So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog

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Adding Insult to Injury


I’m sure dear reader, you are all agog to hear the continuing saga of how to be out of work in Austria, so here’s the next installment. We’re having this ridiculously hot summer which makes me feel quite ill, so am glad I’m not working out in the heat!

I waited for nearly two weeks to get my leaving contract and feedback from Ibis acam, and there was nothing. Being in a frail state of mind over the whole thing, I was permanently checking the mobile and then being pleased there was no call.  In the end , I did have to send an email, because I needed stuff for the AMS. I said what’s going on, where’s the promised feedback, told the boss how his prevarication hadn’t helped the situation and how the whole thing had ended up a nightmare for me.

This finally got a response, I was no longer Anna, but Frau Rashbrook so I got it straight away.  It seemed that the majority of feedback forms were ok, but most said that my German wasn’t good enough to explain things about English.  It was a relief to know one way or the other.  I guess I’m not meant or gifted to be a teacher and I’m walking away.  No more teaching English. Riding I can do, but that door is closed.

So I’m thoroughly enjoying time at home, doing some decorating, pottering in the garden, writing a lot, and trying to hear what God has to say to me and not trying to sort this out by myself. Dave and I have both had pictures and bible readings to do with doors, which gives us hope.

I’m also struggling with the self pity and as usual, retreating into a private shell at home which suits me fine. BUT just to  make things better, the effect of my hormonal injection I had after the hysterectomy has just worn off = random excuses to burst into tears – yesterday it was the sight of the tin of birthday cake candles that triggered it and I never know what will be next.  I’m also getting occasional bouts of  nausea like being pregnant.  I must let my body sort itself out, but how long I can stand this insult I can’t imagine!

Dave is having work experience (at his age!) with a firm of gardeners and maybe something may come of it.  I expect I’ll have to take a winter job in a Hotel, but quite honestly, if we don’t find work, we may have to return to the UK, where there is no language barrier to fall over. Would it be better?  I have already realised how the Health care is worse in the UK, I’d miss the snow, but I really don’t know what is next.

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Teaching, what now?


I’ve needed to write about this to get it all out of my system and get some perspective. Its also written out of exhaustion and by the time you read this, I will have bounced backed, prayed things through and come to some sort of resolution!   I always find writing things out helps with closure on things. I’d really like some feedback too!

Naturally, after the course I did have a lot of self-pity to wallow in but you can only let that run so far.  As is my usual thing, I’m now into looking at what I’ve done, the mistakes and how to carry on. Did I in the first place get it completely wrong and shouldn’t have taken the course?  There’d been so much in my life recently that showed I was on the right track repeating what we did when we first came here. I had  once again the horses and teaching a bit of English etc, so  I felt that this  course was a logical step. That the job was still advertised after the wedding and my operation was like a sign. But I’m not a trained classroom teacher. I worked for six years as a teacher, on a stable yard, in the care home and a little in the formal setting.  I have an NVQ assessors qualification. Had my arrogance let me believe I could do such a thing? I’d been glad that Andrea had done the hard slog and I had the easier consolidation to do.For the next course, I’d have the summer to fully prepare.  Naturally, taking over a course halfway isn’t easy, Andrea was their Saint, and I could do nothing right. Even Hilda said the group was difficult.

Maybe I should have worked harder on my German over the years, I know I make mistakes all the time and people do misunderstand me.

Maybe I should have heeded that small voice of doubt.

I don’t deal  well with hostility, and added to that in a second language, what chance would I have to understand a furious rant? I’d rather be on my own than dealing with difficult people!  I could have done more for  Daniela, but I’d been so rebuffed, I took the easy option and left her alone.  Maybe without the horses, I can’t teach.  But I feel that door’s closing for me – maybe the small amount of riding therapy work we did is something, but its not enough. I’ve been too long away from horses and my nerves are coming back.

Right now, I never want to teach again.  I can’t do it, my German is obviously not adequate and I can’t handle hostility. Do I tell the boss before he sacks me? I have no confidence in myself anymore as a teacher. It would take a huge incentive to make me take the further course in October.

What does this leave for our future here in Austria? I’m so tired of coping in a second language, and Dave finds it harder than I. I want to be where I can understand and be understood.  England seems such a comforting place to be – greener grass syndrome of course. But we only have the capital in the flat and that’s not enough to buy and move back to the UK. Added to that, Dave doesn’t want to go back. But we have to work, we cannot claim the dole forever here. Quite honestly, I’ve run out of options. It’ll be back to cleaning.

