I can’t believe that we are halfway through our first year
living here. To put it lightly, the last
six months has been a roller coaster. Although the month leading up to our pack-out
seem like a distant memory, it still feels like yesterday. I remember how stressful it was, even
though we made lists and checked them several times. We were both working full time, and after
work we’d be working on packing/getting rid of stuff/etc. until bedtime. There was no room to breathe for that one
month. Even after the pack-out, it still
felt like a race against time during our last few weeks in the States. There were moments where we thought to
ourselves, “Will all of this be worth it?”
On January 21st, we made our journey across the ocean
with eight suitcases and a dog. There
have been highs and lows; things have either gone really well or extremely frustrating
at times. There hasn’t been a middle ground (yet). Every day is a struggle of some sort. We are not on an eternal vacation.
If moving abroad were so easy and idealized like in the movies, wouldn’t
everyone be doing it?
In reflection of the last six months, these are some pros
and cons of moving our whole lives across an ocean.
- Living in the middle of the European continent was one of
the biggest motivators of moving here; because of all the traveling we’d be
able to take advantage of. This may be our only opportunity to go to places
like Jordan, Dubai, India, exploring the depths of Europe and parts of Africa for
flights that are less than eight hours. Most importantly, having our base here
is easier on the pocketbook and time. So, you bet your ass we are going to do
as much as humanly and financially possible!
- Vienna’s public transportation has spoiled us rotten. Our next destination has to have something
similar or be a very walkable city. With
six months of not getting behind the wheel, it’s been blissful.
- Just by living abroad, our prospective of the world has
changed. We thought that traveling had done just that, but living somewhere is very different from visiting one. Hubs and I have changed and continue to
change, adapting to a different culture and new sets of rules. It’s a rare gift and we try to be in the
moment and appreciate this short time in our lives.
- Learning a new language is not easy, even for someone like
me who already has the foundation with two other languages under my belt.
German is hard. And Austrian German makes it all the more confusing. There are
different words for the same thing. For
example, the box we get in to avoid using the stairs in buildings is called a
‘lift’ in Britain, but an ‘elevator’ in the US - same sort of thing here. I have taken one month of intensive classes
so far and hoping to take one more before the end of the year. So what am I
doing during this “in-between” time? I review my notes from class and observe a
lot when I’m out. I also try to practice as much as I can, that is usually just
when we go out to eat or if I’m buying something. I know quite a few other expats that are just
getting by with not learning it and I can understand. After all, there are only
a handful of countries that speak German and it’s not a U.N. official language.
One argument is that if they want to learn a language, it would be a U.N.
language so that it could help further their careers if one stays in the
- Living in my newly adapted country is like having a
relationship. There are so many emotions
that I deal with on an everyday basis.
Sometimes I feel like I don’t belong here and if I were to go back to
the States now, I wouldn’t fit in there either. It’s like I’m in limbo. Right now, I have a love-hate relationship
with Vienna and its people. The people
here are so reserved and keep to themselves; it’s hard to even approach most. But
when I get one act of kindness, or a smile, I appreciate it so much more than I
would back in the States. It feels like
I’ve won the battle at that moment, or that I’m finally getting through to the
locals. I guess that can be good thing, right?
- Austrian food isn’t that great. It’s warrior food, plain
and simple. You got your choices of
boiled meats, schnitzel, sausages, etc. - all with a side of peeled parsley
potatoes or bread dumplings the size of baseballs. Not exactly something you write home
about. However, we have found other
tasty alternatives (mostly other cuisines) and making things ourselves to
satisfy our taste buds until we travel abroad.