A Chronicle Of My Experiences Living Abroad

A Chronicle Of My Experiences Living Abroad: February 2013

February 28, 2013


Apparently, ticks are prevalent in Austria. Therefore, it is highly recommended that residents are to be vaccinated against Tick-Borne Encephalitis (a.k.a Viral Meningitis). It's a disease that attacks the nervous system and every 100th case results in death of the affected person. YIKES!

So knowing me, I got Hubs to sign us up for the three interval vaccination! It's also convenient that these shots are offered at the U.N. health center.  We both got our first doses today and will be getting our second in April. Whew! That's one less thing to worry about, especially with spring around the corner. For the first time since we've been here, the temperatures have finally been steadily above freezing. We are super excited about spring time here. We've heard nothing but wonderful things and can't wait to experience it.

We've also started brainstorming/planning our future travel plans...so stay tuned!

February 27, 2013

Vienna Schneekugel Museum

Today's excursion took me to the original Snow Globe Museum, located in the 17th district. The museum is situated in a quaint suburban neighborhood, where if you don't look for the itty bitty sign-you'd miss it entirely. 

Erwin Perzy I created the very first snow globe in 1900 and got the patent for it. And 110 years later, the Perzy family still produces the snow globes by hand. The precise composition of the artificial snow is a closely-guarded family secret. Also, the water used in the globes are sourced from pure Vienna Alpine water. With each globe made by hand, no two are alike! How cool is that?

 Really? Who can see that itty bitty sign from across the street?

My little piece of Vienna

February 26, 2013

Heavy Heart

Hubs and I lost a family member yesterday and are still trying to make sense of it. It's also hard because we are so far away from our families and friends right now. Even though I've only interacted with Hub's uncle a handful of times, it was enough to have my heart sink when I read the email. I was in the middle of making dinner and had to stop. He was a sweet man and has been taken from us way too soon.

Why is it that when tragedy strikes, you truly start appreciating the people around you? We tend to take life, and especially those closest to us, for granted. We think that we have "forever" to make up for arguments or "there's always tomorrow...". What if that fight was the last time you had with the person? Or you never got to get together when you had the chance, but blew it off thinking that you'd have another time? There are many what-ifs that could drive a person crazy. So instead of all those thoughts going through one's mind, wouldn't it just be easier to spend as much time with those whom we claim are "near and dear" in our hearts?

Life is precious. Cherish it. We don't know when we will take our last breath...

February 25, 2013

Sigmund Freud Museum

Today was the first time that I've been able to do anything remotely "touristy". Many may find it surprising that this was on my must-see list for Vienna. I've always been fascinated with Freud's work throughout my college years. I was so excited to see the residence where he established his practice.

Entrance to Freud's Practice

Sign beside the entrance door

Waiting Room

Close up of one of Freud's degrees

My souvenirs

February 21, 2013

One Month

I can hardly believe it's been exactly one month since we left U.S. soil. The process of the move and the emotional hardships endured during the last few months, seem like a distant memory now. It has definitely been an extremely stressful journey getting to this point, but it was all worth it.  

Happy one month of surviving a move abroad!

We went from this:

Pack-Out (December 26-27, 2012)
Bye-Bye America!

To this:

Exactly one week after moving into our permanent home
All bedding was made lovingly by my very talented mom:)

February 19, 2013


I am first generation born Taiwanese-American. Growing up and living in the United States is all I've ever known. Sure, I got to spend my summers in Taiwan and have juggled both cultures throughout my life. I have traveled extensively and dreamed of living in a foreign land. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would end up living in Europe.

People may think " Wow...what an opportunity!" and that living abroad is all sunshine and sprinkles. It is an opportunity of a lifetime, but not without sacrifices. I can now truly understand what my parents went through to come to United States in their mid-twenties. It's hard. Really hard. There are so many things to consider. Hubs and I are practically "starting over" in our early thirties.

For instance, if something goes wrong with a product, like cell phone billing for instance, how does one even begin to call and fix that?  It would lead a person to feeling helpless. Back in the States, it's such an easy task that we take for granted. Many times, paying for goods and the total price is spoken in another language. You either have to bend over to read the screen or ask the cashier if they speak English. Yet, another task that we normally wouldn't stop and think of back in the U.S.

Every time I run into a situation where I can’t use English, I think of my mom.  It brings tears to my eyes knowing that she struggled so much when she immigrated to the U.S.  It was much harder for her than me.  She still relies heavily on my sister and me, and to this day has some trouble with the language and culture.  

I love that I’ve been given this experience and know that I do have it easier than my mom.  The next few months of settling in are going to be challenging, but we’re up for it. What’s life without challenges?

February 17, 2013

Snoozy Sundays

Everything shuts down on Sundays here, even grocery stores. There are only a few places that are open and are usually at tourist venues, train stations or the airport. People value their "down time" in Vienna. Sundays are for resting and spending time with family. It's a great time to reflect on what's really important.

This is our first Sunday in our home and it feels fabulous. We have already started to create great memories here, by cooking our first few "real" meals together. We've also finished up the remaining 15% of  organizing our things and now the flat is truly complete and ours. So even on a cloudy day like today, our home is still filled with so much light. And I think to myself, this is truly a dream come true.

Here's to many more great snoozy Sundays ahead!

February 15, 2013

Home SWEET Home (Part Two- after)

After a day and half of sorting through all our things, I'm about 85% done. It's been so fun making this new and permanent place our "home". I love how all our pieces fit perfectly into the space. As you can see from the pictures, we still have to hang pictures, a mirror, and other small knick knacks on the wall. Other than that, all the livable rooms are basically done. Home SWEET Home it is!!!

