November 15, 2007

Housewarming²³

November 11, 2007

Reitschulgasse 7

The past five nights I have slept at my new apartment, something that has taken a long time to achieve. It will be some time yet before the apartment reaches the level of prettiness and homeyness that I anticipate, but sleeping there is good for a start.

On Saturday Christian and I spent about a week at Ikea. It is much harder to start from scratch than to buy things for an empty apartment: we have to find curtains for three different rooms, a table and chairs, a duvet and cover, and, among other things, a way of covering our inherited, unattractive couch. The couch apparently originates from a species of Ikea couches spawned before they wore removable covers. I vacuumed it really well (so that you can stop having nightmares about dust mites, mom), but it has about 18 years worth of spilled drinks and cigarette burns. Unlike the couch, the apartment is still fresh and full of potential. Hopefully we will be able to order our curtains - they have a sewing/hemming service instead of pre-made ones - and then start to feel more at home. Still to be done are hanging some pictures, hopefully painting a wall or two, choosing lights, etc. I think that I will really feel at home once we have the internet there, which will be in about 2 weeks. It seems silly, but having to go somewhere else to use the internet makes it feel unfinished. Nonetheless, waking up in my own apartment - the first time Christian and I have lived just the two of us - is really cool.

As home is coming together, so is school. I am finally enrolled in four classes, plus my German course 18 hours a week. On my timetable are: "Theories Applied to Texts: Herman Melville, Moby-Dick", "James Joyce", "Contemporary British Plays", and the most recent addition "Madness in Literature: From Shakespeare to the Present". I find it funny in Canada mid-terms are over, while I went to my first class on Friday. Even though I was admitted late, I only missed two courses. However, despite my brief delusion that school here would be easier, as a native English speaker with only one class per course per week, I found myself to be a bit overwhelmed by work this weekend. Not just work, but work, and moving, and life all together. I have term papers in all four uni classes, two of which are 20-25 pages (!), one 15-20, and one thats length has not yet been announced, but will probably be about 20 pages as well. No wonder people here take 2-3 classes a semester.

School here is kind of ridiculous in that way. Because Austrians pay something like €15 to go to university, and can be students as long as they need to, the university is a bit less orderly than what I am used to. The basis for this opinion is my recent experience with my Moby Dick class. The first week that I was registered in the class, I knew which building it was in, but not the exact class, as it was not on the internet. I got there 30 minutes early, but 15 minutes after the class was supposed to start, got frustrated and went for dinner. The next week, I figured out which room the class was in, and got there early once again. There are only 8 other people in the class, however, and I didn't want to be the first person in the small room, so I sat outside with a view of the door, and waited. Once again, 15 minutes after the class should have started, I had not seen one person on the same floor of the building. With a stomach knotted from frustration, I went home and sent a desperate e-mail to the class list, along the lines of "Tell me what I'm doing wrooooooonnnnnngggggg!" Apparently, when the class met for the first time, they agreed that the course will only happen on certain dates, at certain times, none of which the Prof. felt the need to tell me when I emailed him about taking the course. On top of that, those courses that we do have will consist only of other students' oral presentations; everybody has to make one presentation of a literary theory and another of how that theory applies to Moby Dick. At the end of the semester, those topics make up the 25 page paper that is due. It is kind of scary, but at the same time it is so different from McGill that I kind of love it anyway.

Other than going to classes and preparing for classes, I am now a member of the Austrian spa/fitness centre called..."Ladies". It. Is. So. Nice. It is (obviously) for women only, so using the weights in the weight room isn't a matter of navigating your way through biceps and glutes and triceps and pecs. There is a schedule of drop in classes that you can attend whenever you want; I have already been to Pilates, and only missed Yoga to move. Next, all of the cardio machines have mini TVs in the front of them, with cable, which will be nice considering that we are not going to have a TV at the apartment. You'd think it would be hard to beat TVs in the treadmills, but it gets better. In the basement is the spa. There are three saunas: dry and hot, dry medium temperature aromatherapy, and steamy. There is also a whirlpool that is somehow a temperature that both relaxes and refreshes you. But my personal favourite touch is definitely the heated lounge chairs. My plan for this semester and the next is just to take whatever reading I have to do for school to the spa, and spend the day lying in a towel on the heated chairs. In Montreal I had the library, here I have the spa.


Anyway, as you can probably gather from this entry, things are going well here. Christian is busy getting ready for the mulled wine stand that he and his friend Rody run during the Christmas season for the University. I am looking forward to going there after classes for some of the delicious Gl├╝hwein, and hopefully I will be able to work there as they need me in order to make a bit of money before Christmas. We are having a housewarming party this Friday, to which anybody who thinks they can make it is invited. It is too bad that the apartment won't be finished, but the party is also supposed to be for Christian's birthday, which was October 3rd, so we didn't want to wait too long.