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Michelle, Vienna

Who are you?

Hey everyone! I’m Michelle from the United States, living in Vienna, Austria — so I’m an American in Vienna (hence the blog name!). Besides being a blogger, I am also busy as the creator and co-organizer of the Facebook group,”Women of Vienna” (womenofvienna.org).

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I moved abroad because of my husband! He got a great job in Vienna so I decided to make the move and come live with him in a foreign city.What challenges did you face during the move?

Having to let go of my old life in the states and say goodbye to my family, however through that challenge I became a stronger and more independent person in my life. Also, just adjusting to a new culture and way of life was a challenge in itself. Of course the language (German) is quite a challenge to learn, and it can be hard to find a job as an English speaker, but the point is to keep persisting! Plus, unless you have a lot of money, it takes a long time to find a good apartment (the bureaucracy works quite slow here).

Also I had to get use to some attitudes here – the Viennese or certain people in Vienna generally can be known for their frankness/honesty, which may come off rude to Americans, but they just speak honestly and it’s simply something who they are. I am just use to the American friendliness/hospitality I grew up with for 25 years!

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Are there many other expats in your area?

There is definitely a large expat community in Vienna, and there are many groups, both online and in person for these expats to come together and hang out. I created ”Women of Vienna,” (womenofvienna.org) an online women’s group which now has over 2,000 women and through the help of my two co-organizers Betsy and Undine, we make sure that women both new and local to the city, can connect and have fun with each other.

What do you like about life where you are?

The work-play balance and how Austrians give a lot of value to relaxing and vacations is awesome. There seems to be an importance in maintaining health and well-being in one’s life here in Vienna. The tap water comes straight from the mountains, and the government has banned GMO-foods and other chemicals for consumption. There is more consideration into the quality of life of the people in Vienna/Austria that I think American government should open their hearts to.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

That’s an interesting question…I mean, I’ve been through a lot this year and really can’t complain cause Vienna is an awesome city and there is a good expat community of people wanting to help each other out and make new expats get comfortable in the city. I suppose just living so far away from family is what I dislike! I have to take 2 planes or a 10 hour direct flight to go back to my hometown in the states.

What do you think of the food in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?

I love the high-quality food and the different varieties of food you can eat in this international city. I just discovered an Ethiopian restaurant here that I’m looking forward to trying out. Also, I love how the Italian restaurants are authentic with real Italians working in there, and the food is amazing (just like in Italy!).

The only ”dislike” I have is that Viennese breakfasts are very carb-heavy and small. It is just not for me, but I appreciate the cultural experience when eating them.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

1) Do research on the Viennese culture and Austria in general so you understand more of your soon-to-be new home.
2) Connect with people from your country through online expat groups or other foreigner groups in general and see if you can meet up with some of them when you arrive.
3) Make peace with the fact you are transiting to a new life and that there are going to be challenges ahead, but always make sure despite these challenges, you find solutions.

You are welcome to contact Michelle through her blog American in Vienna, or via email.

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