In my last post I told y’all (yes, that’s what we say here in Texas) that leaving home made me really sad. As soon as I arrived in Austin though, I was happy.
After I had picked up my heavy luggage (when you try to fit your whole life into one suitcase, it weighs quite a bit) at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, I just stood there for a second and tried to realise that I just arrived in Texas, my new home. I took a deep breath and looked around. The warm air smelled like summer and was filled with the sound of cheerful country music. The shop next to me sold cowboy boots and Texas Longhorn T-Shirts. People were passing by and when they saw my puzzled look, they would smile at me, friendly and encouraging. That was the moment when I fell in love with Austin.
And this love should grow stronger and stronger in the next weeks, for several reasons.
First of all, the campus life here is amazing. You can’t compare it to the university life in good old Austria. As I walked around my new neighbourhood, West Campus, in my first days, I was surprised to see that there wasn’t one single actual grown up on the street (Yeah, I know, theoretically I’m a grown up too. And all the frat guys dragging themselves to class with eyes only half open, after a rough night playing beer pong, too. But you know what I mean, I mean the real ones.) At home there are a lot of older people and students don’t live in one place but are spread out over the whole city. I was not used to seeing only people around my age, all just wanting to have a good college time, meet other students and have fun.
And the great thing is, you can see friends and have fun within walking distance! All the people you want to meet up with live like 10 minutes away from you. You need a midnight snack, a beer or a late night conversation? Just step out of your apartment, go any direction and you sure will find something! If a friend here calls me at 11 pm and asks if I’m down for a drink, I usually am. That’s because I just have to walk across the street and there is my favourite bar, sweet Cain&Abels, where I traditionally spend every Tuesday with a $1 beer in my hand. Admittedly, American beer tastes a little like water and sometimes I really doubt that there even is alcohol in it, but hanging out at Cains still is great!
What really amazed me was the way students looked and how they go to school. When I went to university on my first day there, felt like I fell into one of these American college movies I saw. All the girls hanging around on Campus with their sorority sisters, a Starbucks cup in their hands, wearing Yoga Pants and Sweaters twice as big as themselves. Or shirts that are so long that you can’t see the running shorts they’re wearing and think that they’re not wearing any. And the frat boys with their caps and these washed out T-Shirts that look like their grandfathers had already worn them and the Greek letters everywhere which all look the same to me.
I was really happy to see that people go to school in what you should be supposed to go to school: comfortable clothes. University is rough enough and not always exactly fun to be at. So why do people at my business school in Vienna feel like they have to make a day of studying even worse by going there all dressed up, with a ton of make-up and a catwalk ready outfit?! I love the way people here go to school. Come to class with your workout clothes – no one cares! Don’t wear Make-Up and messy bun – perfectly fine! Wear a not exactly sexy but really handy bag back – everyone does it! Do that stuff in Vienna and everyone will look at you like you’re a homeless person who got lost and for some reason ended up at a University campus. I’m definitely gonna take this whole chilled attitude back home to Vienna, even if it means that people will look weirdly. If you get used to getting up 20 minutes before class starts in the morning, you don’t want to get back to the one hour “Oh god, I gotta look good at school or people will think I’m not a good student AND a lazy person” routine. Because, actually I am a lazy person. At least at 7:30 in the morning. It’s just too early.
Oh, and don’t let me forget the most important thing about Austin: The nightlife! You can go out pretty much every day. There’s always some stuff going on. In my first weeks here I went out around five times a week. The famous 6th street, is completely crazy. It’s called “Dirty Sixth” and they call it that for a reason. A street full of escalating party people, cheap drinks and loud, fun bars. (And freaking expensive pizza, by the way. Why do americans do that? Five dollar for a tiny slice of pizza, in the middle of the night, when I could actually eat a whole cow? Whyyy would you do this to me?!) A lot of live music is going and a LOT of dancing.
I’ve never danced as much in my whole live as did here in the last weeks. And no, I don’t mean the usual hopping from one feet to another dancing or the twerking stuff. I mean REAL dancing, with holding hands and steps you have to do and spinning around. Since I came here I’ve “learned” not only a few Latin dances but also how to Swing and Country dance. Well, at least the basic steps. And how to act as if you’d knew what you’re doing. And you know what? It’s amazing! I’m so thankful for the lovely people I’ve met here that are not only great dancers but are also ready to share their knowledge. They taught me and the other dancing newbies what to do and didn’t mind us moving like robots while staring at our feet instead of elegantly swirling over the dancefloor, like they do. It was a whole new experience. Especially the one time they took us to a Latin dance club where all the people were moving their hips like Shakira and looking like Jennifer Lopez while I was highly focused on starring at my feet, trying to not break my partners’ toes.
So, I’ve already made a lot of great experiences here in Austin. Last night I came back from Spring Break in Florida which also was pretty amazing. There’s definitely gonna be a post about that later! And I still have to tell you about me at the shooting ranch, me at the country club and me in New Orleans. Soo, stay posted! J