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Life

Villach is a small city (50-60,000 people), situated in the south of the southernmost Land in Austria (Carinthia). I enjoy the landscape - we're surrounded by mountains and a river passes through the center of the city. My favorite spot used to be this fountain in the middle of Villach which always gives really cold, clean water - perfect after Tae Kwon Do. I say used to be, because one day someone told me I shouldn't drink from it - rather there was another place close by with good water. Of course, he was speaking German so I don't really know what exactly he said. I never got sick...

Since Villach doesn't have too many people and it's mostly a destination for Austrian tourists, there aren't a lot of people who speak English, compared to bigger cities........

Land Carinthia is known for it's mountains and bathing lakes (most with drinking quality water) and general outdoor activities. I'm glad I came here rather than going to one of the bigger cities in Austria, because of all the mountains. In fact, of all the train travelling I've done from Italy to Amsterdam, I think the stretch through middle and lower Austria is the best - because you're either going through valleys or on the sides of mountains.

I have a small room in a big house belonging to the Egger family. I think they live on the top floor, and the grandparents rent out the middle floor to different people. The first floor holds a Chinese restaurant. The dad runs a small solar panel making company and used to be really into Tae Kwon Do (studying, when he was in college, with the grandmaster of the school I'm at now - he hooked me up). Despite this being a tourist area, there are no washing machines, so I wash clothes by hand. Some (as in all) of you that know me have interpreted this statement to mean I don't wash my clothes, but I really I do. Really. In fact, I've found out about many of those small things that I didn't really care to know, like the purpose of the second dent in clothespins. Oh, and you may notice the picture above shows a clean room - I took it the day I arrived.

Usually I get up around 7 or 8 and bike into work. On the way, I stop a Billa or SPAR (supermarkets) and pick a sandwich and drink for lunch - it's quite cheap this way and the deli will make you a sandwich, unlike in America. Yes, I worked in a deli before ("Make your own sandwich!" - just kidding). Well, I usually work until I have to go to Tae Kwon Do, then have dinner somewhere, depending on how much money I have. After that, I'll either go to the internet or go home and read. [Update: finally after 2 months I've found out how to live cheaply. I have an electric burner to cook pasta every day and I surf the internet at work (ha!).] After that, it's bedtime and I sleep for a good 8 hours (yes, each night). [Update: after 2 months, I'm still sleeping that much. How will I make it through next semester?] Anyways, strange things happen when you have no TV or computer in your room.

They do a different style of Tae Kwon Do here - the classic style - compared to what I'm used to - olympic style. The kicks are slightly different and there's no full contact sparring. I guess what's most different are how the practices are run - we learn by repetition. Every kick or bunch of moves we practice, we do anywhere from 50 to 200 times. And there's no water break, or any other kind of break. And prior to sparring at the end, you do every form that you know - so the black belts get quite a bit more of a workout than everyone else. I was sore for many days at the beginning, but it's not so bad now. Oh, and I forgot the knuckle-pushup jumps on the hardwood floor. I managed to only have two slightly bloody knuckles the whole summer. My toenail coming off is another story...

I guess since this section is titled "Life," you probably want to know about what life is like over here. Maybe I'll get into that some other time...