My time in Vienna was simultaneously fantastic and senselessly annoying. The annoying elements are definitely LIBRO material and speak to so many of the other frustrations in life at the time. So let’s get to the less deep shit for now. I left Budapest and headed to Vienna via train. Here’s my first tip if heading to Austria from Hungary: pay to have an assigned seat. I had no idea that was really an option because the woman at the ticket counter didn’t inform me. And I found myself wanting to later return and tell her about herself, because what that meant was almost the entire trip I was on edge thinking someone would board and force me outta my seat. And since this wasn’t Alabama and my name isn’t Mrs. Parks I was gonna have to raise up out. Thankfully that didn’t happen, but it was anxiety producing.
I was in Vienna to participate in the Marie Jahoda Summer School of Sociology at the University of Vienna. We weren’t put into housing and I decided to stay in the Wombat´s City Hostel The Naschmarkt because, while it wasn’t very close to the University of Vienna, it seemed to be close to other places of interest, like the Naschmarkt. When I got to the dorm room at the hostel I casually checked the mattress for any signs of bed bugs. Tip #2 that I’m sure many of you know: always check the hell out of your mattresses when you stay in hotels, especially hostels. I’ll get more into this in a few. I explored Vienna a bit on my own that first day.
I don’t know what the hell this is about, but it looks a whole lot like cultural appropriation and racial insensitivity but maybe this is something Viennese that I’m totally culturally unaware about. One of y’all tell me.
Oh and this one too…
That evening I met the two women sharing the hostel room, a psychologist from Brazil and a Québécois chef for Cavalia, which apparently is like the Canadian Cirque du Soleil but with horses. The next morning was the first day of the program and I made my way there via train. Public transpo in Vienna is on that honor code shit. You are required to purchase a ticket but there aren’t any turnstiles or people to show tickets. If someone stops to ask for your ticket you’ve gotta be ready to whip it out. But all it took was for me to see a few of the people I’d met who lived there enter sans ticket for me to just start rolling like them. I’m not saying I’m proud of it but man, the Euro was hurting my dollar holding pockets.
The program was set up so that we spent our days listening to one another’s presentations on our various projects in our doctoral programs, had lunch in different places and a few evenings had things scheduled. I don’t know what it was about this group but we all genuinely bonded (Hey, Summer School Crew!). I felt like we all had gone to university for years together and not just spent 4 days running around Vienna like the less romantic version of Before Sunrise. By the end I had new buddies from the US, Austria, Namibia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Albania, Turkey, Romania, Serbia, Hungary (sorry if I'm leaving anyone out!) and learned all different types of interesting information about the development climate in cities in these countries and more.
For our first lunch we went to Gangl.
And for dinner we all took a few trollies/buses to what is apparently the only vineyard located in a capital, Heuriger (Tavern) Zadowsky. This is where I had my very first Vienesse Spritzer, which of course I had to say over and over again in my best Viennese accent as I was properly taught.
We had a lovely time but in true-Valle fashion I had nothing prepared for my presentation the next day and needed to get back to the hostel to work. I was up all night, laying down for about 2 hrs then hauling ass to the university. My presentation was too long, as usual, and I ran through it likely confusing everyone, especially all my non-native English speakers. But when I was done I felt like I could conquer the world and could more importantly, eat, drink and be merry without the burden of work. We all kicked it after, exploring the city, then drinking and rapping for hours. Super cool.
So I get back to the hostel late and see the chef from my room in the lobby and she’s like, “have you been to the room yet?” Um, no. “We have bed bugs.” WTF!? No exaggeration: bringing bed bugs back to my home is one of my GREATEST fears. So it’s around midnight maybe and I’ve got to wash allllll of my clothes and put my suitcase in their freezer after it’s been sprayed with pesticides, just thinking, "is this my life right now?" This went on for hours. It was awful. I didn’t know if I’d gotten bitten but knew that sometimes bites can take a while to show or I may not react at all. The only good thing was that I had so little sleep the night before so hadn't been in the actual bed much. The Brazilian woman on a different bed apparently got to' up. I was over WOMBATS. They said I wouldn’t have to pay for the night. Ya think?? I spent hours trying to find somewhere else to stay. But it was the wee hours of the night and was having no luck. I changed rooms and couldn’t even stay for more than one night in the new room. I found one spot that I could only spend one night in a hotel. I had to go to the university in the morn then come all the way back to change hotels at lunch. Ridiculous.
We all spent the afternoon touring the Museums Quartier area.
Then we listened to a lecture by Ash Amin, who was participating in the summer school.
Then the gaaaaaames began! We took the bottles of wine from the event and just had a ball in the Museums Quartier.
I went to the new hotel and had to pack up allllll my shit the next day. We had our presentations at the Museums Quarter. One of the people attending the Univ. of Vienna was an awesome dude from Guatemala (Hey, Estuardo!!) and when I told him what the deal was he offered to let me stay with him for my last two days. And I moved everything for a THIRD time to his spot and totally missed all of the afternoon presentations. Ugh. This was me looking and feeling like I was gonna pass out from exhaustion.
That night we headed out to Leopoldstadt (I believe was the neighborhood) to watch the Brazil v. Germany soccer match.
On the way I saw this street sign. And of course my "racism" bell goes off. Ding! I confer with those who speak Viennese/German and they confirm that this does indeed mean something related to black or little nigger or something that's a definite #racefail. I recall someone telling me later she got into an argument with her mom about it before. Can anyone tell me the exact translation again?
We get to the bar to watch the game. And if any of you saw this game you know why we all looked like this…(great shot, Nikolav)
The shit was a tragedy. But it served Brazil right for displacing so many poor people to carry out these games! Yep, I said it. Hmph!
We all then made our way to Bricks where before I knew it we were hopping around and going HAM. Hilarious.
Our final day we had a few more presentations, lunch and said our farewells.
And of course we had to close with our soccer stance, in honor of the World Cup.