Some of my friends and family members back home have asked me, “Hans, what’s it like living in Austria?”
I always emphasized the initial disappointment that one experiences when he or she realizes the importance of geography lessons in grade school and that this Austria doesn’t come with beaches or shrimps on the barbie; however, I have pointed out, it gets better from there.
The second question people ask is, “Hans, when can I come visit?”
I’m kidding; no one asks that. I’m the one who’s begging for people to come visit me because I’m terribly homesick and miss all things American back home, like drivers trying to kill me on my bicycle and Guantanamo Bay.
However, I actually have had people ask me questions about my teaching assistantship program that do merit a serious answer, such as “Are there things I should know before deciding to move out to Austria?” and “How desperate is this program to have accepted you?”
With seven months of living in Austria under my belt, I figured it would only be fair that I shared some of my wisdom to anyone considering applying for this program and living in this wonderful country.
Without further ado, these are my nine tips to know before moving to and living in Austria:
- Know how to say Oachkatzlschwoaf.
In Austria, it is customary for a foreigner to introduce him- or herself to an Austrian by saying “Oachkatzlschwoaf,” which means, “Squirrel tail.” Although it may be difficult to pronounce at first, Austrians are very patient when it comes to foreigners trying to say this and will be more than happy to let you repeat it a few times.
- Practice your Hochdeutsch
As a general rule of thumb, Austrians speak strictly in Hochdeutsch, or High German, and thus it is important to know how to speak proper German – especially if you’re placed in a region such as Vorarlberg, where citizens pride themselves on their Hochdeutsch. However, if worse comes to worst, Austrians are known to speak fluent English.
- Plan a visit to St. Pölten.
St. Pölten is one of the most beautiful towns in all of Austria and the capital of Lower Austria. Being the capital, St. Pölten offers many opportunities for leisure activities and is well known for its vibrant nightlife.
- Refer to Austria as “Little Germany.”
Austrians are very content with the fact that they get to be Germany’s little sibling, and many often refer to Austria as “Brüderlein,” or “Little Germany.” Unsurprisingly, Austrians generally wish they could be Germans if given the choice.
- Be prepared to let Austrians know what they’re missing out when it comes to beer.
Austrians are very humble when it comes to their beer – they know that their beers aren’t the best quality and are always curious to try different kinds of beers. If you’re offered an Ottakringer, a Gösser, or a Puntigamer, and you’re not impressed by any of them, just say it! Austrians will be more than happy to concede that American craft beers are miles better than what they have in their country.
- Take advantage of SOCIALISM whenever possible.
Because Austria is a SOCIALIST state, the government will take everything that hard working people earned and give it all to the druggies, the homeless, the lazy, and the sick. Use SOCIALISM to your advantage by becoming homeless, poor, addicted to hard drugs, and ill. SOCIALISM will take peoples’ hard-earned money and lavish it onto you so that you can shoot your unemployed self up with heroin on the side of the street while nursing an amputated leg. In fact, most towns in Austria are actually just glorified camps formed by crowds of these people suckling on SOCIALISM’s teats.
- Ask Austrians you meet on the street about Austria’s role in World War II.
This is a topic that Austrians are greatly interested in discussing – even with strangers – and especially with Americans. Austrians as a whole openly admit that their country was complicit in Nazi atrocities during the war and take full blame for the millions that were killed due to Austrian Nazis. An overwhelming majority of Austrians lament the fact that this part of history is not discussed enough in schools and believe that more should be done to remember Austria’s role in World War II.
- Join the FPÖ.
The FPÖ, also known as the “Freedom Party of Austria,” are a political party that fights for freedom in Austria, similar to how America fights for freedom everywhere in the world. You can show your support of freedom by joining the FPÖ, and because Austrians are very open about their political affiliation, you will find that joining the FPÖ will ease your assimilation into Austrian society.
- Don’t be brown.
This is a fairly easy tip to follow and one that Americans should already know to follow back home.