1. The new baby is here! She was born around 4AM on February 6th. The parents called me at about 2AM to come over and get the baby monitor in case Anna woke up in the night. Nina Victoria was born about two hours later! It was really as smooth as possible. I haven’t met her yet, but we are all going to the hospital tomorrow morning. Doris wanted to spend the first day or so with just immediate family. Unlike in the US, women here in Austria usually stay in the hospital for about four days after birth (if there are so issues). So, she still has a couple of days to rest and receive visitors.
2. My host family bought a moped for me to use! I am so excited about riding it to the train station, Wels, or to the surrounding villages. It will give me so much more freedom and flexibility. But it’s going to be a while before I’m zipping through the countryside. Here’s the truth: I’m not a very coordinated person, I didn’t learn to ride a bike as a child, and I’ve never ridden anything with a hand brake. I also tend to panic. (Learning to drive a car was one of the hardest and most stressful things I’ve ever done.) For the record, admitting these things publicly is a huge step forward in my development as a human being. It may sound silly, but I’m facing some deep-rooted fears here. I’m starting with the bicycle, and once I really get a good sense of control and hand braking, then we’ll see about the moped. My “host dad,” Roland, has been super about this, by the way, so encouraging and kind. Today, I rode the bike for half an hour, and only fell into the mud three times. So yeah, I have a long way to go, but I’m not going to give up!
3. I’ve now been in Europe for three months. What? I’ve traveled to London, Rome, Linz, Vienna, Budapest, Nuremberg, Salzburg, Berlin, Graz, and Innsbruck. Future trips in the next few months include Munich, Amsterdam, and Venice! My receptive German (listening and reading) have gone through the roof. I can usually understand what’s being asked of me, unless it’s in a strong dialect, and I can read most normal print materials–articles, emails, instructions, etc. My spoken German is coming along more slowly, but I feel like I’ve conquered something every time I have a conversation with someone. I’ve fallen into a routine here, I’m starting to make friends, and I’m developing a sense of “home.” Alles geht gut.