…. and for Austrians, I guess. Although winter in Princeton had spoilt us with rather moderate temperatures throughout the first few months, we had some pretty cold days in the last weeks. This difference in temperature did not have any remarkable impact on the way I dressed myself or my son. Not really surprising, considering my up-brining: As kids, we wore winter-clothes from the first really cold days in November till Easter – no matter when Easter actually was (which can be as early as March and as late as middle of April!) or what temperatures we had. We sometimes had a pretty rough time these days, wearing tights, woollen sweaters, winter boots (I mean Austrian winter boots!) and a hat (never leave the house without a hat, middle ear infection is just waiting in front of the door!) on warm spring days in early April. I am sure you can imagine how happy we were when we first put on sneakers … I can still feel the pebbles under my feet. Obviously, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree looking at my son and his layers of clothes. Although I am a bit more flexible about the winter-clothes deadline, my son has worn tights, hats, proper boots and of course bodies (onesies) since early December! Most of his American playmates don’t! I still shiver whenever I see their little naked feet or little heads without hats on cold winter days. However, funny enough, American babies or toddlers do not seem to catch a cold or a middle ear infection or suffer from a runny nose more often than our kids do. The only obvious consequence of this way to dress is that American seem to harden their kids up. Successfully …… thinking about American tourists on a Sound of Music Coach in Salzburg. You can recognise them immediately in their shorts and sneakers on chilly days. And you know what, this is not because they did not know where Austria is but because this is the way they are dressed all around the year!! I thought we mountain guys were the brave ones!
It very much reminded me of the time when Sandy was approaching. Again, I heard about it by coincidence only one day before. And again, I did not know what to expect as the media talked about a century-blizzard on the one hand and very unclear forecasts on the other hand. We were – again – too late to prepare ourselves for a few days housebound and powerless. The only thing we could do so was watching Americans and staying calm. And we were lucky! Although vast regions north of New Jersey were hardly hit, Nemo left us with nothing worse than a winter wonderland!
This American Life offers plenty of occasions to celebrate. We certainly try to get the most out of it and that is why our Santa came twice (on the evening of the 24th – but as a female version of course and on Christmas Day) and we do not only celebrate St. Martin or Faschingsdienstag but also Thanksgiving, Presidential Day and Super Bowl!! This year’s Superbowl took place yesterday in New Orleans. We tried to be as American as possible, eating chicken wings, chips and dips, drinking beer and trying to watch this – well interesting – game which looks like nothing but a bunch of very, very strong men running against each other before the whole cuddling is stopped by the referee after every ten seconds. Good for us, that Super Bowl is much more than American Football! It is about commercials: top-brands like Coca Cola, Pepsi, Audi, VW and many more pay fortunes to get at least 30 seconds air time (4 Mill. USD for 30 seconds!!) …. however, where else can to reach 108.4 million prospective clients at once? And above that, being on air at Super Bowl is prestige ….. and there might have been as many people in the audience who watched the whole thing not because of Football but because of the commercials (including myself). And there might have been some who watched it because of Beyonce who performed at the Super Bowl half time show. Beyonce, highly criticised for singing playback at the Presidential Inauguration, obviously performed live this time but soon after that the stadium lost power!! Consequently, the game was suspended for more than half an hour!! This was the time when our “being American” became really challenging as the European perfectionist in us started to be upset and nasty about this hilarious incident. However, we managed to stay calm and not to complain at the NFL or at CBS. We are getting more and more American, I guess.
Btw, the Ravens won 34-31 against the 49ers.
One thing I really missed here in America was my favourite parenting magazine: Nido. I really tried hard to find an equivalent here in America, talked to friends, browsed the Internet but I could not find anything that comes even close to Nido. Thanks to my incredible husband, Nido is now exclusively shipped from Germany to Princeton and makes me happy every month again. The current issue covers a story about families going abroad …. Shanghai, Oslo, Warschau, New York. While it is interesting to read how other families manage their time far away from home, the most remarkable thing for me to read is that they are all – no matter where they are – overwhelmed by the openness, politeness and friendliness of the people there. Our experience is exactly the same. I am still not used to being asked about my wellbeing whenever I enter a store (but I like it!!), still surprised how many people obviously are amazed by our little son (but I am proud ever and ever again!!) and touched by people being so nice and friendly. I know that we Austrians or Germans tend to assume Americans are superficial. You know what, I don’t care!! It just feels good and makes me smile. That is much more I would expect from someone I don’t know!!
Nevertheless, I can still remember lots of smiling faces back home in Austria. Is it us expatriates who behave differently in a foreign country? We’ll go back soon for a few weeks ….. might be interesting to see how we experience things now.
For personal reading: “Wir sind dann mal weg”: Nido 02/2013
Yesterday was an important day for the American citizens. It was not only about President Obama renewing his oath for his second presidential term, it was about celebrating democracy and freedom and about being a great nation. Beyonce sang the National Anthem, Eva Longoria was in the audience, thousands of people gathered in the streets of Washington, millions followed the festivities on television, Michelle Obama’s evening gown was one of the best kept secrets for the last weeks – what a production, what an event! In times like these, facing economic instability and environmental challenges and looking into a very uncertain future, America is celebrating itself, talking about its achievements rather than its problems, being thankful for its freedom and prosperity rather than mourning about its declining spending power, recollecting its core values and inalienable rights. No matter how challenging America’s situation might be, what is created here is hope, confidence and pride. Congratulations America, your optimism is your real strength!