What is God saying to us on this? We’re still certain he sent us here.  And he does sometimes use negative situations to speak to us.  But whatever he’s saying, I get the feeling I’ll always be getting it wrong, or not hearing properly. I’m at the end of me, yet again. I keep on getting back to this point.  I know I have to trust and recommit myself to him. We’ve been praying for so long for a breakthrough, that we’ll somehow have enough to run a small B&B and live off this. But the doors close all the time on that, we cannot buy next door and extend.  Has this country beaten me?

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Teaching – the last day


I needed an extra caffeine dose that morning, but off I went. I thought the worst was over.  I gave the tests back and said how clever they all were,only to find I’d written a mark wrongly and had to regrade, Andrea wasn’t even pleased I’d put her up a band.  Then Hilda burst in and I got tough for once and said hang on, I’ll be with you in a minute.  I’d noticed that they always perked up with her enthusiasm – and no doubt better German!!!!!  Then the  lady from the Jobseekersoffice  arrived (AMS) so when she got to the how was the course I left the room.  I managed over the next hour to take students out for their reports and on the whole they were happy – or maybe accepting. One of the ladies was really nice to me about you know who. Some were really over qualified for the course. So of course Hilda bursts in again and interrupts, doing her speciality which is  positive thinking and personality stuff, great but this wasn’t the time for it.  I was beginning to resent her interference. So I asked her to do this outside while I finished.  I popped the unsigned reports to Daniela and Andrea, to fond we must have forgotten to alter them in yesterday.  So more sh)(&t and off to re-write. I gave one certificate to a lady who was leaving early, but she said too there was a mistake – I’d thought they were all ok.  Hilda had said great and given them to me to print, my faith in my own ability to read and write German having long disappeared.  Then the Boss rang, they needed a survey on what the students were now looking for jobwise, so he asked Hilda to do it not me.  I was really past caring by then and finished the certificates and reports. At last all was finished.   Hilda went. She’d said to me that the group had wanted  to say something to me earlier – and I fully admit I thought I might get a card but they were now all sitting around with faces like Daniela’s – sour stewed prunes.  I’ve no idea what had happened. So I gave out the certificates, said how well they’d all done.  I was stumped, should I have sung and danced and clapped? I made some bad jokes about how we sometimes put all our certs on the loo wall in my family. Then I asked where we were going to ‘Fiern’ not exactly celebrate, but we’d said earlier we’d all go to a cafe. Then I got, I need to collect my kid, the car etc.  So I said Ok, lets all go home and Good bye. Thank you.  I was so devastated I didn’t know what to do.  Maybe I had done something wrong culturally, I have no idea. I wasn’t expecting  a bunch of flowers but a small thanks would have been nice.  They’d given Andrea slippers and Chocolates when she left. I know this is all childish, but maybe I was looking for some affirmation.  I sat in the office, just numb, I looked out of the window and they were all outside smoking.  I hid until they had all gone, then went home feeling totally crushed.

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Teaching – the last week


I knew that the last week would be hard,  but not as bad as it worked out. We’d been revising and all seemed to  go well.  They knew there would be a test.  Then I sprang on them a visit from some other English people where they would have to talk in English – thanks so much Maria and Karen!!!!!  So when Maria talked to Daniela, she got the I don’t understand you, I don’t speak any English. To which  Maria quite rightly replied, so why are you here?  Major strop out the room. After all Daniela had been sitting for eight weeks and apparently learning, she had taken part in some group work and was able to make simple sentences. She was completely fixed in her opinion and wasn’t going to change it.

So it went downhill. This was my first course, and I’d found the certificates and had prepared them. I was also told that I had to prepare reports, but I didn’t get the forms until Tuesday, and the course would finish on Thursday. So I did what I could, writing in English and German  as best I could.  On Wednesday when they were doing the test, Hilda the other worker from the company came in to help me – so I was getting support if a bit last minute.  I was then told I had to read these reports through with each student. So Hilda scrubbed all I’d written, and re-wrote everything.  She didn’t like what I’d put on the certificates so insisted on sending them to a friend for the German to be checked. What could I do?  I was bamboozled by the extra German I was unfamiliar with and Hilda was in charge.

So we did the chats.  Daniela was first, and I let Hilda do it. Explosion.  She claimed everything was my fault for being such a bad teacher, Andrea was soo perfect (that’s not what Andrea told me), how Daniela was on the wrong course (maybe so) , how she hadn’t learnt anything.  I said I’d tried to help her and include her on elements that she could as a real beginner understand. Of course this was dismissed and off she stropped.   The next candidate, Andrea  (the less able woman she’d been influencing) was almost as unhappy because I said she refused my help on the same grounds, but did admit she could be stubborn. I went home like a piece of chewed rag.  I had a holiday house to clean, a husband being depressed, and  exams to mark. Still I sat and marked slowly and carefully and went early to bed!

