It was a quick trip, but an amazing experience.
I spent almost 4 full days in Vienna, eating various forms of pork and drinking all types of beer, meeting new people, and learning SO much about ICT in the PYP (teacher’s love their acronyms; for you laymen, that’s Information and Communication Technology in the Primary Years Programme).
I spent Thursday travelling – from midnight when I went to the airport (more than 2.5 hours early – what was I smoking?) to mid-day Thursday when I arrived in Wien. I’m generally a fan of the quick 45-60 minute layover, having just enough time to get to the new gate, but 6 hours wasn’t so bad. I lost a ridiculous amount of money exchanging my KD (why I would do this in Istanbul, I don’t know), enjoyed a h(ar)am and egg McMuffin (my first of two annual McDonald’s trips came early this year), bought some WiFi (something I’m generally too cheap to do – all airports should provide free WiF), and got some work done (umm, I don’t have a side note for this).
I was lucky to meet a pretty awesome guy Thursday night. Ya know those travellers with whom conversation just flows? The ones you feel a connection to right away? I love meeting these people. So he joined me at a recommended restaurant for – you guessed it – beer and a meal of pork, followed by another couple beers at a beer garden down the way. A good night, but not quite as early as I had planned (don’t get any ideas – it’s just friendly).
I awoke early the next morning for my much anticipated workshop about technology in the classroom. I spent the next two and a half days having great professional discussions with the other 5 teachers and 1 workshop leader for my course. We learned and grew together. I drank a fair bit of coffee from the self-serve machine in the lobby, and ate like a Queen. I won’t bore you with the details, but I learned SO much in this workshop and had such an amazing time. I love these professional learning experiences. I just hope I can implement what I’ve learned in the classroom this school year.
The post-workshop wine was delicious (and free – I love Austria!), and the post-reception beer and ribs were almost as great as the company. The other great thing about these workshops is that everyone is there for a weekend, open to meeting new people and socializing after the workshop. I’m pretty happy to have found a good group to hang out with Friday night. It was a fulfilling night, and I should have gone straight to bed… but staying in a hostel doesn’t exactly allow for early nights, without some extreme determination (I’m weak). Three beers and a few chess matches later, I hit the sac, ready for day 2 of the workshop.
The next couple of days involved a heck-of-a-lot more beer and chess as well. It’s been a long time since I played chess, but I got really into it this weekend and I really hope I can keep practicing – it’s something I’ve wanted to “get good at” for a while now. On Sunday, I went skating with a few people from the hostel. Vienna creates an outdoor skating rink in a main park, with two main surfaces connected by a trail of ice. So after a glass of warm apple wine, we skated through the trees and around the open surfaces. What a great atmosphere!
While I didn’t see too much of Vienna, I had one of the most amazing professional experiences I’ve had, and got a taste of travel-life, too. Returning back to Kuwait has been tough, especially since I wasn’t ready for the week of school (why I didn’t do that in the airport, I don’t know). The transition is tough because I am so excited to live free of the 9-5 restrictions (which is only 5 months away!!). I think every time I travel, it’ll be a little more difficult to get back into the routine. Luckily, I’ve got lots to focus myself on, including soaking up all the things I’ll miss in Kuwait. I told a friend when I got back that my heart belongs elsewhere, and nowhere. But right now, my heart belongs in Kuwait, pouring itself into my work and my life here.
“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” – Confucius