#The Expat Tag

So when I was planning my list of possible new posts, I had planned on writing one as part of my “Has it been that long?” feature, a year after moving to Vienna, but if I am completely honest, these last two weeks back in Vienna after the ‘summer’ break have been beyond busy. (I say ‘summer’. Weather in the Scottish Highlands tends to have it’s own ideas about that.) With the first day back to school fast approaching (I work for an international school here), there has been so much to do that by the end of the day all I want to do is sleep. Speaking of sleep, I did not get around to putting sheets on my bed until two nights ago. My Mum would be horrified. Oh and speaking of my Mum, I’ll message you at some point Mama to let you know I’m alive!!

Whilst I wish I had managed to have the ‘one year on’ post actually published one year on, I didn’t want to rush it and just write anything.

So in the meantime, I found this fun expat tag on the ‘Going American‘ blog and thought I would give it a go. I’m interested to see what some of my fellow Vienna bloggers have to say to these questions. Anyone who wants to give it a go will find the questions at the bottom of this post which can simply be copied and pasted.

So here goes…

No. 1) Where were you born, where did you grow up and where do you currently live?

I was born in England where I lived until I was six and then moved to Germany for three years. After that I moved to Scotland where I lived until I was 21 and now live in Vienna.

No. 2) What made you leave your home country?      

I wanted to live somewhere new and so in my final year of university I applied for various jobs abroad. I now work for Amadeus International School (that specialises in arts and music) in Vienna.

N. 3) What type of reactions do you get when you meet new people and tell them where you are from?  

Urgh. The dreaded “Where are you from?” question and I’m sure other expats will relate to some degree. Do I go for where I was born, where I lived the longest or where I live now? No matter how I answer it there is usually some kind of follow up question/comment.

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But since living in Vienna and meeting other expats, it has actually been quite fun to hear their “Where are you from?” stories because everyone is in the same boat; “I’m ______, but I was actually born in ______ and now I live here.”                                                     In general though, most people I have met have either been to Scotland or want to visit, so when I tell people I’m Scottish, I usually end up chatting about their time there or giving suggestions for any future trip they might make. I’m always up for giving advice to anyone about to visit Edinburgh (aka my favourite city!)

No.4) What was the easiest part in adjusting to your new country?                                  

There are many answers I could give for this easily. Firstly, I love the cafe culture here. In the UK if I go into a cafe with a book/laptop with the intention of staying for some time, I find that after a while I get the impression the staff want me out. If I’m not continuously buying coffee, I have to leave. Here I do not get that same feeling. Plus, the coffee in Vienna is amazing. I was definitely a Starbucks coffee drinker when I moved here. Now, my go to order is always a Melange (with a glass of water on the side obviously!) Secondly, the transport system. With a city that has trams, busses, uBahns and trains, you would think, like someone visiting London for the first time, that you would spend ages figuring out how to get around. Yet, everything is clearly signposted and the maps are so easy to read that it takes barely a second to work out which stop you need to get off at or which line you need to take. Plus, being armed with the Qando app on your phone means that you can always find simple instructions of how to get anywhere. Lastly, the people. There is this stereotype about the Austrians that they are bad mannered and grumpy (I’ve definitely met a few on the uBahn), however in general the people of Vienna are incredibly kind and welcoming. Don’t get me wrong, many of the locals here have frowned upon firstly, my terrible lack of German and then secondly, my lack of the use of Austrian German. Yet, as a non-native speaker many people that I have met do not mind speaking English so that I understand. Although, it does annoy me when they say they speak ‘a little’ English and then turn out to be fluent. When people ask me if I speak German and I say I speak ‘ein bisschen’ I really mean ‘ein bisschen’. (Oh, and I am working on the language barrier. I had my first class yesterday!!)

No. 5) What was the hardest part in adjusting to your new country and are there any cultural norms that you just cannot stand?

I thought I would combine these two questions because the first answer that popped into my head fitted them both. SMOKING! Back in Scotland, the smoking ban was introduced in 2006 meaning that nobody was allowed to spoke indoors in any public spaces. Unfortunately this not true for Austria. Whilst many places do have separate smoking and non-smoking areas, I still cannot stand it, especially the places in which you have to walk through a smoking area to get to the smoke free zone.

No. 6) What is your favorite food or drink item in your new country?                  

Besides the Austrian coffee, my other favourite drink has to be a traditional Austrian Glühwein or punch at a Christkindlmarkt or Weihnachtsmarkt here in Vienna. You can’t walk around a Christmas Market without one and (provided you don’t want your two euro deposit back) you can also keep the mug, so I try to collect one from every market I go to. As for food, I love everything from Spaetzle to Schnitzel and Käsekrainer to Kaiserschmarrn.

