October 5, 2007

Wir haben eine Wohnung - We have an apartment!

Today I really started to feel like I will actually be living here, which was both a bit scary and very exciting.

I had my first day of school today. Even though I am still not registered, I went to one of the lecture classes where they are not supposed to take attendance. My first contact with another student was as the other students and I were waiting in the hallway where the classroom was supposed to be. The only other student who wasn't talking with friends in German turned to me to ask, "Is this class in English?" To which I replied, "I hope so." It was. In fact, the lecture was much less intimidating and even less foreign to me than I had expected. It was basically like being at a North American university, except that I was the only native English speaker. The course was Review of American Literature, and the topic this Semester is the 19th Century Concept of the American Frontier. When the American professor asked, "What is an American?" I looked around at the other silent students and thought about the reaction that that question would have caused in a Canadian classroom. People were more forthcoming with answers than I would have expected in a Canadian classroom, but there were also less people, so maybe this is just one of the differences. I found it strange listening to this American woman describe her America, while sitting in a European classroom. In response to her question, people provided both positive and negative interpretations of what an American is, but only the positive descriptions made it to the blackboard. As we discussed the racism and the status of women in the 19th century, it became more clear to me that, along the fact that I have already taken an American Literature class, this is not a class that I would like to register in once I am admitted to UniGraz.Despite this, I'm glad that I went because it made me realize that an Austrian university is actually not much more intimidating than a Canadian university, and, as an added bonus, I made friends with the boy who spoke English to me in the hallway. His name is Josef and he is from the Czech Republic.

After school I came back to Christian's parents house for Mittagessen, and then we had a post lunch nap. Life here is pretty good. Post-nap we went to see the apartment that we visited yesterday again, to confirm that the tram line that goes down the street in front of our house isn't excessively loud. It's not, and I'm glad because I really like the apartment. Reitschulgasse 7 is the address, which is the first part that I like because it means "riding school avenue", and we are apartment 1. The first thing that I will say about the apartment itself, and I am sure you will understand, is that the landlord is really really really nice. I hope that I am not jinxing it by saying that, but as soon as we had given him the deposit, after a nice visit where he and Christian discussed the lease and asked all the important questions, he gave us a bottle of wine! It is such a relief that I think that even if the apartment were half as nice, I would have been happy to take it. Fortunately, though, we liked the apartment even before we met the landlord.

It is pretty close to the city centre, near Jakominiplatz, which is where the trams meet -- but not sketchy, so don't worry. The building itself is old, pretty and light blue. There are three floors; our apartment is on the second. When you walk in, the kitchen is directly to your left. There is a bar with two stools, which was Christian's favourite part. Straight ahead is the bathroom, and then there is a short hallway that goes to the left, towards the living room. The ceilings are high, and the doorways are the old wood frames that open in the middle. They make it feel nice and old, even though the kitchen and the bathroom are new. So, the living room is quite big, about twice the size of my room in Montreal. At the far end of the living room from its entrance is a door that goes in to the bedroom. The bedroom has a window facing the street, and is big enough for two people not to be crammed with their things. On top of being happy with the apartment, the rent is low, and the people that are leaving would like to leave behind lots of things like the stools for the bar, a couch, the curtain rods, etc. The lease will start November 1st, but the tenants are hoping to move sooner than that, so we will probably move around the middle of the month. All things considered, I think we have made a really good choice.

I am excited to actually be able to finally unpack my suitcases! Living with Christian's parents has been really nice, and very convenient, but it being here feels much more real to me now that we have our own place. It is easy to imagine myself studying in a corner of the living room or getting ready to go out or serving drinks at the bar in the kitchen.

I'll post pictures as soon as I have some, which will probably be sometime next week.

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