Today is a day for small victories. Like, I successfully asked the cashier at Spar (say: sh-pah), “Sprechen sie Englisch?” She replied, “a little bit.”
Another small victory: figured out how to grind my coffee beans at Spar, even though all the instructions for the machine were in German.
It helps that the machines in the US are the same, but I’ve only used those a couple times. I credit the success to Jesus since I could have very easily ground up my fingers or broken the machine on my own.
It’s a day to rejoice in the small victories because I didn’t particularly enjoy yesterday. I mean, all the circumstances of the day were good, and I had a great companion to help me, but it’s hard to enjoy anything when you’ve been traveling for about 18 hours, not to mention that you said goodbye to all that is familiar and entered a very foreign place.
The Toronto airport ended most of the familiarity. I got to Frankfurt, and everything was in German first… then in English. I hadn’t eaten in a while since I attempted sleep for most of my flight from Toronto, so I was pretty hungry. But who wants to spend a lot of money on airport food? So I got a joghurt (said almost like yogurt…. almost) with a bunch of unknown fruchtes (the r sounds kind of like an ‘l’ and a rolled ‘r’ mixed together) and muesli in it.
Also, a gigantic spoon. I couldn’t fit the whole thing in my mouth. I found a grape at one point, and I think there was some dried… mango(?) in there somewhere along with peach? I don’t know. My taste buds were tired, too.
All this time, I still felt like I was going to land in Minnesota, where I would find familiarity and family. I just couldn’t get my brain to understand that I was going away.
It got more real when Daniela picked me up at the airport, and we took the tram to my dorm. Well, first I got the key to a dorm that didn’t have a bed but did have a lot of dust. The dorm people quickly remedied that though, and now I’m living in my own room in an apartment with three flatmates: Fabian, Magda (short for Magdalena), and Anna (I haven’t met her yet). We share a kitchen/living room and have three bathrooms (I share with Magda). Daniela (my airport buddy) took me shopping for everything I would need.
First time grocery shopping in Austria:
We also got Italian food for lunch, so that helped with the hungry thing, although my stomach wasn’t doing too well off of its normal eating schedule and 7 hours ahead of its regular time. Scarlett O’Hara’s quote (title) is appropriate here because I was a) hungry for food b) hungry for familiarity c) not sure whether I could live through a day of this, much less 4 months. I found myself just saying over and over again, “Jesus, I need you. Make it better.”
I kept counting down the hours to bedtime. When I got home from my extensive shopping, I got to know my flatmates a little bit more over dinner. Fabian got my internet set up so I could Skype my mom (he’s an IT major), and I met Magda’s friend while they were cooking. I’ll be honest: I cried a little bit. I think I was just so tired and completely out of the familiar world that even talking about my family and home was hard. They were both so sweet though, hugging me and offering tissues, so obviously the kindness brought a few more tears. We talked and laughed for a while after I finished crying (which definitely came back when I talked to my mom). Having companionship started to make dry eyes easier.
Today, however, is different Today is much better. 12 hours of sleep makes a world of difference with perspective. Yesterday I just wanted to be where things are familiar, knowing that Graz would eventually become that place, but I didn’t want to have to be in the in-between stage where I’m completely dependent on other people… I guess this is a good lesson-learning time. Lesson number 1: let people help you, and be okay with your complete incompetence.
Coffee with Magda this morning at our kitchen table also helped. She took me to the grocery store again (since I just bought a few things yesterday), which happens to be just down the road from our flat. We taught each other German and English words for things like ‘grape’ and ‘raisin’ and laughed when we had miscommunications. I kept getting excited about seeing familiar foods or brands. She had to leave in the middle of our shopping trip (It’s the semester break here, so she’ll be in Upper Austria for two weeks then come back when classes start), but right before she left she hugged me and said, “I’m really glad that you’re here.”
Me too, Magda, me too.