Silia: The Viennese Girl
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Vienna, etc.
I was born and raised in Athens but I feel that I belong to Samos more, a Greek island from where my mother comes from. I used to spend all my summer holidays in Samos, where my family has a summer house but on the summer 2011, it was time for me to change and do something different. I had already travelled very much and seen many places but had never come to Vienna before. My initial plan for the summer of 2011 was to spend 3 months in Vienna and go back to Greece on 31 August. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have this luxury to have holidays for 3 months! Don’t ask me how; it is part of the job as teachers! After 3 months in Vienna, I didn’t find the courage to pack my things, close the door, and take the airplane back to Athens. I announced to my parents that I will stay in Vienna, without knowing for how long, without having a specific plan. Vienna had occupied a place in my heart and I became the Viennese Girl.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I remember one day that I stumbled upon an article, whose title was: 20 things to do besides marrying, and one of the things to do was to make your own blog. Because marrying wasn’t one of my plans, I was influenced by this article and thought why not? Besides, the first year in Vienna was full of excitement and enthusiasm. There were so many things to discover and every new discovery was fun. But after the first year I somehow lost my enthusiasm and this was something I didn’t like. So, making a blog, keep taking pictures, and writing is a project for me, which helps to keep the enthusiasm alive. Writing in English is one more great challenge for me because in the past years I worked more on my German, Spanish, and Italian languages. As a result, with the passage of time, my English got rusty, so now I am making an effort to bring my English knowledge back to life.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Actually I love them all. But I have the feeling that the article about my travel in Istanbul attracted the most attention of my readers. I wrote it just after my trip to Istanbul and I think I managed to depict all the things I saw, and express my feelings very well in the article. It was written with love; that’s the key for success in life anyway. Most of my blog entries have many photos but there is one post called Life Abroad which has no photo, but I like a lot.
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?
Culture shock doesn’t exist for me, when travelling within Europe. Moving to Vienna wasn’t such a big difference to me because from one European capital city I moved to another European capital city. Vienna is not that big and chaotic like Athens, and that makes things pretty easy for me. I got accustomed immediately and I accepted the Austrian culture easily. The main thing that actually changed is stress. I had no stress in Athens, but I do have a lot here. I think this is normal when you are alone in a foreign country. But most of the time, I enjoy all the cultural differences, because this is one of the reasons that I am still here. If I didn’t want any change, I would have stayed in my home country.
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 wasn’t well prepared. Not at all. I knew nothing of what was going to happen. But that’s a part of the adventure, right? I let myself get surprised. I came with three suitcases in which there were only summer clothes. There were some cold days, even in the middle of June and I had nothing warm to wear. Afterwards, I bought some winter clothes and brought some from Greece. Fortunately, I was already able to speak German, something that on one side helped me a lot because I was able to communicate with everybody from the beginning of my stay in Vienna, but on the other side I had and still have difficulty with dialects. But I think all expats who come to Vienna are struggling with two things: the language and finding a place to stay. I know both experiences very well. At the end everything will be fine, it just takes time. In Greece we say: if you enter a dance, you have to dance.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
As far as I remember, there were many funny moments, but not any particular hilarious situation.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Vienna?
I wouldn’t give three tips; I would rather give three words: just do it!
How is the expat community in Vienna? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
If you are open to meet new people and friendly, you usually don’t have this kind of problems. I find it more difficult to maintain a relationship than getting to know new people. In my case, when I landed in Vienna, I first met my flat mates, then people from the German courses, university, work; I met a lot of people from different parts of the world, but I only still meet very few of them. Nowadays, thanks to internet and social media networks, getting to know people shouldn’t be an issue.
How would you summarize your expat life in Vienna in a single, catchy sentence?
I go on working on my personal project “self improvement - self progress”.