Archive for October, 2009

Bank of America

October 29 2009

Dear Bank of America Customer Service,

Today I closed my Checking account which was just opened in August.  You see, I opened the account because I was under the impression that there would be no surcharges for some banks in Europe.  Now I realize what this means that you will charge me if I don’t use the banks that you want me to use.   I would not close the account for this reason alone, so I will explain to you all of the reasons here.

In addition, I am earning no interest on my $321.11 that is sitting in the account.  I know that the interest would not amount to much, but it is money that I would be accumulating if my money were invested elsewhere.

I called around to find the best exchange rate from USD to Euros.  Bank of America gave me the best quote, so I ordered some Euros through the local branch.  However, when I came to pick the money up … I was slapped with a fee that I was not told about before!  How rude!

Bank of America's graph of phone options

Bank of America's graph of phone options

Finally, I would like to speak about your customer service.  When I walk into a bank, the lines are out the door.  When I call, I have to spend 30 minutes with an automated system before I can speak to a person.  I had to call six times just to find the euro exchange rate.  If my request is not to get the balance of my account, then there is no easy way to find the shortest path to an operator who can help me.  Perhaps just typing 0 works, but that option is not always valid on your system.  I have never been so frustrated with an automated system as I am with Bank of America’s pone system.  I have drawn the graph of the options that appear on the phone, and it is by no means a balanced graph.  Common sense should tell you that a person doesn’t want to choose more than three options before speaking to a person, if they are patient enough to make those three choices.  Let’s not even talk about the loops that someone can get caught in if they choose what sounds like the right choice, but is actually the wrong choice.

I will take my $321.11 elsewhere.    I hope you are satisfied.

Signed,

Brittany.

No longer your customer.

Wine and Dinner

October 28 2009

Yesterday, I ate dinner at Jitka’s apartment, mostly with people in Nick’s group (the biology group).  Michael (a visiting scientist) will be returning to California after a long visit between here (although he left here to go to Africa for bit).  There were seven of us at this farewell dinner.  Michael enjoys fine wines, so he shared some of his favorites from this region with us.  We started with a Riesling from the Domäne Wachau winery, one of the vineyards in the Vienna Wachau region.  Michael says it is one of the less expensive wineries of the region, but it can compete with the wineries that are more expensive.  The next two wines were also from Domäne Wachau, a Grüner Veltliner and a sparkling Riesling.  Then, we ate a feast: Salmon, Couscous, and Veggies.  It was delicious.  We also had yet another wine, this time from the Santa Cruz area.  Ridge Home or something like that.  Michael bought the bottle in Dubai on his way back from Africa, and said the cost there is at least one fourth the price you would pay for the 2001 bottle in California.  The final wine of our evening was another Grüner Veltliner, but this one was very sweet, so it made a good dessert wine.  I’m not sure where it was from, other than some place in Austria.  It was a nice evening.

Phillies

October 23 2009

So, I woke up this morning to the following message from Jersey Frank to Brian and me: “I don’t think either two of you were there but Jessie was asking me why the Mets and the Yankees have the same “NY” logo on their hats. Maybe she’ll ask why the Mets are in the World Series. Britt, it’s a good thing you and Dave are far apart for the WS so you can’t rip each other apart. Oh, and btw, nice Eagles loss to the Saints!”  It made me laugh, although I did not appreciate the last comment he made.

Phillies are going to the world series again!  This time, not only am I in a different state … I am in a different country.  Well … I will follow online and sacrifice some sleep.

In the past week, I have been preparing for the visitors I will have in November & December.  First, I put a deposit down for an apartment near the Naschmarkt.  Here is a look at the apartment that I move into in November.  It is small, but it is in Vienna and has room to sleep 5.  Ma, Pa, and Natalie will be my first visitors there.  They move in the day that I move in (which is also the day we get back from Budapest).  I also purchased tickets for Natalie, ma, pa, and me to go to Tanz der Vampire (a musical).  And, finally .. I booked flights and hotels/hostels for Dave, Catie and me so we can celebrate New Years in Amsterdam!  I think I am broke now.

Soccer

October 22 2009
defending the goal

defending the goal

Yesterday afternoon was our last intra-ISTA soccer game.  The weather is getting too cold, and it is getting dark too early (around 6:30).  Here are a couple of pictures from our game.  Pictures were taken as we played yesterday so they can be used to convince potential students how much fun we have here.

On Saturday, we had another lacrosse game.  Karine played with us.  It was her 2nd day playing lacrosse … and she played in the game!  She is learning quickly.  It was a friendly match against Gottingham, Germany.  The girls drove down on Friday night (about 11 hours), and Saturday morning we had a joint practice.  It was fun to get to know them.  They were all very nice, and excited to be playing with us.  I was a ref for the Gottingham-Monarchs game, and then the men’s teams played.  Then, we played our game.  As usual, our team played excellently (in the second half).  But, we lost the game.  However, it was fun, and it was a good game.

Sunday afternoon, we left for Soboth (just south of Gratz), where Walter (prof from TU) has a house.  We stayed “in town” which consisted of 2 gahsthouses and a church.  When we arrived in Soboth, a fine dusting of snow had just passed.  So, the entire town appeared sugar-coated.  During this workshop, I got a better idea about how they use the Pyramids.  Herbert, Amit and Paul gave a series of related talks leading up to their current research on Well groups.  A couple other talks by TU students were also given.  The food was really good (with lunch being much larger than dinner of course), and we learned all about the Schilcher wine, a wine exclusively made in Steiermark.  It is a rose wine.  We tried three different ones, each one distinct in color, aroma, and taste.  We also took a walk to Carinthia!

kicking the ball

kicking the ball

Going to Soboth

October 18 2009

Shortly, we will be leaving to go to Soboth for two days.  We’ll be staying at Gemeindeamt Soboth.  Herbert will be driving Chao, Amit, Paul, and Me.  Well … we are leaving now!

