A one-day exchange with the Sprachenhauptschule Birkfeld, Austria

by Janja Polajnar
together with students Maša Čelan,
Karmen Košutar, Nuša Lovišček

Janja Polajnar, Slovenia and Wolfgang Pojer, Austria

It was Monday, the 8th of May, and we - 2.d - went, actually drove, to Birkfeld, Austria. (We should have left Maribor at 7.30 am, but because of some problems we went at 9.00 am.) Our trip was nice and cool as always. Some of us slept, some sang songs like every time we go somewhere, which makes a lot of students angry, some listened to music and a lot of people studied Biology, because we were writing a test the day after. There were two teachers with us - Professor Janja Polajnar, our teacher for Slovenia in the World and professor Nataša Lešnik, our German teacher. David Greenwald, our native speaker of English from the USA was also with us.

Just a few words about Birkfeld. This village is about half an hour´s drive north of Graz. It is in the hills and all villages there are very modern. We saw that when we looked at the houses and environs. We liked this place, although a lot of our students would like so far away from city centre.

We arrived to Birkfeld 10.30. The bus stopped and when we walked down, we saw the headmaster, who was already waiting for us. The headmaster was very nice and friendly.

We had an exchange with students from the Sprachenhauptschule Birkfeld. So, the headmaster took us to the school. The school was very modern and we thought, quite new. It was really special from outside, but we could not wait to see it inside too. We were surprised when we walked inside. They can play table-tennis in school and everything is so wonderful, so new. The school is full of different art works which were made by students and full of prizes which the school had won. We did not have a lot of time for looking around.

Then we met with our hosts for a couple of hours. The students were two or three years younger than we are, but we did not mind. First of all their headmaster gave a short welcome speech. After that the students prepared a short program. They sang some typical traditional songs with and without concertina. It was good. They had nice voices. When they first sang for us, some younger kids sang with them. It was quite beautiful to see. Our host students prepared a presentation about Austria and things that we should know about it. They presented food, sports activities in winter and summer, music and important people. They showed us pictures too. It was interesting and we think that we learnt some new things.

Then came the moment for which we came. We conducted interviews with the Austrian students. The teachers put us in groups of five or six students and we asked them prepared questions. We wanted to know how their life is, so we asked about going out or taking drugs and problems about that. Then they had to tell us something about their future plans and family. Of course, we asked them if they had had any contacts with Slovenia before and what they knew already about our country. After that they interviewed us too and they just wanted to know some facts about Slovenia and our school system as it is very different from theirs.

Then we continued with our program. Špela Vogrinc, our student, tried to explain them how the same sounds are written differently in German and Slovene. She showed them this giving some examples of Slovene words, which they had to repeat. They did it very well. Then Aleksandra Šauperl, another of our students, did some exercises with them. They got a text in the German language with some words missing, but in brackets there were the Slovene words taken from German. They had to guess from which German word each word came. We thought that they liked this exercise.

(We were hungry already so we had to leave them.) Their English teacher and headmaster took us to a restaurant where we had lunch. We ate bread with different spreads (white, brown and greenJ). We got fried chicken with pumpking - seed coating and to drink we got water and apple juice. We got dessert too. (We liked the food, but it was not enough for us, so we had to buy ice-cream afterward.) Later, some of us wanted to play and when we came across a kind of playground, they played.

Ok, enough funny things. We drove on to see interesting things in this village and around it. First we went to the summer sleigh ride. It was so cool. We enjoyed it very much. The Austrian school paid for each of us to ride twice, and we were thrilled. We were here a long time because everyone wanted to ride again and again. We took some silly pictures here and we captured the whole trip on film. We really liked it very much. Oh … and we did have one problem, but it was not a big deal: THE WEATHER.

All good things must come to an end, so we went to see a map of places here before we went on. The headmaster showed us where we were and where we were going. The next station was a wind farm. Here we had recreation, or better, - »sport«. We had to go up the hill, unbelievable. Wind farms are common in places like this, because the wind is stronger here. With the wind's help, a windmill makes electricity for about 400 houses in the area. These giant propellers are very tall and weigh about 50 tones. When we looked up at them, we just prayed that they would not fall down and hurt us.

We had to hurry now, because we wanted to get home as soon as possible, because of the test the next day. But we had one last station before home. We went to the town Wiez and there we had 15 minutes to go for coffee or to the shops. Then, finally, we went and saw the only rotating solar house in Europe. This was interesting. The house does not need any electricity, because it makes it by itself from solar energy. It turns in a circle, following the sun all day. It can move up to about 20 centimeters per minute. It makes enough electricity for the whole year and what is left over is sold for three times the normal price. The house costs about 900,000 euro, and there are not a lot of people who could afford it. A family lived in this house whether living in such a house was much more different. You do not feel the circling so there is little difference between living here and living in a normal house.

So that was all for this day. We enjoyed it and the way home was not so long. I do not know what happened because I slept, but I believe that everyone around me had a wonderful time.

  • I liked it because we have learned some new things about Austria and of course Birfeld. Jana Vukobrat
  • We did not spend enough time with our Austrian counterparts. Rok Hržič
  • We have had a good time when we were driving with the summer sleigh. David Čuček
  • We had a good time, but were not anything special. Maja Medved
  • It was ok, but the people were too young. Katarina Kocbek
  • They were too shy. Kristina Pucko
  • They were not cool. (Not suppish - so cool that the person seems sleepy.) Miha Senica
The Slovenian group
Tandem A-SLO (Project description)
Report about the exchange
Slovenia meets Austria
Austria meets Slovenia
Society and Culture (project description)
The Maltese contributions
The Spanish contributions
The Romanian contributions
The Croatian contribution
Malta meets Spain