with the full onslaught of the german language?

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps in being too prepared that was meant in a good way- the positive side of the prep. class- but also depends on how much you put into it. There are manythings that one can absolutely not prepare for, such as just getting used to it. It seemed to take most of the first semester to feel like I was really in the swing of things because when I came back in January, it felt quite different. Going home for 2 weeks didnt seem like it required much adjustment because it was just a simple vacation (two weeks wont induce reverse culture shock).

Another note- I have been through two different german speaking cities recently (last couple of days) Zurich and Salzburg. Getting into the swing of things seemed much easier than(then-I forget which) the first time. I find comfort in jumping on the strassebahn (or tram or whatever they call it here) with no fear, even if I dont know where I am going.

I was also very well prepared in that I had given myself crash german learnin (about an hour a day) during the summer which helped me GET IN TO IT. During the first three weeks we only took intensiv german classes but it seemed like it took even longer than that for me to get into GERman Moode. (probably took most of the fist sememster to get into this moode(I cant spell anymore eitehr)). Youll find that understanding and hearing eversingle word are two different things (difference between communication and language). Pay attention to body language and etc. and youll find that the austrians can be easy to understand -even if you didnt hear every single word. By the second semester I found it much easier and now I take multiple classes in German (german theatre, Musik in Wien, and OCmposition 305) in german. As a good preparation, start watching things dubbed in german during the summer, listen to music etc, anything that one can do just to get used to listening to it. I have had a great deal of annoyance with this strange language too!

german wasnt full onslaught with me because I was still allowed to take classes In english (thank god I couldnt read a word last august, much less write anything that made sense). Being my second semester, I dont find it too impossible to get into it, perhaps this depends on the person.

3:10 PM  
Blogger David Kelsey said...

Hey there

I hope that you are enjoying your Easter weekend. First of all, do you enjoy traveling in Europe?? Where would you recommend to go?? Also, how to you overcome home sickess. That is one aspect that I am really worried about. Have a great day!
In addition, what classes do you think I should take. I could take classes in Literature, Geography, Art, Politics, History, and Current Events. What do you recommend is the best? What classes are you urrently taking??
Thanks
~David~

1:48 PM  
Blogger Ashley said...

Kevin,

I have to say even though it is only a single example of an interaction with an Austrian, I am still a little unnerved by it. How do most people react if you happen to use English, as my German still needs quite a bit of improvement?

6:11 PM  
Blogger Ashley Egert said...

Kevin,
thanks for the great comment on my other post. It was really helpful. Right now we are currently picking our classes for next semester and I'm a little worried that taking 4 classes is going to be overwhelming. How much homework do you get on a week to week base? Or what classes do you recommend we should take to get the full dose of the university. Another quick question is what are you doing about communication over there. I'm thinking about getting a cell phone, but i've heard that can get expensive. What would you think would be the best/cheapest way for that? Thanks again for the time, and I look foward to hearing from you.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin,

It seems like you were more prepared than other students at handling culture shock. Besides knowing the language, what do you think is most important to know ahead of time to prepare for culture shock?

Also, the longest flight I have been on has been about 3 hours, but in the fall I'll be going to Australia. So I have quite a long flight, how was the flight to Germany? Did you get restless, sleep a lot, read... how did you deal with it?

Thanks,
Alison

12:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David,

I suppose there are a couple of forms of traveling and one is bound to find something. For example there are many people who backpack around, hop on trains and go from hostel to hostel. And there are those who hop on trains or plains every weekend and go to a different country. Lastly, there are those people such as myself who don’t travel much but manage to travel.

I have enjoyed my traveling so far, and it gives one opportunity to see many things which aren’t always available (it has also given me an urge to see what there is actually in the states). But also remember that it can also be exhausting. I have picked a few destinations and leave time in my vacation for relaxation to. For example, my last trip through Salzburg and Zurich, I traveled by myself. I stayed in Salzburg for three days, met a friend-who showed me around the city and also got lost- on the second, and completely relaxed the third (that means not a lot of touring or picture making). In Switzerland I met another friend on the first day, toured the inner city, saw churches, and on the third day I only took a walk and tried to relax. This trip was done completely by train (3.5 to Salzburg, overnight to Switzerland, and an overnight back to Vienna), and with this schedule one can also sleep in the train (saving money on hostels).- still by the end I was tired and happy to be back.

It is quite interesting to be traveling alone and on the way to the next destination. This I would not recommend for a woman alone, as I have seen unsettling behavior from other strange travelers in the transtations at night time (Probably every trainstation in Europe will be like this).

Places that one can see can be fascinating, but also keep in mind whether one wants to spend time getting to know other natives (which isn’t exactly easy in Austria).

