Home Austria It’s a Learning Curve

It’s a Learning Curve

by William White

I look in the mirror and take-in my slightly frazzled, orangish-red morning hair style. Once again, the time has come to get a haircut. The sides have begun to curl and my bangs are hovering just above my eyes. A good haircut keeps my head looking not-so-egg-shaped and allows me to look closer to my age (which according to the Austrian bars is right around 15) But getting a haircut in Austria is going to be like switching from normal to hard mode. It’s hard enough to get a haircut to my liking when I can speak the language. But everyone in Salzburg speaks English, right?

I set off on my journey on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. To be entirely honest, I had no idea where I was going. I was searching randomly for a place that would give me a quality haircut for a low price, but also not look like they will try to pierce my belly-button or sell me moderately price flood insurance. I started wandering through Salzburg. I got really good at finding closed hair salons (I think I found three). After many turns and what seemed like a fortnight, I found a hair salon; a small building on the corner which I would have overlooked if it didn’t have “HAIRSTYLE” written on the side. The salon was run by an older woman, probably in her 50s or 60s, who cleary had a passion for cutting hair. The most challenging part was that she spoke no English at all, forcing me to use what I had learning in class in order to communicate.

The language barrier didn’t stop either of us. I think I asked for a short haircut but I think that’s just what she was planning anyway. It turned out great regardless of what I asked for. She began to cut my hair and carried on like she would with all her normal customers. She asked me about my life. I told her I was a student from America studying at Universität Salzburg. I told her about my siblings, my classes, and where I wanted to travel. Every question and answer took a bit longer based on my broken German, but she was patient and excited to hear every response. I even picked up some interesting facts about her life. She learned to cut hair in Flint, Michigan. Her teacher had a tattoo of a butterfly on her stomach. All the meat that she was served in America was to large and she got full quickly. The McDonalds is better in America but she said I was lucky to be here because the women are thinner and nicer opposed to some women she met in America. Overall, a great experience, a fantastic haircut, and even a new acquaintance in Salzburg. She even invited me back for another haircut at the end of the semester.

Experiences like this are what I like to call the learning curve. It has taken some time to find what works, but through trial and error, I have found things that work, and occasionally things that don’t. From my experiences, I now know not to walk near the buses when it’s raining and which cheeses smell like a locker room. I know all the shortcuts through the old town, but not before I did some serious searching. I have gotten really good at going on runs and getting lost. But, I have gotten even better at running faster when I’m lost and finding an entirely new route.

Life for me in a foreign country is about living in the moment. Its about making decisions on the spot in order to have a fantastic time. Sometimes they work out while other times they don’t. Great stories are not always made by planning to do something next weekend. Sometimes they consist of catching the next bus, finding a mountain, and getting lost. An adventure is always out there, the challenge is finding it.

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