Finding joy amongst books

It was a Thursday and I had woken up with anxiety. That’s the worse kind I think. Often I have a really great day and find myself feeling really down at the end of it, but this was not one of those days.

I hardly ever get homesick now. I think going to university and then my five months in Canada has hardened me in that respect. My parents have always been wonderful in the sense that they encourage me to get out there and explore the world, but occasionally I have the urge to go ‘home’ (I say that in inverted commas because home to me will always be wherever the people are, not necessarily places). I don’t want to leave here, but I would just love to be able to pop over to my parents’ for dinner or go for a drink with friends from school or university every once in a while and not being able to can occasionally trigger a spell of feeling pretty down about life.

This particular day, all these thoughts had kicked in and I felt lonely. I lay there for a while not particularly wanting to get out of bed, but also hating myself for doing so at the same time. So eventually persuading myself to get out from under the covers, I tried to plan out what I could do with my day. However, trying to come up with any ideas whilst still stuck in pyjamas is impossible. It’s like when you’re not sure how an outfit looks and you try on various options, just getting more and more annoyed and the pile of clothes on the floor is just getting bigger and bigger. Yet, when you put on a bit of makeup and do your hair, somehow that original outfit option you had doesn’t look so bad after all. (Does this happen to anyone else?!) It’s the same for me when it comes to making plans whilst still not in a good head space.

So, I showered, put on a bit of makeup, got dressed and made my bed – which I found to be a brilliant way of tackling morning stress. If I make the bed, then I feel much more organised for some reason and it’s now become a ritual that I can’t leave the house without doing.

When I was finally ready to leave, I walked out of the house and got on the tram with no idea or intention as to where I was going. Then, when I got off at the main station and had bought myself a coffee, I started to think about what I could realistically do in the time that I had. I remembered that the little charity shop for an English speaking church in Vienna was not too far away, so I hopped on another tram to get to it.

Well, I’m honestly going to refer to it as my new safe haven from now on. I must have spent at least half an hour in there just staring at shelves. The rest of the time I found myself listening into people’s conversations. I know you shouldn’t but everyone sounded so happy and I started to feel better just being around them. When I went to pay for the pile of books I had collected, the lady at the counter looked at me and said; “You’ve been in here before haven’t you?” to which I told her that yes I had, but only once.

She smiled at me and said; “Ah yes, I remember. You were the girl that came in and you had only been here a few months. How are you doing?”

What this wonderful lady did not realise was in that moment she completely turned my day around. I was so happy that she remembered me and asked how I was. I told her that I was doing okay and was much more settled in Vienna now.

From this, I learnt that the simple question of ‘how are you?’ can make it feel as if somebody cares or has noticed you. To someone who is suffering, knowing this might be the first step towards feeling better (even if it is just a little bit.)

In that morning of misery, I thought I was going be stuck inside all day. Yet all it took to make it better was an unplanned adventure, complete with a new stack of books and a person with a kind heart that asked me how I was doing. I may not know loads of people here (yet!), but I do know that there are some wonderful people in this city. *Raises mug of tea pretending it’s champagne* Here’s to finding more of them!

Oh and to any English speaker like me, living in Vienna (or even if you’re on vacation here and need some more holiday reading) I really recommend this little shop. It’s the charity shop for Christ Church, the Anglican/Episcopal Church in Vienna and the people inside are incredibly friendly. Not only that, but books are 1EUR each, which for anybody that has just moved here, or doesn’t want to spend a fortune on brand new books at a bookstore, it’s a brilliant place to stock up. 

It is on Salesianergasse 20. Details regarding opening hours and how to contact them can be found on their website under ‘Parish Life.’  

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