The German ambassador and I are close

September 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

because he lives across the street and I didn’t close my curtains the other day.  Oops.

That also explains the high security fence and German flag flying outside.   Around the corner lives the Turkish ambassador, and the American ambassador lives nearby as well.  Posh living!

And this is where I live.  It’s not as beautiful but it’s still a really nice building inside.  And the neighborhood is just so quaint

Hietzing center at dawn. Jet lag's a bitch.

I’ve spent the past few days touring around at a really leisurely pace.  I am here for a while so no need to rush anything.

This is the Vienna State Opera.  Tickets are way too expensive but on Wednesday nights they broadcast the opera on a large screen outside and you can watch and listen for free.

The weather here has also been unseasonably great: warm, sunny, and in the mid-70’s.  I’ve done as much outdoors things as possible because first, they’re free, and second, the weather will not last.

On Wednesday I met up with a bunch of Couchsurfers to walk along the Danube canal and photograph the graffiti art, which the Viennese government sponsors.

It's true, the canal is pretty gross.

Today I registered with the Vienna’s CityBike program.  It’s 1 euro to sign up and you can ride a bike around the city for free for an hour; second hour is 1 euro, third hour is 2 euros and so on.  I took a spin around the Prater, an amusement park and wooded park area.

That repeating logo is from the program’s sponsor, Raiffeisen Bank.  Honestly, it looks a bit too close to the fascist crossed hammer logo from Pink Floyd’s The Wall for my liking:

But that’s reading too much into things.  Gonna get my last tourist kicks in this weekend before work starts on Monday.  Centropa’s taking me to Budapest, Hungary for the day.

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Ich bin hier

September 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Isn’t German great?

I took a great walk around my new neighborhood of Hietzing .  This product was definitely the best part

FAT

I know you can buy schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) in America, but wow, that is some shelf.

Ready!

September 26, 2011 § 1 Comment

I kind of left you hanging there with that last post back in June, didn’t I?  Here’s what might have been running through your head:

How did she make it home from Turkey?
A: My dad came, I somehow had enough things to fill 5 suitcases, we took a taxi to Istanbul, Delta gave me a seat with extra leg room,  I saw Newt Gingrich, we arrived at JFK.

How is her leg?
A: Significantly better!  We found a great orthopedist in my town who, contrary to various Turkish doctors, insisted I didn’t need surgery.  I broke my tibia plateau in the best possible least-weight-bearing part of the bone and just needed to wait it out.  That popliteal capsule tear?  NBD.  Calf muscle tear?  It’ll get better.  And it did.  Thanks to a tough physical therapist, her gossipy assistant, a JCC membership, and hours of walking back and forth in the pool, I’m mostly back to normal.  It’ll take a few more months for my quad muscles to be at full strength again (kneeling and crouching are tough), but I can do pretty much everything I used to do.

What did she do all summer?
A: Everything except earn a lot of money.

My cousin Shep got married in Virginia

Shep on the left, my mom in the middle, my uncle playing my crutch like a guitar

I shared a room with my impossibly cute nephew Ari

and he survived!

I spent a good amount of time in New York City, with trips to Philadelphia and Providence

My Turkish friend Elif visited NYC just to make this face

I took the GRE and visited some graduate programs in History

I baked a lot of cookies

and I started to learn German because I’m moving to Austria today.

Back in March I sent an internship application to Centropa, a Jewish history NGO based in Vienna that works to preserve and disseminate Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European Jewish history.  They work with all age groups but primarily schoolchildren across the world to link them to engaging primary resources about 20th century European Jewish life–and, most importantly, people.  Centropa partnered with Istanbul’s Ottoman-Turkish Sephardic Cultural Resource Center (where I volunteered last year) back in 2005 to record extensive oral histories of the community.  You can read more about the partnership and view the resulting exhibit on the blog I created for the center.

One of the coolest tools Centropa produces is videos of subjects’ lives.   Guler Orgun, the Turkish dynamo behind the Ladino newspaper El Amaneser, got the video treatment and you can watch her story here, in Ladino with English subtitles (I tried to embed it, it won’t work, I know you probably won’t click the link but it’s really worth your while!)

So I sent them my resume and they said, “Come!”  Then I broke my leg.  But they waited; it’s almost 4 months later now and my suitcase (only one this time, thanks compression bags!) is packed, I’ve got an apartment lined up, and Air Berlin flies out this afternoon.

Though I’m certainly more prepared this time abroad for language and culture shock, there’ll still be a lot to surprise me in my personal and professional life.  I hope to write in this blog not just about my adventures but also about my experiences confronting a country which has remained fairly verboten in my house.

I leave you with Austria’s greatest contribution to popular music, the indomitable Falco.  See you in a few months, America!

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