PS- As we speak, I am uploading pictures from the Klosterneuburg wine festival onto Picasa.

Dancing

October 16 2009

Last week, Amit and I decided to learn the Vienese Waltz.  So, we signed up for a 1-hour dance class.  We were a bit over our heads as the class began with a demonstration of our skills: we were able to stand in the begining pose, as the rest of the class danced and spun around us.  Anyway, we got the basics down by the end of the hour, although we do need some practice!  Hopefully we will be ready to debut our skills at a ball in November.

On another note, I found a nap room today.  ISTA has nap rooms!  One for men and one for women.  This may be the greatest (or worst) discovery.  The room has a bed, a TV, and a shower.   What more could you want from a nap room near your office?

Snow

October 15 2009

Just last weekend, I was thinking how pretty Austria is in the fall.  We were driving to München for the lacrosse tournament, and the leaves on the trees were a spectacular sight: the edges were gold, but the rest of the leaf was a bright green.  At points,, it was raining.  But, when it wasn’t raining, there was just enough fog to make the landscape look like a painted picture.  The weather last week was amazing too: 25 celcius!  When I heard that it would snow this week, I didn’t quite believe it..  But, the temperature dropped suddenly yesterday.  During lacrosse practice, I kept on my hat, gloves, and jacket!  Last night, I could barely sleep from the howling winds outside (and the plastic covering the windows flapping in the wind).   I looked out the window, but saw nothing in the pitch black abyss.  When I woke up this morning, there were flurries outside.  Now, it is actually snowing, although it is not accumulating since the ground is wet.

Lacrosse

October 14 2009

WordPress gives “blog stats” and one of the recent things that I found was someone search for “brittany’s blog austria” on a search engine to find my blog.  I think that is awesome.  Of course, I tried searching that phrase and my blog does appear (although it is not the first website).

More exciting news: I might see the first bit of snow this week!

getting a ground ball

getting a ground ball

And finally, I am on the Austria National Lacrosse team.  I also played in the Austria Lacrosse League championship games for the Vienna Cherokees.  We won against the Vienna Monarchs, but lost against Graz.  The national team is mostly from the Cherokees, with a few players from the Monarchs and Graz.

My first two games as a national lax player were last weekend  in Munich.  We won one game (against Munich), but we lost the second game.  I scored three goals and caught two interceptions in these games!  On Saturday, we play another game in Vienna.  We also have a lacrosse party on Friday (the day before the game …poor planning).

Also, if I thought it was tough being in NC during the NL championship and World series last year, it is much worse this year. (And yes, last year I had to fight to get volleyball off the TV to watch the 2nd to last World Series game). The games happen while I am sleeping!  I could completely alter my sleep schedule, but I don’t think that would be a good idea.  So, please everyone cheer for the Phils!

Finally, an Update!

October 12 2009

I have photos on my computer (which is now in my apartment).  I just need to remember to bring it up here so they can upload online.

Darrell’s visit was very fun.  He arrived on Friday (25 September) late at night.  We hung out in my apartment that evening.  Then, woke up early fur a full day of sightseeing in Vienna.  Bei and Karine joined us for this excursion.  Of course, we saw St. Stefan’s church, Hunderwasserhaus, and ate lunch at the Naschmarkt.  We even saw a few things that I haven’t seen prior to his visit: the nail stubbed stump on Stefansplatz, and these large intimidating concrete buildings built during WWII.  The walls are three meters thick!  It is a little eerie being around them.  Bei and I had two different books, mine a couple of years old.  (I had to draw in parts of the UBahn system that I didn’t know existed before).  So, we were trying to go to this one building that was said to have no particular architectural appeal … but it was in both of our books, and near where we were.  So, we decided to go there.  I navigated us there, but Bei was saying the whole way that I was going to the wrong direction.  When we arrived, she refused to believe that the plain concrete building was what we were supposed to arrive at (the building is currently one of the embassys).  So, still in disbelief, she walked us around the block only to come to the conclusions “this isn’t right”.

When our day was over (around the time Paul and Amit called saying that they were starving), we headed back to Klosterneuburg to meet them at a Heurigen for dinner.  This bus ride must have been the funniest part of the day.  Bei was intently trying to figure out a puzzle that I bought for Dave.  And while she was doing this, a crazy gypsie woman started to talk to her saying “All of the men in China are waiting for you” and “You are the princess of the streets of China” and “Do you want a lolli?”  Meanwhile, Bei was telling me “you know, giving this to Dave is going to put a dent in your relationship”

On Sunday, Darrel found a fire station and we took our pictures with one of the firefighters!  (The other firefighter was making fun of him).  Then, we ate lunch at a Biergarten, where I made Darrell have wiener schnitzel and sturm.  Then, Darrell had to leave to head to Rome and I went to my first lacrosse practice.

I’ve got to go now.  Something about doing my work.  I’m glad Darrell came to visit, it was very fun!  And, I can’t wait for my next visitors: the Sorokas!!!