Monday, June 15, 2009
There was this cool guy dancing in front of the food stand. We took a picture with him and he liked it so much that he asked me to email it to him.
After our lunch break we went to lay out. There were so many ants! We were completely covered. It definitely didn’t help the situation that I didn’t have a towel to lay on either. After maybe an hour I got up the courage and went into the Donau. After just floating for a little bit, I realized I was already 1/4 of the way across so I just spur of the moment decided to swim all the way across to the other side. I’m a good swimmer, so why not?
I was doing pretty well…then I hit halfway. Omigosh I was so tired but I kept going. Whether I turned around and swam back, or continued to the other side, I still had the same distance to cover. About 40 feet from the shore something ran into my shoulder. I thought it was just a clump of moss or whatever so I just brushed it aside, only to realize that it was not moss, but a dead squirrel. OMG. I think I had a miniature heart attack. Completely freaked out I sprinted to the sideline, this time noticing every little piece of debris. As I was nearing the edge I slipped on a rock. It didn’t hurt too badly, felt more like when you stub your toe on the edge of the bed (even though that can hurt a lot!). I clambered out of the river and sat on the steps and gathered my breath. I looked down at my toe and it was gushing blood. I guess I didn’t really feel it at first because my whole body was numb from the cold water and I had all that adrenaline from being exhausted and running into a dead squirrel and all. I thought I maybe just cut my toe so no big deal. But I still had to get back to the other side. After a few more minutes of rest, I plunged back in the water and made my way across the river. – This is no small swimming pool, either. It took me probably 45 minutes to swim across, rest, and swim back – although I was trying not to get my head wet because of nasty river germs so I was pretty much doggie paddling the whole way.
Today I finally made it to Café Sacher. It’s been one of my main goals all trip. Samantha and I had to wait a few minutes outside to be seated – very un-Viennese coffee house. But this was a very touristy place, so it was quite crowded with camera bearing foreigners – mostly English speakers. We got our table inside and flipped through the menu, but I knew what I wanted going in there. Ein Stück Sacher torte mit Schlagobers und eine Melange. (The original sacher torte with whipped cream and a mélange coffee) The place was very cute – reminded me of tea at the American Girl Place. While it was nice, it was not at all like the Vienna coffee houses so if you want to get an accurate taste of Vienna culture, don’t go to Café Sacher. So I finally got my Sacher torte – the real deal – no more imitations. It was wonderful. But the whole time I kept thinking how the atmosphere was detracting from the experience. In all other coffee houses, you’re free to stay as long as you like – all day in fact. But here the service was very fast and polite and there were lines of tourists waiting outside with their noses pressed to the windows eager for a glimpse inside. I felt like it was inappropriate to stay there too long so Samantha and I left a few minutes after finishing the cake.
But before leaving, we decided to check out the bathrooms – a place this nice had to have beautiful bathrooms. When you walk in it appeared like a normal, yet beautiful, bathroom. There were sinks to the left, and wooden doors for where the stalls would be. But then we opened the doors to the actual individual bathrooms and there were entire other rooms inside. Every toilet was designated a little room where the person could freshen up, equipped with a sink and counter! So posh.
We then went on a journey to a café that we could hunker down at for a while and found a sort of Italian/Greek run café. I ordered smoked trout appetizer and it was way different from anything I expected, but in a good way. The trout was served on top of a mound of whipped cream and horseradish. I would never have thought to serve fish with whipped cream, but it was excellent. After a couple hours feeling Viennese, we left to go back to our dorm.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
While we were at the Mozart house, I stopped in the gift shop to do some browsing and stumbled upon a book about the real Van Trapp family and how the movie The Sound of Music compared to the real story. I was surprised to notice that after just a quick glance, I had already spotted grammatical mistakes. One section was discussing the life of Maria Augusta von Kutschera and referred to her as "it". The pronouns were incorrect. My guess is that the book was originally written in German and this was a mistake made in the English version. But it seemed like such an obvious mistake. It jumped right out at me. So many people visit the Mozart house that I would think having high quality texts for sale would be important. Apparently the editors didn't stress over the mistake too much because a person, a very important and well-known person, was referred to as "it".
