Thursday, October 25, 2012

Exploring the City

We spent most of our first two weeks in Vienna running errands, buying household items, setting up cell know, life stuff. Then one night we were at a Bible study and someone asked us "have you enjoyed doing some of the touristy things here during your free time?". We hadn't! This week, we finally decided to take advantage of some of our free days before school starts Monday, and we began exploring our beautiful city. Here are some photos of the buildings, places and views we've seen...

In front of Karlskirche

Nate's favorite place - the cheese store at the market

Some intricate graffiti near our apartment, along the canal

Stephanskirche - a beautiful cathedral in the city center

The winter palace, with a historical excavation in front of it

The gardens of the Schonbrunn Palace

A panaramic photo of the Schonbrunn Gardens

The canal path near our apartment where we've been walking and exploring

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A "Classic" Cross-Cultural Experience

So far, we've been here for a week and a half. Time flies! We've been spending most of our time acclimating to life here, by exploring different parts of the city, purchasing household goods, figuring out where to buy toiletries and certain kinds of food... things like that. We have also had to accomplish a few more "official" tasks like getting cell phones, visiting government offices and opening an Austrian Bank account. We are slowly whittling away at the list!

One of the tasks, however, has taken us much longer than expected. We went out earlier this week to obtain international driver's licenses and, let's just say, things didn't go as planned. Here are a few "highlights" from our adventure:
  • We found out that we could have done this at a AAA in the States (would have much been easier...but not as exciting!)
  • We tried to find the Austrian auto club and got lost because Google didn't know where it was
  • We found help at a Hilton Hotel and then walked half an hour in the rain to finally arrive at the auto club 
  • After all this, we came home empty handed! 
We filled out paperwork and communicated in broken German to the receptionist (successfully!) and at the end of the appointment, we were handed documents and told to visit another office to the get licenses. This is very Austrian - lots of paperwork, offices and bureaucracy.

The whole time, we maintained a positive attitude, mostly because it was exactly what we had been told to expect. The task took MUCH longer than we expected, we got lost, we had trouble communicating and in the end, we did not even accomplish our goal. A classic cross-cultural experience!

As we continue to cross the bridge from one culture to another through experiences like this, we hope we can continue to laugh and enjoy the adventure. We hope to continue finding the positive in these situations, like the fact that we were able to communicate with the receptionist or that we are now one step closer to  our goal. There is always a silver lining and out of every experience, we learn something new.

Photo credit: MetalliX from

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Things we're getting used to...

 Sleeping in two twin beds pushed together. Lots of room, which is good, but we have separate blankets, which is not my favorite.

 Drying all of our clothes on drying racks. It's common here not to have a dryer. I miss it already, but it's also much better for our clothes to hang dry!

 No car! We are enjoying riding the public transportation system everywhere, but we have to get used to travel time being less predictable.

Sorting garbage. Above is our sorting system in the kitchen, with containers for biodegradable items, metal, glass, plastic, paper, and "the rest".
A small washing machine. Isn't it cute? It washes just a few shirts and pants at a time...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Video Blog: From There to Here!

Our journey from Chicago to Austria was quite the adventure! It included 7 suitcases, 4 carry-ons, 2 flights, a 4-hour layover, and 2 excited but tired travelers. But at the end of it all, we arrived at our apartment in Vienna ready to begin our new life here. Here's a look into our journey from there to here!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Our Arrival in Vienna

Our field leaders, Peter and Celeste, had the foresight to bring a camera to the airport. Here are photos from our arrival in Vienna a few days ago!

Rolling our 7 suitcases and 4 carry-ons our of customs!

Posing with Peter and Celeste

Going out to dinner with a friend from church after arriving

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Quick Tour of our Apartment

Here is a quick tour of our apartment. The mirrors make it a bit confusing. We are excited to be here.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Last Day

Today, we get on a plane and fly across an ocean. We have sold or stored everything we own except for the seven suitcases we are taking with us to the airport today. We sold our car yesterday. It was the last piece of the puzzle. Our world has already changed in so many ways, but today we step off into a huge pile of brand new things. I can't explain what it feels like to be here. I really wish I could. Overwhelming sounds like a really great explanation, until it happens to you. Then it gets a little more complicated.

The question we have received most often recently is, "what does it feel like?" I wish I had a straight forward answer to that. It feels like so many things. When I reach into my "feelings bag", so many emotions vie for my attention. I am somewhere between excited but not sure what to expect, afraid of the unknown, and saddened at the loss. Most of the time I'm not sure how I should feel.

All of this brings me to yesterday, where I was feeling pretty overwhelmed. We had just sold our car, and I was feeling the weight of all that was going on around me. I have been reading through Isaiah (more like slogging through it...reading all of the oracles concerning this people and that people was challenging.) In chapter 40, Isaiah launches into a very poetic expression of the character of God. Much of it Handel grabbed for the Messiah oratorio. The end of the chapter was exactly what I needed.

Isaiah 40:28 - 31
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

The whole chapter is about how frail and weak we are, reminding us that we serve a God that does not change. Reading this passage was an important reminder for me. This journey fits into the context of God's plan and He will care for us.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Packed Up, Shipped Out

Yesterday, we spent the day at our friends' Tim and Rebecca's house. Why? Because they were generously storing our household belongings for the last15 months! Thank you, Tim and Rebecca! And yesterday, we were finally able to move out of their basement and take our belongings off their hands.

We hired a shipping company to come pick up all of our belongings and prepare them to be shipped to Austria. And let me tell you, this was quite the process! They had to open each box to verify it's contents, create a log of what was in each item (there were 102 items/boxes in all), record the serial numbers of all electronics, and then pack them like puzzle pieces into these two lift vans (large wooden crates).

When we had it all brought out to the garage and we looked at the crates, we were all worried that it wouldn't fit. There was no way! But sure enough, our belongings actually fit in the two lift vans with room to spare. We had originally budgeted for the 2 crates PLUS an extra smaller container...and we didn't need the third container! This saved us money, which was very good news.

It was exciting to pack it all up and watch it drive away. It's just one more step that makes moving to Austria very real. We haven't been able to access or use our household items for over a year now and seeing it all packed into the crates makes me excited for the day when the container arrives and we get to make a home for ourselves again. It will be like Christmas! Although this is still 6 - 8 months away, the day is coming! (Our belongings will be stored in the States until we receive our longterm visa and sign a long term lease on an apartment. Then they will be shipped to us in Austria, probably in May 2013.)

Just a few more days until we are also 'packed up and shipped out'. We're ready for the adventure to begin!