With homesickness, perhaps it is a good idea to bring some pictures, cd’s/music etc. to remind you of home. You can keep yourself busy and constantly meet other people. This part is hard for me to explain because I didn’t actually experience homesickness as I went to Austria, but will probably get a good deal of it when I go back to the states. People over here already tell me they’re going to miss me (what have I gotten myself into?), so perhaps I can answer this question by the end of the summer.

I would recommend that you take classes that interest you and can also involve you in the immediate culture in which you are exposed to and perhaps no classes which have anything to do with your major (depends). Right now I’m taking three classes in German and two classes in English. German CompConv305, German Theater (in german), Musik In wien (German), Music Theory (English), and Instrumental Performance workshop (English). Where is the study abroad destination? That would make it easier to make any course suggestions (not that I can make good recommendations anyway).

Kevin

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ashley,

If one has to go to English, I would start in German and then ask them if they understand English (I have done this before). I’ve seen all types of reactions. For example, some people will already respond in English (bigger tourist places, café’s etc.) because they will already recognize your American accent. The other interesting story- I was in the post office waiting to pick up a package, which the post office had lost anyway. An Australian was in line and couldn’t speak a word of German. She got yelled at, and I tried to help her and got yelled at too. The post office is one exception. Most people will try to be as helpful as possible. A problem in Wien would be that many people speak schlimm German. There are quite a few foreigners and I find their ausprache quite poor. They may have good or poor English too.

Kevin

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ashley Eggert,
The music theory class- not much work very manageable, Musik in Wien- literally no homework, a couple of essays, but an oral midterm and written final, Theater- a good deal of hard reading 20-40 pages per class session (even hard for the Germans) and essays for each performance (every couple of weeks), Music Workshop- 1-3 hours of practicing a night- but I don’t even practice half as much as I did in the states, and for Language- it depends on the level, I can get by, though I work more, with an hour of study/homework for each class session.

Are you studying with IES Vienna or are you doing a program in Salzburg?
All of the university courses (almost all) are 2 lecture hours per week of credit and they only meet once per week. I wouldn’t recommend anyone, as an American student trying to understand the language, taking a full load of university courses because that would require one to take 8 courses to fulfill our minimum requirements. There are good teachers, and need to be at the University, but what they teach often has nothing to do with what is on the test. Most classes require no work along the way and the professors expect the students to read materials, recommended books, and learn the subjects by themselves. In the end the students have to take the test which determines whether they will earn credit for the course.

Most of the students don’t even go to class (and I don’t blame them either). The students that do well may spend a lot of time learning on their own. Grades don’t matter in Austria so their marking for passing (genug or D in the states) is satisfying. Not as expensive for college, so students will spend a lot of time in the university (5 or more years earning the first degree). They can also take the test whenever they want and retake it if they don’t pass (probably not an option for foreign students from Elmhurst College).

The second problem with taking a full load of university courses in Vienna is that the university is scattered around the whole city, and finding one’s classes will be quite disorienting.

Communication- Well IES makes their students get cell phones, and I happened to rent their phone from Piccelwireles (or whatever it’s called) which has outrageous rates. I do most of my communication via internet and for Austrian cellphones, incoming calls are free for the cellphone holder. So when I communicate with home, I receive a call.
Kevin

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alison,

Part of adjusting is not just reading through books or even talking to people, but to even get our own routine in the host country. For example, it took a little while to get comfortable gong through my grocery store routine, and even getting in the swing of cooking for myself (my first rule was that anything could be boiled- including chicken, if done long enough) and just establishing your specific spot, or place in the host culture. Even if one doesn’t leave speaking the language fluently, one can still have a spot in a café three times a week, vaguely know the waitress, and have small talk-conversation. Perhaps one greets other people the way they do in the other culture, but I find that one has truly adjusted when one does these habits without thinking about it.

I hate long airplane rides, and I would rest a night somewhere in the middle of a long flight to Australia (maybe Hawaii- but don’t tell anyone I said that). I find the plane to be quite uncomfortable, no space stretch, impossible to sleep (maybe 15 minutes here and there-depends on the person), and even harder to read. You may also have airport stress, which means you probably dream about lost luggage, missing your connection, and how one finds his way around the airport. The first time I was quite sore. This is probably because I didn’t do the little exercises (for my benefit) that the nice British man recommended. I did the exercises the second time and perhaps that did help with muscle aches. In one long flight (8 hours back to Chicago on the break) I believe I saw one move a bunch of times in many languages with funny looking subtitles (this depends on whether they offer private televisions behind each seat). In that case you’ll probably spend a lot of time looking at their fancy GPS radar and seeing which part of the pacific the airplane hovers.

It certainly doesn’t seem like one is going anywhere sitting in one spot for so long. Infact it seems like all the airports begin to look the same. One only crunches in the plane and appears magically at other airports to run through to the next terminal to squeeze in a small uncomfortable seat. Good luck!

Kevin

5:13 PM  
Blogger David Kelsey said...

Hey there!

