On this day exactly one year ago, I was arriving at my new home: Vienna. It occurred to me that some of you may be in same situation as I was before I moved (with many questions and few answers, I know the feeling! ) So I will share with you my experience and impressions along these 365 days we have been living in the “old continent”. Here I go!
First of all, as some may be reading my blog for the first time, I’ll introduce myself! (To my regular readers: I added some data that you may not know so that it´s not boring J ) My name is Lucila and I was born in Argentina. I lived aaaall my life there and the longest I had been away from home, family and friends was just a month … I had always been tempted by the idea of living in another country but it was not until we started to plan it along with my husband that it became real.
At the beginning we shuffled several options: Australia was the first. I even applied for scholarship to become a visa! But as the saying goes: “When a door closes, a window opens.” My husband has the Austrian Passport and had always suggested moving to Vienna. He had lived here for several years and was fascinated by the city! (He was right, as usual!) He had even learned the language and made friends! But I must confess that whenever he suggested this option, I prioritized places that none of us knew, I wanted to start from scratch and discover a place together. Despite of that, I had promised him that if the scholarship wasn’t granted to me, then I would give Austria a chance. Shortly after learning that Australia was not an option any more, an Austrian friend of my husband told us that the person who rented her apartment had left it free: This was our chance! That was in late May, and from there everything happened very very fast. I had no European passport so we got married, we quitted our jobs, and in August Husband came to Vienna to look for a job while I kept working up to 1 week before traveling (We had to save up to the very end!)
I remember the day my family took me to the airport on October 3rd … it was so hard!! They believe it was easy for me because I said good bye really fast, but I really didn’t want it to be harder than it already was, and waited until I got to the control office to cry by myself … Then I tried to remember why I was leaving my home- town: The adventure had just begun.
The first months were a challenge. Especially because it was a new language and a city that I practically didn’t know. I could only say “hello”, “bye” and “My name is Lucila and I come from Argentina” very useful right?? 😉 I also didn’t know many people, except for my husband’s friends, who eventually became friends of mine too.
But on the other side Vienna impressed me with its beauty! I am totally in love with this city! There were so many things and places to discover! I enjoyed going out to explore this magical city. Some people call this stage “The tourist phase” because everything is new and fascinating. Well, in my case this phase lasted much longer than the month of theory 😉
Being away is HARD, very actually! For me the last 3 months were especially difficult. It must be because I knew I would see my family this June, so I enjoyed the first months bearing this in mind. The good news is that as there are bad days, there are also the good days, in which one manages to focus on the positive stuff: all the good things of living here, which are a lot!!
Here are some tips that helped me survive my first year in a new country, and perhaps they will be useful to you if you are thinking about moving abroad:
– Learn the language ASAP! Starting with an intensive course right away was KEY! On the one hand I could practice this sweet, romantic language daily, on the other hand it helped me to have a routine and a goal to achieve (do not forget that I was working almost until I came here, so it was great to being busy!) Besides, I met people from all over the world and I felt understood, as we were all going through the same things.
– Be curious. I always was, but here it’s even more important. During this year I met many incredible places reading blogs or getting inspiration from Instagram. Try new foods, take part in the traditions of the country. This will not only allow you to make integration easier, but also it will motivate you to do something different every day.
– Making new friends. It seems silly to say it, but it is an important part of being an Expat. Do not forget that being away from home friends become FAMILY. A group that helped me a lot to meet people was “Women of Vienna” on Facebook. Most members are Expats, very friendly and you can also ask anything. (And I mean it! From where to buy the most varied items to knowing if you can cut flowers in the parks .. 🙂
– Take time to know the city. Everything has a fascinating story! From cafes to museums and buildings. For guidance on the street there are 2 life-saver Apps : Quando and AnachB. It’s possible to calculate at what time you have to leave home to get to X place combining trains, buses, etc. If it says you have to get out at 9:04 to arrive at 9:46, it will work! This was a great surprise to me!!
– Adapt to the new culture. I remember the first time I traveled with the subway (metro). Everyone traveled in silence and people hardly looked at each other. In Argentina it is quite the opposite! People speak loudly, everyone watches what the other does or wears, and sometimes there is even music in the public transport! Another anecdote was going up the escalator in the metro. I took the left side and stood still. HUGE MISTAKE! The left side here is only used as a fast lane … I learned the hard way! Those are just a few examples, instead of trying to change the local culture, I started to learn it and accept it. Give it a try, you will save many headaches!
– Use public transport as much as possible, even at night. In Vienna an annual card that allows you to use all means of transport (trains, metro, buses, trams) costs 1 Euro per day. Apart from being super-punctual, it’s comfortable and very well connected.
– Make all purchases weekend on Saturdays. There are things that are reduced to 50% and also businesses / shops do not open on Sundays!
– Do not take taxis. It´s not worth it, being on the street at night is safe. Except for certain specific areas, you can walk around everywhere at all times.
– Take advantage of free cultural activities on weekends. There are many and super fun. No need to spend to enjoy something different. (Check Viennawurstelstand on Facebook)
– Travel and visit as many places as you can! There are very good deals for travelling within Europe for a few Euros. Ryanair is my best friend! 😉
Are you still there?? I’m glad!! I hope you had fun learning more about life here. If there is anything else they want to know, you can ask in the comments! Finally, Here´s an Anniversary gift: My calendar 2017, with a picture of each of the months I lived here, hope you like it!