To get down the mountain, instead of hiking or taking a little train, we took an elevator. Yea, that was pretty cool. It took us right through the center of the mountain all the way to the bottom. It was pretty high up because on the way down my ears changed pressure.
There were no available walking tours of the city L and I was disappointed because everything I had heard of Salzburg was that the landscape was gorgeous…and we weren’t even going to see it. So we went to the Salzburg Museum instead. It was good, but definitely had nothing on the Vienna Museums.
Then we went to Mozart’s house, where he lived for 26 years. There were descriptions of all the people who lived there and what the room was used for. There was a display indicating that the family dog was shot because he was barking. That was sad. There was also a room in which everything was upside down. The floor was the ceiling and looked like stars, the ceiling was like a town, and the paintings on the walls were all hung upside-down. I really didn’t understand that room – there was not an explanation or anything – just randomly thrown into the mix. I saw locks of Mozart’s hair, which were a light brown and I saw his silk wallet among a bunch of other things like his small violin and several types of pianos.
We finished off this huge and delicious meal with a meringue. I wasn’t a fan of this – it didn’t taste like a dessert to me and I didn’t like that it dissolved the second I put it in my mouth so there was nothing to swallow.
After dinner, Vanessa and I went shopping but stores closed ten minutes later so we were forced to go back to the castle. Easier said than done. As is custom when Vanessa and I venture out on our own we got lost. This time it wasn’t in nice Vienna where there are signs. It was in the rainy, muddy woods. And it was getting dark. We managed to get on the wrong trail, which wasn’t quite taking us as close to the castle as we would have liked, so we cut through the woods. I swear I saw grave markers! I wanted to stop and take a picture but it was raining and we wanted to get the heck out of there. We finally made it to our room and collapsed. Since it was cold (~ 47 *F), raining, muddy and we would have to climb down a mountain to go anywhere fun, we stayed in the room and just talked and played cards. There was no tv or internet so our options were somewhat limited.
It was actually a really fun night, but it wouldn’t be study abroad in Austria if we weren’t scared somehow. Everytime we looked up at the ceiling we spotted a new “Mitbewohner” – but not the nice kind – spiders. They were everywhere. We were freaking out. Vanessa actually got up on a chair to kill the spider but had a massive freak out when she came face to face with the gigantic beast. I even started tearing up I was so scared – but that’s just me. – I HATE spiders. It was horrible. We laid in bed cuddling and telling stories trying everything possible to distract ourselves and avoid gawking at the horrible beings. In the end we finally fell asleep. That was the end of day one in Salzburg.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Tonight there was a free concert by the Vienna Philharmonic at Schönbrunn. There were thousands of people there and absolutely zero concept of personal space. But the music was lovely. Or at least I’m pretty sure it was. From where we were standing, the stage was about an inch tall, so we the only sound we received was from the speakers set up around the garden. So it was honestly like listening to a cd. But the scenery and experience of being at Schönbrunn made it well worth the long train ride.
Arriving at the concert several hours before it began:
Today we went to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It was serious business. We had to be professionals and go through security and get temporary id’s to be allowed in the building. After going through all the security proceedings we met with Susanna Lööf, Press Officer, OSCE Secretariat. She briefed us on the history and purpose of the OSCE. The OSCE strives to bring stability, prosperity, and democracy in 56 states.
After our meeting with Susanna Lööf we met with Elizabeth Kaufmann and Forest Atkinson, whose jobs it is to promote the U.S. in the OSCE. The OSCE is not well known, partially because decisions and actions take a long time to put into effect. The OSCE operates on consensus, which means that all 56 states have to agree upon the same decision. Something I found interesting was that decisions are politically, not legally binding. This means that nations are somewhat held to only the honors system. Because of the high probability that nations will not always uphold their end of the bargain, “Name and Shame” meetings are held, in which the OSCE talks about which states are not upholding their commitments. Even though there are 56 states in the OSCE, there is a sense that everyone is unique with their own government yet at the same time they get along. They have barbeques together, go to café’s, and basically shoot the breeze together. A lot of diplomacy happens outside of the office and then the official decisions are made within the board room.
