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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Vienna, Austria

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What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Vienna

Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?

No.

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If they speak another language in your new country, do you speak the language? If yes, did you learn the language before you moved or while abroad? If no, are you planning to learn the language?

I moved with zero knowledge of German (I could read but didn't understand anything) when I first moved to Germany. My speaking started to progress only after I moved to Vienna. I speak just a little (at the moment), however, I understand language very well (and it happened fast, I believe), so it's no problem to read anything, etc. I mostly learnt through movies (Austrian movies or English speaking movies with German subtitles), commercials on TV, then I started to read newspapers, magazines, books and translated what I didn't know... It helped me a lot!

Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?

No, I wasn't worried or concerned because I've been in Vienna multiple times and I knew what to expect. I always enjoyed staying there so I was excited to move.

How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?

The only thing that shocked me is all the activities that were all over me! And I mean it in a very positive way. I was able to see and expirience things I never had any chance to do! There are many advantages here!

Expats often talk about going through the "stages of culture shock." Examples include the honeymoon phase, the irritation-to-anger stage, the rejection of the culture stage, and the cultural adjustment phase. Do you feel like you went through these or any other stages as you settled into the new culture?

No, I don't think so. I didn't move alone and it might be way easier, I believe (however, I didn't move to Germany alone either and it was totally opposite experience for me anyway). I didn't find interacting to be any more difficult than in my country. I made mates and these mates became good friends later. The more I got to know people I liked, the more open interaction we had. They were interested in my culture and helped me out when I needed help. Some Austrians, some from all over the world. As soon as you know at least someone things get esier because it leads to knowing more people and you don't feel like a "sore thumb".

What, if any, were some of the changes you noticed in yourself that might have been caused by culture shock? These might include things such as anger, depression, anxiety, increased eating or drinking, frustration, homesickness, etc.

I don't think I had any, except some minor homesickness simply because my family and old good friends stayed in Ukraine. I miss them, of course, but now I don't live that far. I just have to remember about it.

What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?

A lot of things. Vienna is a wonderful city with own charm. Austria is a beautiful country with amazing nature. Art! There's really a lot to do here and it's an amazing place for anyone to visit!

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Language is still somewhat a challenge because I don't speak fluently. Nearly everyone speaks English here, so it's not a big deal until you plan to study or get some certain job.

Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!

I'm sure I did but it's difficult to think of it right now.

Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?

Advice: don't sit because it can make you depressed no matter where you are. City has a lot to offer, thanks God. So do something! Get inspired! Take drawing or music lessons, start taking photos, just feed your hobbies whatever they are! Be active all the time. Sign up somewhere because that's how you can get to know people who share your interests. And helps a lot if you have some difficulties to adapt. Don't expect people to be your best friends after you just met them a couple of times. After all you want real friends, don't you? To find your best friend is a difficult task anywhere in the world, I believe. If you already can find people who share your interests and views then nothing is lost. Just don't sit at home, don't close yourself from the world!

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Comments about this Report

guest
Nov 1, 2010 17:49

Right on the money, I am originally from Poland and I feel that Austrians are not any less friendly than people in Poland, for example, I actually feel that people in Poland can be much more unfriendly to foreigners than Austrians, but the bottom line is- people are just people everywhere, do not expect everybody will like you because you certainly do not like everybody and that is just normal.

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