Monday, April 9, 2012

Bjarni & Dorte did Vienna - part 2

Pff.... I'm trying to think how to sum up the whole Vienna experience. I don't know where to start, and it doesn't even seem very important now after we have spent an intense week and half with family and friends in Denmark and Iceland, and are looking towards all that is about to start in Boston in just a couple of days. I talked to the woman next to me on the plane to Iceland (a kid is an excellent ice breaker). An Icelandic woman who had lived 38 years in Denmark. She was telling me, how she would feel her roots instantly grow hundreds of meters through the ground every time she'd put her feet on Icelandic soil, although she loved living in Denmark and felt very much at ease there -- there was just an instant connection every time she went back home. The past week and half I've felt connected in the same way, making Vienna feel far far away. Nevertheless, I want to finish this blog in proper manner, which requires a couple of words:
For us Vienna was mostly about studying/finishing studies and building our own little family. 
Had we had more time and energy I think we would have put more effort into building a well grounded network (expat networks are fragile with people constantly coming and going), we would definitely have gone on more trips outside of the city, and we'd probably put more discipline into learning the language. But in the end there is just so much one can do, and despite real-life shortcomings to the ideal stay, I feel confident to say we made the most of it. It was fun, tough, frustrating, smokey, eye-opening, inspiring, challenging, and rewarding. Although it was hard at times, and it surely was, I leave with lots of great memories: the weekly farmer markets, Augarten around the corner, cakes!, Christmas markets, the great public transport system, Sturm, the health care system (great with a little one), the sound of horse carriages during lectures, the inexpensive child care opportunities, the beautiful city center and Wiener Melange. All that is pretty amazing. That also means there are plenty of good reasons for the three of us to come back to visit Austria and Vienna; not least to see all of what we never managed to do and see this time around. 

Thanks for following our journey in Wien. If interested you can follow the next one over on Where do we go next?  

Alles gute & Auf Wiederschauen :)

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Bjarni & Dorte did Vienna - part 1

Greetings from Iceland! I ran out of time in Vienna. I will be back with another picture post, and hopefully some thoughts about the whole experience in retrospect. For now I wish you a happy and sunny Easter!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I pulled Bjarni's arm Friday night as we pushed a suitcase and the stroller through the central train station in Budapest, and exclaimed: I'm SO happy we came! We were just about to cancel, when I went to bed with a fever the night before. Earlier in the week Silja had been home two days because of a stomach bug, the whole packing ordeal had turned our apartment into chaos and my last exam/thesis defense was lurking around the corner, and I had not spent enough time preparing for it. There were plenty of reasons to stay home and catch up on the to-do list, but this was the weekend to go, if we wanted to see Budapest before we leave. It's a 2,5 hour train ride from Vienna, non of us had been before, and the forecast said sun and up to 20 degrees. And so of course we went! And it was great and energizing. I got (lots!) pictures to prove it. Go if you are in Vienna, and hasn't already been.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

On the Upside

Thoughts on two challenges connected to a life in Vienna that makes it feel rewarding and worthwhile.
Silja's vocabulary is rapidly expanding these days, and it is mind-blowing to see how she picks up three different languages like the most natural thing in the world. In daycare she says Papa Arbeit, Auto, geh mal and baba (see you) The other day they were playing outside when Bjarni came to pick her up, and one of the teachers said to her: Du musst an die andere Seite gehen Silja - and she turned around and walked the other way to the slide. Bjarni and I are looking at each other and are like: Whoa!  

I have requested a copy of my journal at the hospital where I gave birth. I need it because I had a complicated birth, which has led doctors to suggest a C-section might be better next time. I got the copies a while back, and it's strange to to look through them and, in medical terms and handwriting I can barely make sense of, be reminded about the crazy intense experience a birth is. When I think back I'm quite stunned that I managed that whole thing in a language I only master on an intermediate level. So in addition to the informative purpose the documents serve, they are nice little cue to myself that I gave birth in German! And hey, if I can do that, I can do pretty much anything.

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Efficient Weekend

Ah, this weekend has been good! Three moving boxes stacked in a corner, several bags dropped off in the clothing recycling containers, a trip to Hundertwasser Museum with coffee breaks at random places. And dancing-jumping-singing with Silja in between. 
Luckily things have turned out well since the last post. I got a good advisor, who despite a conference in Brussels, will read and grade my thesis by next week, which means my exam will be as scheduled. Big big relief! 

I hope you have enjoyed a sunny weekend too.
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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Please remain calm

I forgot how stressful a move is in its final stages. A month from now I will be in Denmark with Silja - Bjarni will join us there shortly after. But this last month.... Craazy. I think we were slightly overambitious when we planned that we would leave right after I finished my MA studies. As an international student I'm currently running from office to office, filling out bureaucratic paperworks and making sure I'm adhering to deadlines and guidelines and what not. But in between my broken German and secretaries', at times, rusty English, misunderstandings still happen. I submitted my thesis in the beginning of this week, but learned at the same time that I need a grade for the thesis two weeks BEFORE I can register for the final exam. My advisor, who is relatively new to Uni Wien didn't know either. She now has less than a week to read and grade my 100 page paper, if I'm to take the final exam before we leave. This whole mess has now left us trying to postpone the exam to the last minut, one or two days before I leave Viennea. Worst case scenario is that I have to come back to do the final exam over the summer, but man, I hope this works out before we go. I was hoping for a little breather after I had submitted my thesis, but it doesn't feel like it now. I will be studying and packing/organizing right up until we leave.

