For the past few days, I’ve been out of town. Not for my class trip to Brussels—that’s tomorrow—but for another enjoyable adventure. Last week, we had the Fulbright’s Altenmarkt Seminar in American Studies, held in the adorable little village of Altenmarkt in Pongau, in Salzburg (it’s both a city and a federal state, in case you were wondering). And when I say this village is little, I really mean it—the whole place was basically just two streets and the surrounding hiking paths.
The purpose of the seminar is to get together all of the Fulbright grantees studying or researching in Austria, with those Austrian students who are about to head off to the US, as well as Austrian students in American Studies that may be interested. The whole seminar took place in Haus Burgenland, which used to belong to the government of Burgenland (another federal state), to be used for their schoolchildren’s annual ski trips (because this is Austria, and ski trips are part of the curriculum). Sadly, we were the last group to stay in Haus Burgenland, as it’s closing down now. It was a lovely little place, very Germanic in a 1970s sort of way, with great views of the surrounding countryside and really good food.
The seminar lasted for three days, with lectures by several of the American scholars on a variety of topics, like marriage and migration in America, gender and race in Berstein’s use of the blues, and why Eurovision never really caught on in America (which included the wonderful line “Eurovision: It’s not gay, it’s European!”). It was a great opportunity to meet the other scholars and Austrian students, as well as catching up with the other American grantees from my orientation. We had a great time hiking the nearby hills, eating junk food, accidentally getting locked in bus bathrooms that we apparently shouldn’t have been able to use (Peter).
Now I’m back, and it’s a couple of days of resting up (I picked up an unfortunate cold the second day of the seminar) and getting ready for the trip to Brussels tomorrow. Laundry, dishes, charging my cell phone…it’s all terribly boring for you, so why don’t I just leave you with a couple of lovely photographs while I begin my Belgian-themed cultural binge? (Note: it involves chocolate, waffles, Hercule Poirot, and the movie In Bruges.)