Today I turned 24 years old. For some odd reason, 24 feels like a bigger jump than from 22 to 23. It probably has more to do with the transition from college graduation to the work force (a.k.a. real world). Either way, I'm no stranger to celebrating a birthday abroad: Germany at 19, Argentina at 22, and now Austria at 24...and like the other birthdays abroad, this was splendid...in its own, low-key sort of way.
Before hitting the hay, my official birthday started with a Skype session from my parents and brother. Despite a struggling internet connection, I felt the love and certainly do miss my biggest supporters at home.
Thanks, Mom, Dad and Brian!
In the morning, I woke up to a plethora of birthday wishes from family and friends through Facebook, Whatsapp, e-mail, Snapchat, text messages, and snail mail. Via Skype, I was sung to in German by my dear friend, Wiebke, from my sophomore year in the TCNJ I-House. I'd say everything was off to a wonderful start! I felt that I deserved a little bit of Netflix before lunch time, so that's what I did. I met up with fellow teaching assistants, Leah and Mel, for lunch prior to meeting the rest of the group for a trip to Pöstlingberg.
Pöstlingberg is a popular overlook with a world record-setting history for the tram (die Pöstlingbergbahn) that climbs the 554m climb in less than 20 minutes. I'm convinced it had to be a greater power that pushed away the clouds as we departed Hauptplatz for the top (it was cloudy the entire morning and early afternoon).
The day was enjoyed by looking down at Linz and the fog in the distance, checking out the Pöstlingbergbasilika (church), and lastly, with a drink from the Biergarten. I was treated to a pear wine known as Most - a tasty choice!
My TA (teaching assistant) friends!
View from Pöstlingberg!
Mostly my fault, we got a little creative with the group photos!
The most awesome teaching assistants in Linz!
Most (an Austrian drink)!
Afterwards, a portion of the birthday crew stopped by the Urfahranermarkt for a quick snack. It started to drizzle, so everyone made their way home. Back at the apartment, Matthias (my flatmate) was quick to wish me a happy birthday (like Germans, the Austrians prefer to wait till someone's birthday to wish them all the best for fear of jinxing it if said too early). I prepared myself a bowl of pasta before him and I returned the Urfahranermarkt.
I met a few of Matthias' friends from university. All were very kind and quick to compliment my German, but I struggled to grasp the context of some points in the conversation. I found it that I was better with 1-on-1 discussions, especially when there was a fluctuating mix of standard German and Austrian dialect. Nonetheless with more time and beer, the conversations became more comprehensible and I had more context clues to understand where the conversation was going! Matthias also treated me to a glass of "Sturm," a super sweet fruit wine that is only served in autumn...finally I think I may have found something here that has defeated my sweet tooth...but darn was it good!
Birthday dinner: Kafka (sausage filled with cheese, covered in onions,
ketchup and curry sauce, on a flaky bun) and a beer!
Matthias and I
Thanks for all the Birthday love! xoxo
Having had only arrived in Linz two weeks ago, I was not sure how my birthday would go. Quite honestly, I set the bar low because I wished to enjoy the day for its simplicity. The greatest blessings of the day became obvious as my loved ones and friends reached out to me from all over. My new friends--British, Irish, America, and Austria alike--in Linz were equally as eager to celebrate this day with me! Simply put, it is a bright sign of the friendships and wonderful experiences that I have to look forward to. For that I can only feel thankful for all the old good and the new promise in my life!
Tomorrow is another big day because October 1 marks the official start of my job as a US English Teaching Assistant. I have an introductory meeting with my contact teacher at my second school. I expect my actual teaching responsibilities to start on Thursday...wish me luck!
Ois guade / Alles Gute zum Geburtstag,
Matt der Glückliche :)
P.S. My blog post about last week and weekend is still a work in progress. I'll do my best to have that up sooner rather than later. Danke für euer Verständnis!