On a positive note, Silja finally received her US visa, and we decided to ship our belongings straight from Vienna, making that part considerably more easy. What else? We are drinking the expensive wine, because there is no need to save things like that for special occasions. From now on its clearing things out, which has its nice moments to it too.

Phew, I hope to check in sooner than later, but we'll see how it goes.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012


We have been celebrating Fasching over the last couple of days. Eating fastelavnsboller, the Danish equivalent of Krapfen with Danish and German friends, and today Silja celebrated the festivities in Kindergarten dressed up as a little lamb -- very Icelandic.

Today we have settled where we will stay in Boston until the end of August. Turns out we will have a garden over the summer. Oh yeah!

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Frozen Morning

We were early for our visa interview at the US consulate this morning, and went for a walk in Stadt Park to kill time. Although the Siberian winter conditions have left Vienna, the city is still frozen. According to the weather forecast the weekend will bring sun and 6 (S I X) happy degrees.
We got the visas. Well, except from Silja, whose newly issued passport has been delayed from the Danish authorities. Hopefully it will get here soon though, so she can come along. Vienna is nice, but we don't want to leave her behind. Next on the to-do list is to find a rental van to take to Hamburg (and leave there) with all our stuff that will then be shipped to Boston. Oh, is it nice this endless to-do list is getting shorter.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Brazilian Generosity

South west of Vienna, far far away in the tropics of Brazil has a sweet old grandmother made four pairs of soft knitted baby shoes for Silja. I got them earlier this week, when I met with my dear friend Priscilla for lunch. She went back home to do fieldwork in Brazilian prisons over the summer (yeah, forget about my coffee dates with skilled migrants in Vienna...) and the grandmother gave her a bag with more shoes for the friend in Austria, who had a baby. She also provided two pairs when Silja was newborn. Oh well, now they don't fit. In fact we need to go and buy new shoes, because those feet are growing so fast, but we'll save these little ones well, and hopefully the hand-knitted goods from a Brazilian grandmother will eventually fit someone else's tiny feet.

Have a happy weekend!

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Glugga veður

There's an Icelandic expression that I like, and which fits perfectly to this weekend, where Wien like most of Europe has experienced double digit minus degrees. Brrr! Glugga veður or window weather is when the weather is sunny and beautiful, but only enjoyable from the (warm!) inside looking out. We didn't stay inside the entire time, but the trips outside were minimized and shortened as it was just so freaking cold!

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Saturday, January 28, 2012


When completely stuck in the writing mode, it's good to be dragged outside to see the winter sun, go on the big swing at the play ground and eat cake, and remember it's just a long university paper after all and not something the entire world depend on. Now I'm back, ouzo in hand (not a big fan though), and ready with the outline for a rearranged final chapter. As oppose to earlier today I can see an end to this. Yay.
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Moving Schizophrenia

As we are getting closer to leaving and things slowly fall into place I get into this standard moving schizophrenia mode. I say standard because I know this is a completely normal reaction to a move (of course it's called something else), and I have tried it before, and I know all will work out in the end. It's just a phase...

Nevertheless this is the time - for me at least - of fluctuating between feeling invigorated and optimistic about new beginnings, a fresh start, and new adventures in one moment and sad and nostalgic the next about leaving behind the safe base we have built up here over the last two and half years.

We cannot take all our stuff with us when we move, it's simply just to expensive and honestly a lot of the stuff are not even worth shipping all that way. So, we will bring all our personal belongings, but we will leave behind almost all our furniture. The other day we got an email from the owners of the apartment saying they would like to buy it all: tables, chairs, TV, bed, couch, closets. Everything! Do you know how much trouble that saves us?! It basically means we can just pack everything else up in boxes, scrub the place down and when the time comes,
just get up and leave like were we just going to run to the super market and be back five minutes later. But it also means that we are literary leaving our home behind us. Things we have carefully selected even before we moved in together, and things that for us have a history. So while I can't wait to get a new sofa, because the one we have is totally uncomfortable and I've been dying to replace it for a loong time, it is still the sofa we bought, when we got out first apartment together. To cut the ties to these material things all at once suddenly feels more difficult than anticipated, although I know that a lot would slowly be replaced if we were to stay put. Now it's like ripping of a band-aid all at once -- rhiiipp -- and then plunge into a whole new start - along with a crib and boxes full of clothes, and books, and toys and all that other moveable stuff that lucky also has a history and significance for us.
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Friday, January 20, 2012

Busy, but

when they call from day care and ask you to come and pick up a little one, who is sitting with a red swollen eye (allergic reaction?), you of course don't care about the abstract meta-theoretical texts you are reading, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense anyway. And when the little one wakes up after her nap, the swollen-ness gone, you of course suck the marrow out of that afternoon with apple/cinnamon buns, somersault in the bed and drawings of shoes (go) and cats (mao), which is all the little one cares about, when it comes to drawing.
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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Friday, January 6, 2012


Well, turns out today is Epiphany, which in Austria is a public holiday: No work, no Kindergarten... A whole day off and a long weekend! Thank you. I realized it late last night, and was surprised how it was all of sudden weekend already. I will miss all these public holidays that are conveniently spread out over the year, when we leave Austria, but then there will be Memorial Day, Labor Day and so on.
We went for a sunny but freezing walk in the park, and came back for hot chocolate and house searching in Boston. We are in the middle of quite big logistic puzzle that requires long lists and a cool overview, and sweet Bjarni is so on top of it!
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