A lot happened these past couple weeks so I’m just gonna lay it all out as much as I can and give my initial assessment of what it’s like here.
I landed at the Vienna International airport a day ahead of orientation, so I got to unpack my things and get settled in my new home. I noticed two things right away, (1) omg this cab ride is so expense and (2) omg, this city is gorgeous! Vienna is apparently very dedicated to constantly keeping their old buildings in great condition. Most of these buildings were built in the 19th century and have been treated wonderfully over the years. Here’s a panorama picture right outside of my apartment!
I’m not kidding, all the buildings look like that. And they just get more elegant as you get closer to the center!
So after the first day, I had to leave Vienna immediately. We were told to meet at the airport and we would take a bus to Mariazell for a four-day orientation. It was a bit strange because I was only meeting new Americans at that point, and I was frankly uninterested. The group studying here is upper-class and white, as one might expect. I immediately met quite a few fraternity guys and they were frankly really scary. But then I just took a deep breath, accepted the fact that I’m in a new space, and just went on. The first couple days was filled with all sorts of microaggressions like “oh, you’re MUSLIM?!! I never met one of those before!”, “yeah man, don’t white people just suck” (this was said to me by a white man, we barely met) and a number of others that I won’t share. Some people I called out and they (fake) apologized. But there were a good number of people I decided I just need to avoid this entire time. Of course, these things happen anytime I meet new people, but this group was particularly insistant.
Meanwhile, I won’t even talk about the classism here. I’ll leave that to your imagination.
So I was a bit lonely at the beginning, but I was still meeting new people and more importantly, I got to explore the city of Mariazell. It’s a fascinating place of pilgrimage, with a statue of Mary that’s centuries years old right in the center. The cathedral is one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen. It was originally in the gothic style, but during the counterreformation, they expanded it and adjusted it to a baroque style. I spent hours just sitting in this building admiring all the intricate little details that went into this giant work of art. Some pictures below.
After Mariazell, we got back to Vienna. I ate a lot of street food and did very little fancy stuff because those cost money. But I did get to walk around and enjoy the incredible scenery Vienna has to offer. There are a couple bars around here, some taverns, and best of all, cheap food! Just being here makes me better understand the muses at work for the composers I have looked up to my whole life. Schubert, Brahms, Mahler, Berg, Schonberg, Webern, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, etc. They were all here, I can feel a sense that art has to be the very best in the world here (whether that’s good or bad, you can decide). It’s also a staunch reminder of how much white supremacy is infused into this artform, but that’s a topic for another blog post.
So what else happened? Well, I’m doing a public service internship here. I’m going to be helping out at a refugee house 8-10 hours a week and will be looking more into how public service works around here. For example apparently, people give more money to animal welfare than children. I also am taking lessons on organ and composition as soon as I find a teacher and I can’t wait to get back on the pipes! Pieces are coming along rather well and recital planning is only a little bit behind schedule (oops).
There’s so much more I want to write about. Orientalism is REALLY strong here. The racism here is very different, it’s much less violent so I like that more. There’s a lot of denials here (no! racism doesn’t exist here!) also there’s apparently a fascist running for president. These are just sort of little trends I’ve been noticing, but definitely expect me to get into a lot more detail on those in later blog posts.
For now, please enjoy these pics of Vienna! I’ll keep you updated soon when I start taking lessons and make my trip to Berlin to see Symphonie Fantastique and the Turangalila! As well as a brief excursion to Paris 🙂 Auf Wiedersehen!