Vienna – my second home

I find it very difficult to find a topic for this blog post. In fact, it is not a single cultural practice, institution or person that has gone from unfamiliar to familiar. No, it is Vienna as a whole. Vienna has become a home for me. There are many little things that were foreign to me at the beginning of my stay: the coffee houses, the grumpy Viennese, the linguistic peculiarities and the huge cultural offer. All these things belong to the city and together with many other things make up a Vienna that I have come to know and love in recent months.

Before my semester abroad I had never been to Vienna. So, everything was new and unknown to me when I arrived in September. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Vienna has its own special features – just like any other city. As I already wrote in my second blog post, these are some dialect words, for example. I got used to them very quickly, but it took me some time to include them in my vocabulary. But of course, using them actively made me feel more integrated.  My accent still told people that I’m not from Austria, but most people in my everyday life were very happy that I said “Topfen” and “Palatschinken” instead of “Quark” and “Pfannkuchen”. Since having returned to Switzerland, I have discarded almost all my expressions, but I still say something like the Viennese all the time: “Das past!”

The inhabitants of the city are probably a more negative peculiarity. Even before I left, I heard that the Viennese were quite unfriendly compared to the rest of the Austrians. Well, I can confirm this statement. Although I would not say that they are unfriendly, they are rather grumpy. I was constantly confronted with this fact in my everyday life – especially when shopping and driving with public transport. I have to admit that at the beginning I was quite troubled by the fact that most of the employees in grocery stores always seemed insanely annoyed. Rarely was I greeted at the checkout, rarely did anyone wish me a nice day. I didn’t take it personally, because they were like that to everyone, but it still bothered me and I missed friendly Switzerland. But at some point, I got used to it. I cannot say when or how, but at some point this grumpy facial expression was normal for me. And yes, to be honest, I have adapted. I also didn’t say hello in a friendly manner anymore when I paid for my purchase. Even if it sounds strange, it made me feel more like a part of society again.

But the last and probably most important aspect for me was the cultural offer that Vienna has to offer. Of course, this was not completely unknown. In Switzerland I also went to the theatre, to the cinema and readings from time to time. But never as often as I did in Vienna. The fact is that Vienna is a dream come true for students interested in culture. The theatre offer is unbelievably large, varied and for students unbelievably cheap. During my stay I was on average in a theatre performance every two weeks and I only saw great plays. The Viennese theatre scene has spoiled me incredibly and is also something I miss the most. The alternative cinemas with their small theatres and their great programmes have also grown close to my heart. Some of them show films that you can’t see in any cinema in Switzerland.

Yes, all these things have influenced my everyday life in Vienna. Adapting and adopting certain characteristics of the Viennese has led me to perceive myself as part of society in Vienna. And this has made Vienna my second home, to which I hope to return sometime in the future.

Leonora Schulthess

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