No. 7) What’s the one thing you said “yes” to in your new city that you wouldn’t say “yes” to back home?                                                                                                                

Exercise. (I’ve got to burn off all that meat and potatoes somehow!) When I moved here I had just finished my final year of university in which I was under a lot of stress. The closest I got to exercise was the 20,000 steps I would do in a single shift whilst working as a waitress, but this was outweighed by an irregular meal schedule and often eating food that was quick and easy to prepare (or order for that matter!) So when I moved to Vienna, I wanted to take care of my body more and this had to come in the form of exercise. I now attend weekly exercise classes with Marta Nunes who keeps me on my toes and by the time I left Vienna for the summer break I really felt fitter and happier.

No. 8) What do you enjoy most doing in your new country? 

As obvious as it sounds, I love exploring! I have a list of the obvious touristy places in Vienna that I’m working my way through, but I’m also on the look out for Vienna’s best kept secrets when it comes to days out, coffee venues, public parks and restaurants. I have been in this city for around a year now, but I know that I have only explored the tip of the iceberg. Here’s to exploring even more this year. (Suggestions welcome)

No. 9) Are there any things you miss about your home country or wish you had in your new expat life? 

I’m an avid TV fan and the UK does some great dramas, so it drives me crazy that all these trailers for shows crop up all over my social media and I can’t access them. Catch up sites are unavailable outside of Britain and whilst the more regular series’ can be found on some of the less legit sites, when it comes to those one off dramas, with very few episodes that the BBC often commissions, the chances of finding those are extremely slim. You’d be more likely to find a grocery store open on a Sunday or vegetables served with your meat.

No. 10) Do you ever think you will return home for good? 

This is a bit of an odd question for me because there are so many places I could call home and to me, home is not a place. It’s a feeling. A feeling of comfort, of good memories and of family and friends. I now call Vienna ‘home’, but at the same time I still refer to my parents’ house as ‘home’ and any time I visit my Grandparents in the town I first lived in, that feels like ‘home’ too. I can’t imagine living in one house, or one town, or even one country for my whole life so no matter where I go, if I’m there long enough and start to get to know the place and the people, then it will become home to me too.

Lastly, as an added extra choose ten images that sum up or highlight your experience of expat life so far. (It was supposed to be five, but that was just too difficult!) 

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The first few days out exploring. The parliament building still ceases to amaze me and of course I couldn’t not include the trams!

 

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Experiencing an Austrian size beer for the first time. Okay I can’t lie, it was a Radler. 

 

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This was one of my favourite days in Vienna so far. At that time I shared a floor with staff and students of twelve different nationalities, who call Bulgaria, Russia, America, Ukraine, Belarus, China, England, Mexico, Japan, Albania, Korea and Slovakia their home. On this particular day however, we hauled the kitchen tables into the hallway, plugged in the Christmas lights, cracked open the alcohol free rosé (it’s still a school meal!) and ate like one big family. 

 

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Hot chocolates in the snow with my bestie. 

 

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The family’s first visit to Vienna since I moved out here. It was so much colder than this picture makes it out to be. 

 

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A win win situation: exploring Vienna and finding my favourite drink. 

 

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Finding moments of peace during the final few weeks before summer. 

 

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Volunteering with TEDx Vienna. An exhausting weekend, but this was a pretty cool moment on the stage of the Volkstheater. I’m just behind the female presenter. 

 

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Graduation day at Amadeus. Feeling very proud. 

 

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Starting year two with my new staff picture. 

 

Questions:

No. 1) Where were you born, where did you grow up and where do you currently live?

No. 2) What made you leave your home country?      

N. 3) What type of reactions do you get when you meet new people and tell them where you are from?  

 

No.4) What was the easiest part in adjusting to your new country?                                  

No. 5) What was the hardest part in adjusting to your new country and are there any cultural norms that you just cannot stand?

No. 6) What is your favorite food or drink item in your new country?                  

No. 7) What’s the one thing you said “yes” to in your new city that you wouldn’t say “yes” to back home?                                                                                                                

No. 8) What do you enjoy most doing in your new country? 

No. 9) Are there any things you miss about your home country or wish you had in your new expat life? 

No. 10) Do you ever think you will return home for good? 

Lastly, as an added extra choose five/ten images that sum up or highlight your experience of expat life so far. 

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