Then we went to observe the permanent council proceedings. This was by far the highlight of the day. It was a gigantic room with an ambassador from every country in the OSCE and all of their assistants. Along the side of the wall you could see the translators in their booths. We all had headsets and could control whatever language we needed. For example, when the ambassador of Kazakhstan was speaking, I toggled back and forth between the English and German translators. It was fascinating to watch. The translators in the booths were listening to the speeches at the same time as everyone else and simultaneously translating them. That is just so impressive to me. You have to be able to listen to what they are saying, remember it, simultaneously translate it, while listening to what is being said while you are spewing out the translation. So they are listening and talking at the same time and always just a few words behind the original speaker. It was unbelievably impressive.
Sometimes a “relay” is used. This is when the original speech is translated twice over. For example, let’s say that a Kazakhstanian is speaking and it needs to be translated from Kazakh to English but there are no English speakers who know Kazakh. But perhaps there is a French speaker who also knows Kazakh. In a “relay” the original Kazakh would first be translated by interpreted one from Kazakh to French and interpreter two would listen to this French translation and translate the French into English. This is all going on within seconds of each other so that the audience gets the message only moments after it is originally spoken. That is complete craziness. I can’t believe anyone’s brain can function that quickly. The “relay” technique is often used because it is impossible to find translators for every language into every other language. So you get translators who can cover several bases, and then in a sense cross multiply them.
At the end of our minds basically being blown away by the intensity of the council proceedings, our group had another meeting with Nikolay Borovskiy, Chief of Language Services Section. He informed us that the six official languages of the OSCE are English, French, Russian, Spanish, German, and Italian. The language services provided are written translation, oral interpretation, and editing. Additional money is spent to have important texts revised by another person to ensure perfection. There are three different kinds of interpretation that the OSCE employs: consecutive, simultaneous, and whispering. Whispering is a technique in which someone stands next to or behind someone and interprets directly into their ear. This technique was first used in the Nuremberg Trials in 1945.
All the interpreters and translators of the OSCE are freelance. They are hired for each session, which lasts approximately one year and they can also work daily contracts. Currently, French and Russian are the most in demand languages in the OSCE.
I was super excited to learn about the salary of the interpreters. 427 Euros/day for a minimum of 300 days/year is awarded whether you work those days or not. Interpreters are also allowed only a maximum of 8 meetings/per. That comes to about 128,000 Euros, which is roughly the equivalent of $180,000. Every year. That sounds pretty darn good.
Today in the afternoon we went to the United Nations to sit in on a briefing. We got a bit more insight as to how translation and politics combine in the United Nations. After our meeting, we got the chance to circle the floor and peak in on other rooms. We came across one meeting and there was a representative from every country in the United Nations and they all had head sets so they could switch to whichever language they worked in. It was pretty awesome. Too bad pictures were not allowed. It’s all very top secret.
Fountain and flags outside the UN:
That night we met up with some Austrian students of Professor Camilla Nielsen and went out to eat at a Heurigen. We were all Americans studying abroad in Austria and they were all Austrians wanting to study abroad in America so we thought it was a good trade off. The only thing that was disappointing was the Heurigen itself. The food looked good, but was above all of our budgets so we ended up not even having dinner that night. And what’s more, they had very a limited drink selection. No pop, juice, or even water. The waiter was thoroughly insulted when I asked him if he had one of these options. Apparently Heurigens only sell drinks that they produce themselves, which is wine and beer. The waiter rudely told me that I shouldn’t have come if I didn’t like beer. Yet another fine example of the excellent service here in Vienna. psh.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
That evening we went to the opera, Die Fledermaus. It was great to just get student tickets 15 minutes before the show and still have great seats. We sat in the cabins along the side walls and I felt just like Julie Roberts in that scene from Pretty Woman. It was interesting to listen to the voices of the singers because you could pick out various dialects and accents. Some spoke with a very Viennese or Southern Austrian accent whereas others had more of a Swedish accent.
Me and Karla:
Monday, June 1, 2009
Tonight Vanessa, Donnie, and I had a classy night out on the town. We started off by dining at Café Hummel, which was absolutely delish. I had buttered turkey with a type of mashed hash brown-like potatoes and steamed vegetables. Then we finished off dinner with elaborate desserts. Mine was called Pariesiencremetorte. Oo la la. So yummy. The Austrians definitely have a handle on desserts.
