Just to answer the obvious question, inherent in all Study Abroad blogs: what the hell have you been up to?
Well, babies, it's been a stretch of days with ups and downs, mainly on escalators, and ins and outs, mainly going into coffee shops and supermarkets and classrooms. Much has not been notable, and that's due to life becoming Life-like again, by which I mean, this is all very ordinary now, and I'm looking forward to The Return (as of now, one month and twenty-odd days) solely for the feeling of New again, the wonders of the Taken For Granted: Quiktrip. Riverside. Bueno. Penny. All those things that make Oklahoma so very strangely great. And I've been looking forward to the Going Back since I got here, and if there's anyone out there wanting to shake some of the proverbial sense into me, thinking "GOOD LORD RACHEL YOU ARE IN EUROPE EVERYTHING SHOULD BE MIND-BOGGLING AND AMAZING QUIT WHINING," you have to understand the circumstances. I was in Tulsa for two weeks before I left, knowing I'd be back for a week before leaving again, making my total time at Home in 2008 something like a month, at a time when Home is a very liminal, fleeting thing (by this time next year, I'll - fingers crossed - be preparing for my graduation, apartment-hunting in whatever town I end up in, sending forms to Yon Graduate School, whichever one it may be). When last semester ended, Hamilton had become a Hamilton I didn't want to stay at but not one I wanted to leave either, knowing my crew would be back and only lacking me - there's a handful of friends I haven't seen since May 2007, with their own Study Abroad experiences already over. I have no money, and too much time, and the way things are now has leveled into some form of okay-ness.
They're not reading this because I haven't shared the link (for reasons of I like to write about smoking), but I want everyone to know that my folks are awesome. My whole ridiculous family is awesome, otherwise I wouldn't get drunk with my friends here and babble on for half an hour about the strange phrases we Richardsons use, the dichotomy between me sitting in Europe right now using words like 'dichotomy' and my infinite number of knocked-up, Army-enrolled, meth-addicted cousins (it's a very mixed batch), what October in Arkansas feels like and seeing the shack my father grew up in - literally a shack, in the middle of the woods, that housed a dozen family members at any given time. Tomorrow's Mother's Day, and I'm actually looking forward to calling home. I called my dad the other day, feeling lonely and out-of-sorts, and he imparted some very Dadly wisdom when I apologized that they were spending all this money for me to be here and it wasn't life-altering, moment-to-moment excitement, not the kind of thing I'd come back and say "Wee Underclassmen, you absolutely must go abroad, it'll change your life." My dad simply said, "That's all right. 6 months is a long time. You can have bad days, and if you tell yourself you're supposed to be having the Best Time of Your Life then of course you won't. Besides, you've been to Norway. You can say that now."
And then I thought, "Well, hell. I have been to Norway. That's pretty fucking awesome." And that is just a fact.
There were other instances that added some weight to the perpetual scale of How Is Rachel Today (because, looking back through the past few posts of this blog - and as an aside, what does one do with a Study Abroad blog when the Studying Abroad is over? - this really has been as much about me as it has been Vienna, which I can't really help, but it'd be untruthful somehow to start every sentence with "Today I saw this" - if you're after Viennese History, I recommend Wikipedia). I found out, after a more-grueling-than-it-should-have-been wait, that the stories I submitted for the annual Hamilton prizes did win, which means I get a nice coupon for my tuition, which makes my parents like me. I'm editor-in-chief of the lit mag next year, and still part of WHCL. I told my Viennese peers in one of my literature classes all about kudzu. I left a bakery without getting my change, making my Ciabatta Proscuitto five times as expensive as it should've been (to be fair those sandwiches are BEYOND delicious). My "boss" at my internship told the director of my program we were having "communication issues" when I thought everything was going fine. It rained a whole lot. I got drunk and remembered how stupid I am when I drink that much. I likened my experiences in Vienna with another kid on the program's and felt like I was doing everything wrong. I missed Class and Charter Day, but I received some touching emails from various points of the world that made me feel worthwhile. I started a story, pitched it, and started again. Pretty standard stuff; if you charted it, it would look a lot like a heart monitor (apparently called an electrocardiogram?) but that's better than a flat-line, or at least makes for more interesting blog posts.
But to answer the question, here is what I did: explored the expansion of the U2 line which opened today because of the blasted Eurowelt Soccer Championship that's going to make Vienna a madhouse in a few weeks. Wandered through a new park at twilight after having some pricey Sachertorte at the Mozart Cafe, and gawked at the giant, hideous, Nazi-built bunker towers that were built to withstand the Apocalypse and look appropriately apocalyptic. Went to the Rathaus for a free classical concert, mixing Culture and Beer, and saw the Vienna Boy's Choir. Saw 2/3rds of Sigfried, the massive Wagner opera, at THE Operahouse in Vienna, which was grand and great except we were standing up and couldn't endure the whole 5 hour show. Drank White Russians in a dorm kitchen and felt like I was at college again. Sat on the banks of the Donau Kanal and didn't go to class. Took a test entirely in German. Sat on a statue with some beer. Finished my 22nd journal.
And I have goals, small and silly though they may be: to have one infinite, ridiculous night, wade through some fountains without getting yelled at, drink in the open, see some more good shows and explore the outer reaches of the city, hang out with more people on the program, take a boat to Bratislava.
I've had the LCD Soundsystem song in my head for some time now, not only because it's been exactly a year since I listened to it exclusively for the better part of a week, but also because the message is pretty clear - and it's so middle school journal to quote lyrics but they're lyrics for a reason, so don't you judge me! - but it's simply this: it keeps coming, and it keeps coming, and it keeps coming til the day it stops. That's about the sum of it, right there. That, and shaking it like a Polaroid picture.