Findings from the difference between Austria and Japan
My short stay in St.Poelten was substantial owing to the city staff, host families, and teachers of St.Poelten music school. I had 5 lessons a week (including two flute private lessons, one flute ensemble lesson, one piano lesson, and one singing lesson), and learned some methods which I have not tried before, and thought why I need those exercises. Especially, the singing lesson was impressive for me, in which I drew some pictures on a big sheet of paper and tore a news paper while singing to have an image of music and relax. In the piano lesson, I started to practice the nocturne composed by Chopin because this year is the two hundredth year anniversary of his birth, and Mrs.Ott recommended me to play one of his pieces. In the flute lesson, I focused on basics, and could change my quality of sound. I think I could learn more than what I can normally learn in a month.
What I felt the most different was eating habits. It was typical to eat bread with some kinds of cheese and ham for any time of the day. There was sometimes no clear distinction between lunch and dinner because pupils ate at school during the breaks, and ate at home whenever they got hungry. At supermarkets, they sell a chunk of ham, a block of cheese, and a loaf of bread, and every household has a slicer for them. I was very surprised that Austrian typical food is very similar to Japanese typical food though the distance between the countries is quite far. I tasted Schnitzel (pork cutlet) which is similar to Tonkatsu and Knodel which is similar to Nikuman. I also drank 100% juice, thinning with water or soda water. The alcohol drinking age is 16 in Austria, and the regulation of driving after drinking is not as strict as it is in Japan, so everyone over 16 drinks at parties. Teenagers like to go out to a pub or a bar on Friday night. One day, Stephan took me to a semester opening party, and it was a bit too loud and flashing for me. My first host family have lived in Japan for 6 years, and my second host mother is quarter Japanese, so they were all interested in Japanese culture. Most of the people around my host families like Japanese food or have been to Japan before, so they asked me many questions. Some of them even studies Japanese way of acupressure, and know well about Japanese literature, comics, video game machines, and IT industry. I thought the world became so small that we can get and know anything from other countries without travelling. When I cooked Japanese dishes called Okonomiyaki and Shiratama dango, my host family enjoyed the meal. Both of my host families went to bed early (the latest was about 11 o’clock), and got up early. They told me people in Vienna stay up until late because they go out, and they have the underground trains until the midnight. Compared to Vienna, St.Poelten is silent, and people tend to go to bed early, they said. In my first host family all of three children learn how to play musical instruments at music school; Julia plays the piano, Katharina plays the flute, and Lukas plays the drums. Although 3 children of 4 children in my second host family have already left home, they played the saxophone, piano, guitar, and violin respectively. In Japan, taking a lesson to learn how to play instruments is special to some people, and seems very strict, but it was familiar to people in St.Poelten. My singing teacher was Korean, and she also told me that Asian pupils tend to grasp music too seriously, and be pushed for practice, but what is really important is that you enjoy playing, and feel free and comfortable. I will try not to forget this feeling even when I go back to my university life.
I thank everyone who arranged my stay and took care of me in St.Poelten because I feel it was both long and short. I could learn a lot, but the time passed so quickly. I am also satisfied to be able to tell people about me, Kurashiki, and Japan. They are looking forward to see cherry blossoms full in bloom now, so I will send them a photo... and keep in touch with them from now on.