We then went to Vienna’s English Theater and hoped to get last minute student tickets that they begin to sell 15 minutes before the start of the show. We ended up sitting front row for 9 Euros! It’s definitely worth it to be a student here in Vienna. There are so many student discounts for performances! We saw a production called Out of Order, a British comedy and it was fabulous. It was so much fun to sit up close and see all the details.
It was a wonderful evening. Spending a fancy night on the town at dinner and the theater is definitely my version of a good time.
So I went to a German movie and it was filled with translation opportunities. Before the movie there was an advertisement being played on the screen and I found it interesting that the advertisement on the screen was in German but it was being read in English. I don’t understand why they did it that way.
Before the movie began, I was looking at the movies titles and how they differed from the original English titles. The movie Maid of Honor, for example was translated as Verliebt in die Braut. While the title accurately describes the plot of the movie, it’s not very close to the English title. Another movie, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, was translated as Der Womanizer. Another failure in my opinion. It gives the movie a sort of negative vibe that just isn’t there in the English title.
When the movie was playing, I relied on the German subtitles to understand the French conversations. Doing subtitling exercises last semester made me pay attention to the formatting of the subtitles in Illuminati. We had learned that there should be no more than 36 characters per line, including spacing and punctuation and that there could be no more than two lines at a time. The subtitles in Illuminati, were much more than 36 characters per line. Probably more than twice that amount. I had to physically move my eyes from left to right to read the lines rather than being able to see the whole line in one glance, which is how they are supposed to be formatted. They most definitely did not fit the requirements of standardized subtitling.
Last night was very exciting, more so than I would have liked. Vanessa and I decided to go see Illuminati, the new Angels and Demons movie. We found a theater close by that said it would be playing with subtitles which was good because Vanessa only speaks a little bit of German. So we got in line and bought tickets and the ticket guy said we’d better hurry and I was thinking, why do we have to hurry, we were 40 minutes early. He sold us tickets to a show that started 20 minutes ago. So then I made him give us the tickets for the show I had asked for originally.
Then Vanessa and I waited in the complex for the doors to our theater to open and there was this couple making out not even two feet from me…not just light smooching, but full out making noises and groping each other. It was highly inappropriate. Being the not so subtle American that I am, I felt it was my place to try to eradicate this situation. I began to clear my throat and play with a magazine and talk to Vanessa, all with much louder tones than in normal conduct. But nothing. They didn’t even react to my verbal dislike of PDA. I guess they don’t know what PDA is in Europe.
So then finally, ten minutes before our movie, the doors opened and we walked into what was the biggest movie theater I’d ever seen. It was huge! Like at least four theaters from Savoy 16 put together. We found our seats, which were assigned, and sat down.
The movie started, and to our surprise it was in German, with German subtitles appearing only when people were speaking French. It wasn’t that I couldn’t understand it, because I could…or at least the majority of it. But there were so many scientific words that I didn’t know and they were speaking so fast…it would have been fast in English. It was just one of those movies that you really have to pay attention to and having it in German was just more of a brain exercise than I could handle at the moment. Another thing we didn’t expect was an intermission in the middle of the high point of the movie. It just cut out and said it would be back in 10 minutes, which totally interrupted the flow of the movie.
But when the movie finally ended, our adventure for the night began. We got out of the movie theater and it was pouring rain. Vienna is experiencing a drought right now and there was like a negative ten percent chance that it would have rained, so you can imagine our reaction. We didn’t know what to do because we were just planning on walking home, since we only lived about a mile away. But it was raining way too hard for that. So after a few minutes debate of what to do, we made a run to the nearest bus stop and try to figure out which night bus to take. We got on the N6 and I asked the bus driver how close he went to Haus Panorama and he said just about a block away from it. He lied. He never went anywhere near Haus Panorama. In fact, he took us about as far away as possible. We stayed on the bus only because we figured it had to come full circle and at least we could be where we started again, but that’s not how it turned out.
We got off that bus when it was at its last stop and tried to take a variety of other busses to get us a little closer towards something we could recognize. Finally, after a whole slew of busses, and being soaking wet, and close to tears we flagged down a taxi. You may be wondering why we didn’t get a taxi earlier in the evening, but we really didn’t see any, otherwise we would have. Trust me, we would have. What started out as just a couple minutes away from our dorm turned into a 20 minute taxi ride from who knows where.