First Vienna Impressions

We’ve been in Vienna just about a month.  We arrived to a terrific apartment.  We are lucky to have met a friend in Seattle with an apartment to rent for exactly these 6 months (while they are in Seattle working for Microsoft).  It’s near an old village, Grinzing, which has now been somewhat absorbed by the city as it bumps into the foothills that surround Vienna.  We can jog into the city or up into the vineyards.  Of course, the Viennese have strategically placed a wine house on the top of every hill with a good view. There are also lots of local wine houses, heurigans, in our part of town.  Some are pretty touristy but we are slowly discovering the more authentic and cozy places.

Zoey is attending a bilingual public school.  It’s a melting pot of folks from all over the world. The teacher is kind but very strict.  It’s tough to miss even one evening of homework.  School meets from 8am-1pm, which makes for a very short and intense school day.  Logan started in a Viennese kindergarten but kindergarten here is really a daycare and it’s against the law (seriously!) for kids under 6 years old to start 1st grade.  We eventually found a small private English immersion school with a “preschool” – which is a special class that’s sort of in-between daycare (kindergarten) and 1st grade.  Yup, an American education from a teacher born and raised in Vancouver BC but a room full of Austrian kids.  She enjoys it and will start the after school program next week.

Vienna itself is a bottomless city.  It’s actually been somewhat overwhelming to figure out about opera tickets, museums, palaces, balls, kid’s activities, day trips, etc.  After a month, we finally have a bit of a lay of the land. We have ballet tickets for tonight and will go see Madame Butterfly in a few weeks.  Last week, I was amazed to see a large group of uber-cool high school kids ice-skating to classical music.  Then, I went to speak with the director of my department and found him blasting opera in his office.  Music really is everywhere.

Work is going well.  I have a little card table in a little office in a gorgeous old, yellow, house that is the IHG (an International Ecology and Hydrology Center) at the University for Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU).  Everyone has been fantastically helpful.  I have a series of lectures set up but haven’t given any yet.  There has been plenty of work from Seattle to keep me busy and I am just beginning to get involved in some Austrian projects.  Bill set up a meeting with a forestry professor at the same university for next week.  He has also talked with some folks from WWF.  Of course, the cultural differences between ecologists and the rest of the world are bigger than any differences between American and European ecologists so it’s been easy to get along.

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