So, I have been in Graz for almost a month. How crazy is that?! University classes start next week, and I have a final in my German class in two days! I have been to what feels like a million meetings and I’ve been trying to get everything ready for the VISA trip that is this coming up all while still trying to do homework and study for class. Although I have been super busy these past couple weeks, I have still been able to travel places, and see some amazing sites. For example I went to Dachstein last weekend and it was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen! I am learning a lot about Austria as the weeks pass, and am constantly experiencing something new.
One of the most interesting things to me this far is going out to eat. There are so many places to eat here in Graz and each place gives a different experience. The dine-in process is a lot different compared to the United States, so much so that one place actually forgot my food and did not bring it out to me even after they knew it was forgotten. When you get to a restaurant you seat yourself, and there are smoking sections and non-smoking sections in every restaurant. Once you sit down the server takes your drink order and your food order, but once your food comes out they don’t check on you. If you need something you have to get their attention, and it is the same with paying. Every time I go out to eat with people we contemplate who is going to get the servers attention to pay and it takes us at least 1o minutes to get their attention. I have a friends from Brazil who raises her hand when she wants something, and that is not common here or in the U.S. but it is in Brazil. The cultural differences like that are not easy to get used to, and every one still has their mannerisms that make some of the people at restaurants laugh.
I am learning a lot, but the most significant thing I have learned in the weeks here is to just go for it when speaking German and to not automatically resort to English. I got here and completely froze when people would speak to me in German. It seemed like all I was able to remember was “Sprechen Sie Englisch?”, and I milked that for a while until I realized I should not be doing that. I am getting a lot more comfortable with using German in everyday life situations, but it was intimidating for a few weeks. It took me about two weeks to figure out how people were saying “to go” in German when ordering food. I FINALLY started to understand the dialect and realized “oh, they are saying zu mitnehmen“. I felt so stupid because when you know the basics of German the phrase makes so much sense, but I just could not understand for the longest time! So, I have been using German much more after a month of being here, and it’s helping me in so many ways.
Bis Später! 🙂