So far during the second part of my year abroad, I have learnt that it is a cardinal sin to walk into a shop and fail to acknowledge every single member of staff, including the pet cat. Another grave error is to understand the phrase “staff meeting” as a serious gathering of teachers, when in reality it involves gathering in a broom cupboard with the rest of the English department in order to enjoy champagne and chocolates. However, I think that my biggest mistake of all will be leaving Austria.
*cue tragic violins and weeping*
You’re probably thinking that all this schnitzel and sauerkraut is going to my head. Maybe it is. But I have fallen in love with this amazing Alpine nation and its unfailingly friendly people. Coming from a small Welsh town where people will cross the street just to avoid saying hello, it’s refreshing to be greeted by a cheery “Morgen!” by every passer-by. Even better is the chorus of “Gesundheit!” when you sneeze in a public place.
It’s not just the people; I have literally had to pinch myself on my commute to work, which takes me through scenery straight from a guidebook. Kitzbühel itself has been living up to its reputation as one of the world’s most exclusive ski resorts since the most famous Austrian (Arnold Schwarzenegger, not Ms Wurst) paid a visit earlier this year. But the season is coming to a close and, one by one, the chairlifts are grinding to a halt.
I’m firmly settled into my job, but it’s still surreal to be standing at the front of the class rather than huddled behind a desk. Even stranger is sitting in the staffroom, which I can only liken to entering Narnia. As I mentioned in my last post, I am not just an assistant, but in many of my classes I am expected to teach the whole lesson myself! This was definitely a shock to the system at first, but it has turned out to be really fun and it’s especially nice when the students do a “table clap” (knocking their knuckles against the table) to show their appreciation.
Expect some future posts specifically concerning working as a British Council language assistant, which will hopefully be useful for anyone taking up a post next year. Very soon I’ll be popping up a FAQ post about Geneva, as I’ve had quite a few questions and they may be relevant for others, too.
The main reason for my lack of posts is that my wanderlust has taken over and every weekend has been spent travelling. Rather than boring you with a minute-by-minute report, here are some snapshots of the places I’ve visited so far…
Sorry for the picture overload! Feel free to let me know in the comments if you have visited any of the places above!