Was it hard for you to adjust to the Autrian way of life?? Did you ever feel like you missed America so much that it over whalmed you a little. Basically, have you experienced any culture shock?

Thanks again and have a great day!

David

6:30 PM  
Blogger Ashley Egert said...

Kevin,
How long did it take you to get use to the Austrian way of life? Did you ever experience culture shock in any form?

Ashley

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have actually enjoyed trying to get used to Austrian culture, and getting adapted is a different story. When one has adjusted to a culture, there is absolute comfort in what one does, one doesn't feel strange trying to do simple things like speaking on the teleophone, ordering in a cafe, going to the post office, or numerous (uncountable) things that one will be doing in this country. That's the feeling of adaptation is the feeling that one really isn't in a foreign culture anymore.

Culture shock seems to attack in different ways, depending also on the program and host country. Last semester there were many problems dealing with living situations causing a great deal of stress and that's just between american students. Some people have even more trouble because they find German impossible (especially if the yhave never had it before) and may get used to the culture but still be quite frustrated with the language (I have also failed a few quizes in German class). Some people will have trouble adjusting to the University system, if that is what they do. It's hard to explain everything because anything can be possible.

I have had a great deal of trouble with the language and frustration in making myself understood. I was also becoming stressed out with piano (I'm a music major) and had also shortly decided (for some time) that I really didn't want to play anymore. Though this doesn't necessarily have anything to do directly with the culture, I would take that it has something to do with stress involved with adjusting. Dealing with american students can also be frustrating which can also add to the stress of Culture shock.

I would say that after a couple of months one feels adjusted. Because I was in the states for a couple of weeks and came back, I noticed a big difference as I came back the second time. Everything seemed to be in its place.

It's also interesting because I have seen some people who haven't seemed to experience much or any culture shock and go home after a semester, or even a year still romanticizing about Vienna (which for me is nothing to be romanticized about). then on second entry they can be completely dissapointed (as I saw during spring break) because it wasn't how it originally was. Being a student and studying in programs such as IES or ICEP (whatever they happend to be called), is nice and especially with IES. IT's a little bit like an island program in that students don't necessarily have to interact with the culture as much. The way I see it, they get out what they put into it, which is what I have been doing for the last semester and this one also.

Kevin

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't necessarily follow the culture shock "sheet" waiting for certain stages, but better to understand that on your bad days you can blame your bad behavior on something. It's much less for some people, and perhaps more for others, not easy to explain.

Kevin

4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for responding, your insight is really helpful :-)

After reading so much about you adjusting and becoming part of another culture I begin to wonder what your feelings are about coming home. Are you frustrated that you will have to leave the new culture you immersed yourself into? Or do you miss what you left in the states? Do you have more school to continue when you return? If so, do you think it will be difficult to readjust to Elmhurst's classes? ...or am I worrying about the wrong things?!

Thanks,
Alison

11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alison,
I wouldn't necessarily "worry" about anything but it's good that you're thinking about it. Most everyone but one person I knew last semester even though about reentry at all. Infact from what I have seen reentry is often harder than the initial culture shock.

A student I knew in the dorm was looking forward to going home and finishing his classes. I finally corresponded with him via email and he told me he was missing Vienna in a way that it was probably unhealthy.

Another pianist in our program was having a bit of homesickness for three months after returning home and even reapplied for the summer program. She was saying by the end that one really needs the first semester to really adjust, and that was also her first semester in German.

The last person was the one that was already really nervous by the end and I haven't heard from him lately, but the natural reaction is to find some way to come back to vienna in the next coming years. The people that are already missing Vienna are usually the ones figuring out how to come back, whether they apply as student coordinators, look into working (mostly teaching english if you're german isn't fantastic), looking into universities or schools.

I definitely enjoy the gemuetlich (a lot to explain with this definition for another time) way of life in austria and don't look forward to returning to a work -crazed society. I'm not sure what I miss at home, perhaps it is too early to ask this question, because a lot seems to vanish (things that I have given up), and don't reenter the conscious. For example, it takes 20 days to break a habit. Once it is truly broken one doesn't really even think about it anymore. I have strangely no cravings for anything, specific foods or what not.

I suppose one could be frustrated about leaving and even a little bit sad depending on how many connections one has made, but that is the nature of the journey, and I tend to think practically rather than romanticizing about it. Will I come back? I guess so because I found the round trip ticket was 400 dollars cheaper than the one way (that means back to the states and back to Vienna). I guess that means I'll have to keep buying tickets which end up in Vienna (ha).

I planned this little trip (little?) quite late in my college career, I only made the final decision with IES about a year ago. That means that I have to do a semester work anyway. The required class work that I still need is one semester of piano lessons, and a class for Westernculture gen.ed. I also signed up for a couple of german classes- I suppose for the fun of it. What happens next is always a mystery to me.

Kevin

4:30 PM  

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