Much though I loved my first week in Vienna, I am so incredibly glad that it’s over. Mostly, because it means that I am now moved into my (massive) room at the Diplomatic Academy. Seriously, everyone, this place is insane. The ceilings are over ten feet high, hardwood floors, and windows that take up most of one wall (the curtains look like they come from a Days Inn from the 90’s, but you can’t win them all). I do want to keep it from feeling cavernous, though, so as I start squirreling away a little money for it, I want to do a bit of decorating that keeps it on a more intimate, human scale: bunting or Christmas lights to mark of my ‘ceiling’, a rug or two, some blankets and pillows, and hanging up all of the pretty things I bought while I was in England with Boo (Bryony, over at A Series of Beginnings—check it out!).
For now, though, I’m mostly working on unpacking ALL OF THE THINGS, because there are a lot of them, and sadly, most of them need ironing after having been squashed in my suitcase for almost three weeks. I don’t really iron, people. It’s not really my ‘thing’. As in, when I first learned to iron a shirt properly, I was 20. I still do it one-handed, so that my other hand can keep my copy of How to Sew on a Button open to the page on how you’re supposed to iron a shirt. Nevertheless, needs must, so ironing is on the agenda.
Also on the agenda? More exploring of the neighborhood. The DA is located in Vienna’s fourth district, known as Wieden. It used to be in the Soviet quarter of the city after WWII, and apparently Johann Strauss (he of the famous waltzes) used to live here as well. Nowadays, our bit of the neighborhood is really ethnically diverse: small Chinese restaurants, Polish and Russian grocery stores, and Turkish kebab shops abound. It feels nice and ordinary, like people actually hang out in these cafés or shop at these stores while going about their daily lives. It makes talking to people less intimidating.
Finally, I’m getting geared up for the start of classes on Monday. I had a meeting with my academic advisor today (who is also American, and went to Johns Hopkins), and he has helped me get out of doing my political science classes in French! Given that I tested into the lowest level yesterday, that’s probably for the best. Instead, I’ll be doing the English-language courses with the master’s-program students, as well as a seminar on security challenges in the 21stcentury, which sounds really exciting. Less exciting is the fact that the schedule of classes is not fixed—professors can change the time of classes, so my classes don’t necessarily meet at the same day or time from week to week. Now, all I need to do is finish up with my residency permit stuff and buy my student transit pass, and I’ll be all set up! Oh, and buy a phone. And buy school supplies…sigh. I’m nowhere near being completely “ready”, but I’m feeling a lot more confident about it than I was earlier in the week.