Shoe Nook to the right of entry
View from Kitchen looking into living/dining area
Living/Dining Area

View from couch into Dining area
View from Dining into Living area (If you look closely, Hershey decided to sneak into the pic)

February 14, 2013


After seven weeks of living out of suitcases, we are finally in our permanent home. The movers were in-n-out in four hours! That included unpacking everything and taking ALL those dreaded boxes away.  It was quite impressive.

As I sit on our couch, I can truly start envisioning our lives here.

Move-In Preview

February 11, 2013

This time of year...

I've always spent the Lunar New Year surrounded by loved ones. This year I'm spending it in Vienna with just Hubs and Hershey. It doesn't even feel like the joyous holiday. For the first time since our arrival here, I am starting to miss my family...

February 9, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness

I would consider myself a keen observer of many things.  In just the three weeks here, I've realized that Austrians are very thoughtful, but reserved people. On several occasions, I've seen many nice things that people do for one another here. A blind man trying to board a tram, and two people jump out of their seats and help him up the steps and offer him one of their seats.  We were running for the tram with our arms full of home stuff.  A lady saw us from across the street and held the door for us even though she wasn't getting on the tram herself. I couldn't thank her enough. Elders and expectant moms are respected, and have specials seats on public transit dedicated to them. People get up for them even if they aren't in those seats.  I thrive on small gestures like these. It makes my heart my smile when people go out of their way to do something so nice for others. 

February 7, 2013

Dining Out

We have dined out about a handful of times so far. There are a few subtle details that I've observed. First off, you get to seat yourself. Unless there is a "reserved" sign on the table, any open table is for the taking. Be it a fancy place or just a cute little cafe, you have a choice of who your seat mates are. This is brilliant! No more sitting next to the obnoxious loudmouth on the cellphone or bickering couple.

Secondly, there's no such thing as "doggy bags" for leftovers. With the "right" portion sizes, there really is no need for them. I have not tested this theory, but I've heard that servers look at you funny when you do ask for bags or boxes. Usually they will just bring you a "bag" and assume it's actually for your dog.

Another detail I've noticed, is that servers do not bring your check when your done eating. After they clear your table, they continue to let you go about your conversations. Until you verbally ask for the check, you aren't pestered or given the "hurry up so I can end my shift" stares from servers. It's quite nice.

In general, Europeans enjoy dining out and it usually takes a couple of  hours, not because the food takes forever - but because they truly value their time out with friends and family. It's more about the social aspect than eat-n-go.

February 5, 2013


It has been six weeks since we were packed out from our home in Maryland. We still haven't received either one of our shipments. I feel anxious and annoyed, because we are still in our temporary apartment knowing that our permanent place sits empty. I have an innate need to nest badly and get on with our lives here. We are sick and tired of living out of suitcases. I know it sounds crazy, but I miss pulling my clothes out of a drawer or closet.

While Hubs has started his life with work and even already a planned ski trip with coworkers, I feel like my life is put on an eternal hold. I am counting down the minutes of when we will get the call, that our goods are ready and have a delivery date. In my culture, it's a tradition to seek out "good" dates for big life events (i.e. moving, marriage, starting a business, etc). There are only so many dates to choose from in the next two weeks, and it's quite an uneasy feeling. Everything has to be timed right.

I know I shouldn't even be complaining, but there are some frustrations of moving your whole life across the ocean. We are crossing our fingers that we will get some sort of status update by Thursday. In the meantime, this holding pattern is like waiting next to the phone for a guy that's never going to call, but said he would. 

February 4, 2013


View from school

After two weeks here, I know I have to learn German at lightening speed if I want to feel "at home" and not a forever tourist for the next three years. As mentioned in a previous post,  I bought Rosetta Stone and it really hasn't helped as much as I would like. It also doesn't provide me interactions with other people either. Today, I signed up for an intensive immersion class that takes place Monday-Friday - three hours sessions. Each level will take a month and there are a total of 12 levels. My goal is to get through as many as I possibly can and be successful at it. I can't wait until the day that I can get around without using the phrase "Sprechen Sie Englisch?" People have been super friendly and helpful when I use it, but I truly want to make an effort to "fit in" as well.

February 3, 2013

Home SWEET Home (Part One- before)


Mezzanine style top floor flat(two levels, but you can't see down from the second)
beautiful detailed hardwood floors
updated kitchen
One bedroom
TWO FULL bathrooms (a rarity in this city)
TWO terraces 
lots of storage (another rarity)
lots of windows


Terrace right off the kitchen
Looking into the living/dining area from kitchen

 living/dining area

Second terrace out the top of the stairs and right beside our bedroom

To the left, you see the St Stephan's (one spire)  and to the right, you see Votive Church (two spires)

View from our bathroom

February 2, 2013

Appliance Adventure

We got the keys to our flat today! 

Before moving here, we had to get rid of a lot of our small appliances due to the voltage difference. Thankfully, we had gracious friends and family who gave them new homes. So after obtaining our keys today, we went out to buy a few to bring back to our new place. It was quite an adventure carrying them and using public transit. There was a slight moment of "a car would have been easier", but that quickly disappeared. It's really just a slight inconvenience, because it's not like we will be buying these everyday for the next three years. Still LOVE not having a car!

Can't live without a Nepresso machine, steam iron, and vacuum cleaner. All of which are made in Switzerland, France and Germany respectfully.  None of that "Made in China" B.S.

 Stay tuned for "before" pictures of our gorgeous new place...

February 1, 2013


Our dog has many personalities and we truly lucked out with adopting him two years ago. We can't imagine our lives without this lump of joy! Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend, wherever you are :)

Aren't you going to share that with me?
He sometimes thinks he's a cat...

What a hard life...