• Austria's news in English

'You're just trying to get a sentence out'

The Local · 28 Aug 2014, 11:24

Published: 28 Aug 2014 11:24 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
Where were you living prior to Vienna and what brought you to Austria?
Prior to Vienna I lived in Greece, and before that I was living in the States, working in public schools. I wanted to travel and I realised the only way I could afford to do that was to work at an international school. So I got a job at an American school in Greece and worked there for two years, then got the job here in Vienna. I chose Vienna because it's the musical capital of the world.
Did you speak any German before you arrived and what level was required by your employer?
German isn't a requirement for my job whatsoever. It's completely English-speaking. I did two years of German in high school, but that hasn't benefited me very much at all. I've taken German classes since I got here and I'm up to B1 level, but I'm still struggling daily.
What do you find most challenging about living in a country where the first language isn't English?
I can speak a little German if I have to, but I can't get across what I'm really trying to say, the inflection that I could use in my native tongue. You can't be funny, you can't be emotional, you're just trying to get information out there. It's frustrating because you've never had to do that, you've always been able to have your personality behind everything you say and suddenly you're just trying to get a sentence out.
What are the most commonly asked questions when people hear that you're American?
Well, the first is not so much a question... When people find out that I'm from Kentucky, they always say, "Kentucky Fried Chicken". They just say it. Every time. And they're very proud of themselves for knowing it.
I get a lot of Obama questions. Do you like Obama? Did you vote for Obama? I get a lot of comments about war, which I totally understand. Not so much questions, I guess, but comments about it. We do, we go to war way too much, I know that.
What do you enjoy most about living in Vienna?
The ease of everything here. I feel spoilt, living here after Greece. I never have to stress that a bus is going to be late or that things will be closed for no reason. The water is clean, I know that the electricity is going to work and the internet here is super-fast. I can walk everywhere, instead of having to take a bus for half an hour. Maybe if it's really far away, but usually from my apartment I can walk most places. It's relaxing, it's a good feeling.
What do you miss most from home?
Story continues below…
Living in the States, everything is open 24 hours a day, everything you need is in one store, you don't have to really work too hard to find anything. There are new inventions constantly - the newest gimmick, I'm a sucker for it. This holiday I bought a cup that has a snack-holder attached to it, because it's awesome. I don't need it, but it's exciting to buy it when you're home. If I lived there I wouldn't buy it, because I'd say "well, this is silly", but because I know I can't get it here, I get excited.
How has working in international schools changed you?
I'm not sure. Teaching children who have English as a second language, I've learnt to appreciate that maybe people don't always understand you so well. Kids pick it up quite quickly, but when they first come to school and they speak no English you see the frustration in their face and I have that same frustration when I'm in the grocery store trying to get 200 grams of beef to take home and I end up with 85 pounds of beef because I can't relay the information.
Children pick it up so fast though. A kid will arrive one day with no English and two weeks later will say "Miss Gaines, may I please go to the toilet?" with perfect fluency. They're so comfortable with it, it's amazing. It has made me wish that America would focus on teaching languages more. Everything in our country is English and Spanish so it's kind of ridiculous that most of us don't speak Spanish. Seeing kids that can speak five or six languages, the way they communicate is incredible. I wish that my country would embrace that a bit more.

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Verdict on swimming pool rape case overturned
The Theresienbad swimming pool in Vienna. Photo: Wikimedia

An Iraqi refugee who was jailed after claiming it was a sexual emergency when he raped a boy in a swimming pool has had the sentence overturned.

Vienna Comic Con promises to be 'bigger and more galactic'
Cosplay star Yaya Han. Copyright: Yaya Han/Bryan Humphrey

Comic Con returns to the Austrian capital on November 19th-20th at the Messe Wien.

Three refugees arrested on drugs charges
Cannabis plants. Photo: J. Patrick Bedell/Wikimedia

A gang of three Afghani drug dealers has been busted in Vienna.

Hungarian woman crushed by snowcat piste machine
Snowcat machine. Photo: Melensdad/Wikimedia

A young Hungarian woman has died after being crushed by a snowcat piste machine on the Dobratsch mountain in Carinthia.

Austrian policeman sentenced over 'Heil Hitler' salute
Photo: Flickr

A policeman in Austria was sentenced on Thursday for shouting "Heil Hitler" at a driver during a traffic check at the Hungarian border in April.

Scary clown craze endangers crucial work of clown 'doctors'
Photo: Bojan Tavcar

Within the last couple weeks, disturbing events involving masked individuals has caught public attention in Austria.

Chimney sweep rescues lost mushroom picker
Photo: James Lindsey/Wikimedia

A 76-year-old Austrian man who went out mushroom picking almost froze to death after getting lost and spending the night in the forest.

Refugees sold into forced prostitution
File photo: UNHCR

Female refugees are being sold into forced prostitution in Austria, a police investigation into human trafficking has found.

Driverless bus takes a spin around Salzburg's old town
The Arma driverless shuttle bus. Photo: Navya

A driverless minibus has made a test journey in the city of Salzburg.

No jail time for asylum seeker who dumped baby in road
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

A man who grabbed his own child and dumped her in the middle of a busy road has been given a nine-month suspended sentence.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available