I leave for Austria tomorrow for five weeks. In a word, I am petrified.
Yes, this is a fabulous opportunity and I handpicked my location so there’s no room for regret or complaint there. I’m the only person from my school going but the people that I’ve talked to from other schools seem super nice and I’m super excited to meet them and hanging out with them is going to be just plain super. Everything is paid for, so a big shout out and monumental thank you go to the parentals. I’ve packed and then unpacked, and then repacked, and even though I’ve still stressed over the fact that a month and a half’s worth of clothes should not be confined to one suitcase and a small duffel, I googled portable defibrillators and it looks like it’ll be cheaper if I just chill the fuck out about it. Hell, I’ve even gotten all of my textbooks except for one, and that’s fine because I never really wanted to read Frankenstein anyway. So why oh why am I so scared?
For starters, I don’t speak German. After a combined 4 1/2 years of Spanish and Italian you’d think I’d choose a country that converses in one of the Romance languages, but I lost my map of Easy Street when I was like 12, so to Austria it is. Luckily, I picked up a book of offensive phrases called Dirty German (purchase here if you’re feeling randy, baby) so if and when the opportunity arises, I can tell someone, “Fick dich ins Knie!” and be on my merry way. I’ve already memorized how to say “slut,” “bitch,” and “He is fugly,” yet I couldn’t tell you how to ask where the bathroom is. Basically, I’ll definitely be getting into a bar fight while simultaneously peeing my pants. Wish it was the first time.
Another topic of concern is food. I used to be a very picky eater. I’ve come around in recent years (yogurt and olives are the most recent additions to my diet), but when researching Austrian delicacies brought me to such gems as “Beuschel – a stew containing calf lungs and heart” I nearly had an aneurysm. I don’t even like cheeseburgers, how on Earth am I supposed to stomach baby-cow-part soup? As an avid consumer of peanut butter, tears actually came to my eyes when I was told that I would be unable to purchase a simple jar of Jif or Skippy whenever I pleased. Apparently, all they have is the nasty all-natural goo with the peanut oil floating around the top that leaves yellow-brown gritty gunk on the back of your tongue for days. I suppose it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I went a few weeks without my daily dose of fully hydrogenated vegetable oils, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. A girl cannot live on schnapps and strudel alone. Not morally, anyway.
Real talk: Adults love me. Parents, grandparents, teachers, the lady that works at the food kiosk inside one of the buildings on campus who calls me “Honeypie;” I don’t know what it is that I do, but they eat it right up. So one would think that I’d be able to effortlessly charm the lederhosen off of any host frau that I was paired with. You know what’s different about Austrian adults? First of all, I can walk up to any of my friends’ parents and nonchalantly say, “Whattup, Bill.” Such an unthreatening name. Now imagine trying to do the same thing to someone named Felix or Maximilian. The letter X is probably the most intimidating letter of the whole alphabet, and between that and this symbol à ß ß I have no idea how I’m going to say hello to these fine people, much less sleep under their roof. I’ve expressed this fear of menacing erwachsene to my own mom who assured me that I was ridiculous, which wasn’t helpful but is nothing new. Guess I’ll either come back from this trip with a new Mutti or she’ll have whipped me so far into shape I’ll only wear dirndls for the rest of my life.
If anyone has any advice in terms of how to cope with these worries, hit a sista up. Tips, tricks, inside scoop, I’ll take it all. Unless you’re like my dad and your idea of beneficial guidance is telling me to watch the movie Taken. I’m trying to quell my fears here, not obsessively calculate my street value.