Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Saga of the Injured Hand

So, in the last blog post, I mentioned that I had to wear a cast for a week because of a strained ligament. That's not true. The outcome isn't that bad, but it took me a while to get the diagnosis that I have now. Here's how it went:

First, the doctor (male) who examined me immediately after the injury said that the ligament wasn't torn. My German teacher specifically asked him, and he said no. What he then said was not that I could get the cast off in a week, but rather that I had to go to the hospital in Braunau (near the school) to see if I needed further medical attention.

One week later and I go to the hospital. They cut the cast off and the two doctors (female) assure me that the ligament is indeed torn. They give me paperwork to fill out so that I can decide whether I want an operation or not and they poke and prod at my thumb so much that I almost pass out in the examination room and then do pass out in the cast room as they're casting my thumb (can I use casting like that?).

I fill out the paperwork, talk with a rather unhelpful person at Adventist Risk Management, and go back to the hospital the next day. The doctor (male) looks at my cast, cuts it off and then tells me to hold a bottle of water. I do. He then says, "It's not torn. If it was torn, you couldn't hold that bottle right now. Also, you aren't bruised in the right places for a tear."

He wrote me a prescription for a thumb brace, which I have to wear for four weeks, after which I will apparently be fine.

Moral of the story: Always see male doctors.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Snowboarding and Other Things

Last week was Ski Week for the language school. I encountered some negativity before I left, in the form of people questioning why I was choosing to learn to snowboard instead of ski. "Skiing is easier!" They said, "You'll have to be really careful not to hurt yourself if you go snowboarding."

To be fair, I also encountered positivity from several of the other language students, who assured me it was easier than all the nay-sayers would have me believe. However, human nature makes us focus on the negative, and I was a bit worried as I began Ski Week. I questioned myself and my ability to learn. As usual when I choose to do this, everything turned out better than I hoped.

The first day I felt pretty awkward with my snowboard. It almost felt like I didn't deserve to have it or walk around with it. We did some warm-up exercises and learned the basics of going down a hill (on the back edge of the board) without dying. I felt pretty good about myself throughout this process. Then we got to the lesson on turns. At this point in the day, I had fallen and gotten up so much that I was really tired and could not execute the turns with any kind of regularity. This frustrated me greatly.

On the second day, I executed several turns pretty much as soon as I tried them. They weren't smooth or graceful, but they were a lot better than the day before. With this newfound confidence, I went and got myself stuck in some powder...possibly more than once. We also did an exercise, which I did really well at. I also survived a red slope, though at one point I knocked all the wind out of myself and had to lay on the slope gasping for a little while.

The third day gave us the choice of either more snowboarding or going shopping. I went snowboarding. We went to a bigger mountain this time, with lots of scary new slopes to fall down (or off of). It was fun. I stopped worrying about executing perfect turns and just concentrated on getting down the hill using a combination of the things I'd learned earlier in the week. Everything improved. We went down some black slopes and at one point I broke one of my bindings in a spectacular crash. This crash was immediately followed by an old guy on skis spraying snow in my face. Having fixed my binding, we continued on down the slope. The trip also forced me to confront my fear of heights. We rode some pretty intense chair lifts. All in all, it was really fun.

The last day was, in some ways, the most exciting. A very short while into the day, as I was snowboarding back down to the bottom of what we called the "Devil's T-Bar" (which I had just fallen off of), I jammed my thumb into the slope. It hurt a lot, and by the time I reached the bottom of the slope, my right thumb had swelled greatly (awkward construction in that sentence). I made my way back to the lodge (which was at the top of the mountain (one took a gondola from the base to the lodge).

I waited for awhile, and then decided to go to the gondola station to see what I could do. My thumb was hurting really bad and I thought I might have broken it. I took the gondola back down to the base of the mountain and then waited for the ambulance to come and get me. It did, complete with an Austrian-speaking driver and a young man doing his required civil service. We picked up another patient on the way to the hospital.

When we got to the hospital, I waited for them to call me. When they did, the doctor looked at my hand and told me to go back out and wait for an X-Ray. I did so. After the X-Ray, there was more waiting. Finally, I was called into another doctor, who felt it was his responsibility to cause me pain. After poking, prodding, and twisting on  my thumb, he sent me into another room with a nurse to get a cast put on my hand.

The cast will only stay on for a week. Although it does make typing hard, I wanted to write this all down before I forgot to. Now I'm back at Bogi and am going to stay pretty much all night tonight in order to watch the Super Bowl.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My General Lack of Geographical Reasoning

I'll start out by making this clear: I do not have a bad internal compass. I got a little lost in Wien, but that's about it. Usually I know exactly where I'm supposed to go, and can use a map or intuition to get there.

I'm talking about something completely different here. I am unable to comprehend distances when it comes to travel or separation. I am also unable to comprehend change of locale. Let me explain.

I left Berlin one day later than my parents. We flew out of the same airport. Although I knew that they had left the day before and were already back in the states, my mind kept telling me that if I went to the gate where they left from, they'd be on the other side of the security checkpoint. That could be interpreted as missing my parents, but were someone I knew to suddenly show up at Bogi, I wouldn't really have a hard time believing it. In my mind, I'm just a few hours away from home. Obviously, my rational mind knows that this isn't the case, but I keep thinking it anyway.

On to the second part. If I get on a plane and fly across the ocean, I don't think, "Wow! I'm in Europe now!" I think, "Look, it's another airport." Yes, people are speaking a different language, but my world is pretty much always boiled down to wherever I am. For instance, when I was in Berlin with my parents, I sometimes didn't want to leave the apartment because I liked it there. Never mind that I was in Berlin and there are lots of things to do there. I didn't really think about the fact I was in Berlin. I was just in an apartment with my parents. I didn't give a lot of thought to where I was going afterward or what I was going to do, I was just existing in a space. Likewise, when I'm at Bogi and in my room, I am just in my room. The world ceases to exist outside of those four walls and I just don't want to go anywhere.