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After I took over from Andrea, I found I had a lot of preparing and catching up to do.  They had done  all the grammar they needed, but I thought maybe they could do a little on the past tense. We then spent a lot of time building vocabularies, doing a little basic Business English  and all the time trying to get them to talk. I know I can be a bit slapdash and realised this a couple of times when I’d missed a mistake on a sheet, or  hadn’t checked whether the words were too unfamiliar, but I slowed down and got more thorough. However, I felt strongly that they should do the work themselves rather than be spoonfed, that the group should support each other,especially with the language difference. I found the first couple of weeks really tiring but gradually got more energy.

Now every job I’ve had here has involved my ‘difficult Austrian’ such as Lois and Erna, and here I found I had one who was worse than all the others rolled together. She had come to do a beginners course, and felt this was too hard for her.  Andrea told me she had moaned and complained that she didn’t understand, it was all too hard for her, until in desperation Andrea had  given her a very basic book to work on by herself.  So when I took over, I got the same grief.  Everytime I tried to explain anything, it was ,’Your German is too poor,  I can’t understand you’.  I offered her extra time alone with me to work things through, after all there were 9 others in the group. This she refused as she’d had enough after 5 hours, God forbid that she gave up her smoking break!   So in desperation, I gave her my laptop and earphones so that she could work independently.   She was so hostile that I admit I took the lazy option and left her alone.  When she needed help she asked her neighbours who were patient and rarely me. One woman was very able and helped her, the other was one of the weaker ones, and seemed to join in with the  negativity.  I really considered splitting them all up, but that’s what you with kids isn’t it?  The trouble was that Daniela would be on her own agenda with jokes and sniggering, she even got in a hump when I asked her to be quiet as the others couldn’t hear, I got, why can’t we laugh together and she stropped off.  When I tried to explain something to the group it interfered.  When I was trying something I thought they had done (they hadn’t) she butted in with the, it’s all too hard, you can’t explain it .  She argued with me until in the end I dismissed the group and went home.  I spent a lot of time soul searching and decided to act the next day as if nothing had happened.  I fully prepared the grammar, and eventually went back to it. I said this is simple, had a sheet prepared explained it in English and German and gave them examples to do, which they all did successfully, except of course you know who. For the next couple of weeks, I thought I was doing ok, we worked hard and there was a lot of laughter.  Then came the last week……….

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Through the Wall!


I may just have talked a bit about me feeling that there is a wall about us here, especially this year with my operation and the trip to England to the wedding.  Now we’re though. Dave and I have been working things through a lot together, and this is how things are at the present.

I came back praying for more people in my life, feeling that in some ways, we live here in a desert.  And perhaps I lost my perspective on our bigger dream of the Retreat.  It came to a head when I was praying for Dave to have a job and he got really cross.  While he wouldn’t want to be written off workwise in his tender years, he wants the Retreat perhaps even more than I do!  I wanted people.  I applied again for the job teaching English, and like when I began teaching riding, I will really need God’s help in this one.  I surprisingly got a phonecall interview and a real interview, and may start one Monday!  BUT, the AMS or national job centre must clear my qualifications.  If these are no good, then no job.  Holy Spirit pointed out to me how often I’ll be doing something, such as waiting for riders for a lesson, and I’ll be hoping that they don’ turn up so I can go home. I’m even hoping that the AMS will say no.  I’ve christened this my lazy negative bug and am ignoring it! If I do ok, then there is another course in October, so I’ll have a summer at home (what hardship!).  The only worrying thing is that I’ll be taking over halfway through this course, the lady is leaving, ostensibly to go on holiday and not coming back – God’s provision while I was off sick?

So back to the Retreat.  I pray and try to imagine the people in our spare room as I can’t yet visualise the guests in the flat.  I bang on the door of my un-hearing, I rebuke anything that is blocking all this coming to pass in the name of Jesus.  I pray for my husband’s breakthrough (I hate that term but can’t off hand think of a better).  The picture I see is of me working while Dave does the physical work, a good lesson for me not to interfere!  One prayer I made, was that Mr G who owns the flat next door would turn up and we could talk to him, not sure if it was ok to pray so.  He turned up the next day!  I was like a cat on a hot tin roof, Dave met him in the yard and we asked him in for tea.  We said we were interested in buying, but he told us that flat has already been given to his son to stop the Health service here make him sell it for Care costs if need be.  Darn!  But Dave and I were surprisingly upbeat, feelings seeds have been sown.  We wouldn’t want to manipulate things or God, but felt led to speak.  So we’re now planning to put a small shower room in our spare room, so we can start off small.  Dave prays daily for finances to arrive, I don’t, I try to see the end product.  Both sides of the same coin?