- Read Obamas inaugural address: “Each time we gather to inaugurate a president……..” more….
- Read how the New York Times interprets his speech: “Obama offers liberal vision: We must act!……..” more….
- The Inauguration in pictures: more ….
Maybe it was because it had been designed by a Frenchman or because it felt like spring had already arrived or because we were so excited about being that close (geographically) to Obama (I do not even know if he was in town) ….. I really can’t say why we loved Washington D.C. that much. But we really had a great time there! Luckily, we bumped into the rehearsal for Obama’s Inauguration, watching the Navy or the Air Force Troops marching along Pennsylvania Avenue, listening to announcements at the Capitol welcoming President Obama ….. it almost felt like being a part of it! Having seen “Lincoln” and knowing that Martin Luther’s birthday is just about to come, it was overwhelming to actually stand on the spots where those great things had taken place. For those not really interested in American history, Washington’s great monuments are also worth seeing as lots of world-known movies were set there (eg Reflecting Pool – Forrest Gump). So whatever your interests are, just go to Washington!
Our first visitor here in Princeton was my dear friend Lena. Lena and I worked at the same company when we were both studying millions of years ago. It was not only the fact that we were the only two girls there that made us spending time together but simply the reason that we made a good team – in working, going out and talking about men, work and future plans. We still are and that is why we had a marvellous time together in NYC and here in Princeton. Thank you so much for coming over!!
Enjoy Lena’s favourite pics:
Here are Lena’s impressions:
B: Lena, can you close your eyes for me for a moment and tell me what you hear, smell and see when thinking about America.
L: Interestingly, I can hear nothing but calmness. Despite of NYC’s bustling streets, it was all calm and peaceful to me. My memories are accompanied by the smell of sugar-roasted nuts, heavy cheesecake and – hello reality – a good breeze of not really fresh, rather used air. Manhattan’s street are still very much on my inner eye …. I can see the straight streets which allow you to see until the horizon, bustling during the day and somehow empty in the morning. And I see friendly faces everywhere. Read More »
Can you imagine a 15-year old girl travelling around the world all by herself, staying with people she has not met since she was two or has never seen before, finding a magazine that is so interested in her story that it is publishing her travel journal? Incredible as the story is its main character, Jessie, our second visitor here in Princeton. Witty, funny, very easy to get along with and absolutely passionate about what she is doing, that is how we experienced Jessie in our week together. On her journey she fell in love with lots of things, from the Times Square to the Eiffel Tower, from the mountains to the Christkindl-Markets ….. but what we liked most was that she really fell in love with Austria. This is really good comfort for our Austrian soul as we most of the time do not think of us as a great nation. According to Jessie, we should (at least as a good food-nation).
Enjoy Jessie’s favourite pics:
Here are Jessie’s impressions:
B: Jessie, can you close your eyes for me for a moment and tell me what you hear, smell and see when thinking about America?
J: At the moment it is quite peaceful, Princeton is such a beautiful place and really relaxing – like a yoga retreat. So it is quite quiet, smells very fresh and looks like a fairy tale village. Although when I was in New York a few days ago it was the complete opposite – very loud and busy, full of action! You could hear the honks of cars, people talking and just lots of city noise, no matter if it was midday or 2am. It smelt of all types, depending where you were, but mainly of “street meat” vendors and different foods wafting out of the millions of buildings. I see a city so diverse to anywhere I have ever been to – people f all ages, races, genders and religions walking around trying to make there dreams come true. You have the trillionairs walking around in their Gucci heels, then you have a guy dressed up as Spider Man, making money by giving kids a hi-five. America makes me think of diversity, I have only been to two different places and they may have seemed like two different countries, but not only the diversity between the place but the people to. Read More »
2013 will definitely be the year of people from overseas visiting us. Even if some are still very reluctant – I dare to say even stubborn – to come over (yes Mum, I am talking about you), the rest of your beloved ones turn out to be travel-obsessed, very flexible cosmopolitans. That is why we will be quite busy yet very happy at some times this year. However, it will not be only us who are engaged in thousands things. Our visitors will have a busy time here in Princeton too, trying Cheesecake, Cornbread, Death by Chocolate, visiting Princeton Campus, Grounds for Sculpture, Sandy Hook, playing Chou Chou with Jakob, answering my interview questions and becoming a star on my blog. Apart from that, every of our visitor will show us his or her favourite pics which will definitely be mouth-watering and make it very difficult for you not to get on a plane immediately.
Thank God we never know at New Year’s Eve what the new year is going to bring. On Jan. 1 2012 I had now clue that I was going to marry, move to America, cut my hair or try Bison Grass Vodka for the first time. I might not repeat some of these things this year, I guess. Among all of the thousand things I will do and have to do in 2013, I will start blogging in English as more and more of my dear readers do not live in Golling, Kuchl or St. Koloman (yes, this is the World Wide Web!!). And moreover, those who do, they are all open-minded and able to follow me in English too.