My state is more important to me than my locale. I'm in a hotel room, kind of hungry, and alone. I have Internet. These are the things that are making an impression on my mind. The fact that I'm in Salzburg for the next three nights doesn't even enter my mind unless I force myself to think about it.

It's probably because of these things that traveling is stressful for me. There's a lot of locale changes and distances involved that my brain has trouble handling. In 5 months, I'll fly back to America. In my mind, that's less a journey of thousands of miles and more a logistics thing: I have to pack my bags, go through check-in at the airport, etc. There's really not a lot of thought to the length or distance of the trip, and I'm not expecting a lot of culture shock (though that last bit could be my own naivety).

I'm in Europe, but I can't help but feeling that I'm just in a hotel room. I could be anywhere and my feelings would be the same.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Much is Happening

So, We had our Thanksgiving program here last Thursday. The video can be found here. It went off better than I hoped it would. My German introduction and prayer were also pretty good, although I kept forgetting announcements.

Then, I got sick immediately after at the same time that it snowed (am I allergic to snow?). I'm still a little sick, but it's not a big inconvenience.

Yesterday we went to Salzburg for the Christmas Market and a Christmas concert. My favorite part of the evening was seeing the "Krampus." Essentially, they are people who dress up in devil masks and furry suits and walk around with St. Nicolaus scaring people. The more you react to them, the more they go after you. I was pretty unaffected, as you can see in the following picture.

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Gray

Okay, not really unaffected, I may have been laughing my head off at him. What you can't see is that Amanda is huddled behind me, clinging to my coat and whimpering (there may have been some crying as well). He was after her, but I thought he was kind of funny looking.

I bought some gifts at the market and a nutcracker for myself (because I love nutcrackers). Then we went to the concert, which was about 7-8 people playing such instruments as:  dulcimer, harp, violin, guitar, piano, accordion, and cello. 2 of the people were also singing and one was reading. IT was pretty good, especially at the end when they sang songs with tunes that I knew.

All in all, it was pretty fun. Then today I received my care package from Southern. Apparently they don't believe that I am brushing my teeth (they sent floss, toothpaste, and mints...although oddly, no toothbrush). I also got a $25 online visa card and a $10 iTunes card. It was pretty exciting.

Monday, November 15, 2010

This Last Week

So, on Friday I went into Braunau/Simbach with 4 other guys. We shopped a bit (I bought 2 pairs of gloves at the Army Shop) and then we went to Subway. It was fun, if a bit loud (specifically the car ride).

The activity that dominated the last week was the "Battlefield Hollywood" organization, which is two guys who used to work in Hollywood and now feel that most forms of electronic entertainment are bad. While I agreed with their general points (repetition of themes makes one eventually accept them, violent video games can be harmful, etc.) I disagreed with the examples they used. For instance, Mario is obviously a stand-in for Christ because he had a blue-collar occupation, traveled to another world, loves a woman who wears a crown, and rides a dinosaur (okay, they referred to it as a "steed"). In reality, I think Link would have been a better choice for a Christ analogue, if you're going to do that. Also, they said that in the movie "The Dark Knight," Batman represents Satan and the Joker represents Christ. Raise your hand if you noticed that in the one? Well that just shows that you're being brainwashed.

Yesterday I went swimming at the city pool in Braunau. It only costs 2 Euros for 2 hours with my student ID card. It was fun. It turns out one of the guys I went with is a swimming instructor, so he was giving us lessons on how to swim properly.

Last night was Talent Show. I thought of something really cool that I could do...during the program. A little late, but there might be another opportunity to do it. There were some pretty good acts, and I filmed most of it, so some of that might appear in this space sometime in the future.

I played soccer Saturday night and had a ball hit me in the face so hard that I had a headache the next day. One of the other shots bounced off the ground and into my chin, making me bite my tongue. It now hurts to eat. Also, the Battlefield Hollywood guys played with us and further reinforced the idea that Americans are good goalkeepers.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

New Room!

I got a new room on Friday. It happened like this: on Thursday, I was informed by some other language students that when the second trimester started, I'd be moving to another room. Then, on Friday, my roommate (and his current roommate) approached me and asked if it was okay with me if they roomed together. I said this was fine, and they asked when I had time to switch rooms. A few hours later, I was in my new room. The main reason for the room switch is that my new roommate can be kind of abrasive at times and he snores pretty badly. Neither of these things is really a problem for me, although everyone kept expressing sympathy for my new circumstances. All in all, I have a new room.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Another Long Weekend

So, this will be the second long weekend we've had in a row. Luke is currently sitting two seats down from me trying to figure out what to do this weekend, but I don't have a lot of hope for that.

Last weekend, we didn't do much at all. We went to Munich on Monday and I bought a lot of stuff (mostly for people back home). I don't really want to go anywhere for awhile because I don't want to spend any more money. A side note, completely unrelated-toy stores here are awesome!

We've been doing some activities that are apparently very similar to those on our final exam. Mostly, it involves reading people's situations and then deciding which advertisement will help them the most. It's actually pretty easy for me, although that may just be because it's designed to be logical.

Bogenhofen celebrates Thanksgiving because of the American students. We (the language students) have to make food, decorate the gym, and serve the other students. We also have to provide some sort of entertainment. So, Luke and JC are writing music for a Thanksgiving musical, and I'm directing and narrating the in-between-songs action. I'll post lyrics and possibly music if I get them.

Interesting Note: Work afternoons keep getting shorter and shorter, mainly because I'm getting better at my jobs and manage to finish early pretty much every time.