Kim: Leben Lieben
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Austria, etc.
I am a Physiotherapist, wife and mother from Missoula, Montana, USA. My husband took an educational leave from his University to work in Salzburg, Austria so my kiddo and I followed him, for our 4 month stay. We flew in to Sweden on January 28th to pick up our new Volvo which we drove down to Salzburg. May 23rd, we left Salzburg to drive to Italy, France and eventually back to Sweden to fly home June 8th.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
Initially, I just wanted to keep friends and family informed of our fun. Then, I realize d it was a way to keep a digital record for ourselves as well.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Oh, no I love them all, but perhaps the early one when we got our car?
Tell us about the ways your new life in Austria differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Yes, of course I had troubles. I wouldn’t call it culture shock as I don’t find Germanic culture to be all that different than ours. Mostly, ‘little things’ were difficult, especially with a 2 ½ year old in tow! I taught myself only a little German, and little things are quite different here, such as buying groceries. I didn’t know how to use the grocery carts and I couldn’t make sense of most of the labels. The traffic is horrible in Salzburg, but I love the public transportation. I am only now getting comfortable with the differences, just in time to leave! I still don’t like driving in Europe, however, people are impatient and the roads and parking spaces to narrow compared to what I am used to.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Austria? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
Yes, I was prepared except for the language barrier- I wish I would have taken more German language classes. Also, I wish I wouldn’t have been so nervous to use my German or speak to locals. A handful of times people were horribly rude to me after I asked (in German) if they understood English, or if I tried to order beer in German… Now, I don’t let it bother me, but it certainly did at first.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Most of my anecdotes revolve around having a toddler. In Lubeck, my husband and I were playing with our son by each taking one of his hands and swinging him after the count of “one, two, three.” After a couple of minutes, we realized a little boy was watching us and after we passed he started to yell excitedly out after us “One, Two Three! One Two Three!”
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Austria?
- If you are going to attempt to learn the language, insist that cashiers and servers at restaurants speak as much German as possible in order to at least learn the numbers. Don’t rely on their English, ask them to help you and they probably will. And always ask for a German menu along with the English so that you can learn the terms. I found myself always receiving English menus and then when I finally went to a restaurant without one, I didn’t understand it. Also, the translations are frequently off, so you just can’t trust the English menu.
- Also: Eingang means entrance and Ausgang/Ausfahrt means EXIT. You will walk or drive around for hours if you don’t learn this (see my “Lost in Ikea” post!)
- And, don’t even TRY to avoid gluten in this country!
How is the expat community in Austria? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I think I was here too short a time to have this trouble. I made some English speaking friends, and that was good enough for me.
How would you summarize your expat life in Austria in a single, catchy sentence? Um, I will try…
Austria, a spectacularly beautiful country where you never lack for a place to drink a beer, eat a sausage, or indulge in a chocolatey-nougatey-pistachio sphere, but don’t forget your umbrella.