KC: Vienna Muses
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Vienna, etc.
I am originally a steel town girl — born and raised in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, PA — and first came to Vienna during a semester abroad in college. Once I finished my BA, I moved to Vienna and have been living here now for over 15 years. I am a writer (historical fiction and international thriller romances) and a German-English translator.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging about Vienna over two years ago as part of my writer’s website because I love the city and blogging gives me a great excuse to get out and do things and share them with others.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours? Please add the URL link as well.
- 18 Tell-tale Signs Your Guy’s Really a Krampus
- Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts to Rock Me Amadeus
- Celebrating Life in “The Garden of Earthly Delights” at Vienna’s 2014 Lifeball
- Trust No one — Vienna, the Spy Capital
Tell us about the ways your new life in Vienna differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I’ve lived here for a while so it’s hard to recapture the initial first experience. There’s the saying “Aller Anfang ist schwer” (every beginning is difficult) and I think that’s true for anything. I did, however, post, about things I now get that I didn’t in the beginning and things I’ll probably never understand no matter how long I’m here.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Vienna? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I don’t think I was fully prepared and thank goodness I wasn’t. Life would be pretty boring if we always knew what to expect. We learn from our challenges and so I wouldn’t want to go back and change anything.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
My first Vienna apartment: The kitchen had black tiles and red counter tops that could have easily provoked Julia Child to hurl a schnitzel hammer or two. But the narrow alley of the walk-thru kitchen permitted speedy clean-ups. A multitasker’s dream, the placement of the shower next to the stove enabled simultaneous rinsing of oneself and the sauerkraut. Vienna gave the term “toilet buddy” from elementary school a whole new meaning. Located in the corridor of the apartment building was our toilet closet (as opposed to a bathroom) shared with the Hausmeisterin in dwelling 10. While venting the fumes that lingered from our chain-smoking toilet buddy, a permanently open window set high in the corner also guaranteed that temperatures never reached above freezing in winter.
Hundertwasser once said, “One has to feel at home in art.” Playfully watching one’s breath crystallize, attentively listening for the pit-pat of neighbors’ feet passing the WC’s door in the apartment building corridor, one longed to feel at home on the toilet.
I knew at the time that in America, my friends would be experiencing their own post-graduate woes sifting through leaflets of apartments and condos with everything from whirlpools to self-cleaning ovens. In Vienna, I would have been happy with modern heating and my own toilet.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Vienna?
- Be open-minded
- Be the first to smile
- Have always a Euro coin in your pocket for the grocery cart.
How is the expat community in Vienna? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expat community is very diverse and newcomers should not have trouble finding like-minded people or fellow expats. The challenge will probably be connecting with the locals. To do this, have a child and go to the playgrounds, get a dog and go for a walk, or do sports and join a team. You won’t regret widening your social circle; it will improve your German and make Vienna a home rather than a place where you happen to be living at the moment.
How would you summarize your expat life in Vienna in a single, catchy sentence?
Vienna has thousands of faces, and now, one of those is mine.