Within this review section former exchange students to Vienna share their stories, experiences and opinions with you. Enjoy!
Culture Shock? Not quite.
A few remarks about the approachability of the Viennese.
We had only been at the bar for half an hour when the boy next to me asked where I was from. And thus started a very interesting twenty minute conversation in which we discussed and compared everything from politics to entertainment between Hungary and the United States. And when the conversation died, we both moved on.
Afterwards I was surprised that an eastern European boy in Budapest had approached me so easily. I realized then that I was already used to the Austrian way of meeting new people, which is essentially to not do it. Whether at restaurants, on the street, bars or clubs I have not been approached once by an Austrian asking me anything. Before coming here I had heard the stereotypes of the rigid, disciplined, privacy-loving Germans and Austrians. I had also heard, and have now seen, that this manifests itself in the way Austrians keep to themselves in bars and clubs, places that I had formerly considered as places where people go to meet someone new.
Unfortunately for me, I continue to go out with the hopes that I will meet a local, and I continue to be disappointed. Not only would my German improve by conversing with Austrians, but I would also learn so much more about Austrian culture from a first hand perspective.
Other than this one gripe, my time here has been filled with only positive experiences. And the interaction that I do have with locals, mainly me asking people for directions the first couple of weeks, has been more than expected. Everyone I have asked for help has been overly helpful. Almost every time that I have asked for directions, the person I ask walks me down the street, often more than one block, to correct street car stop.
One of the first weekend nights that I was out with my roommate, we got very lost and were very far from the night bus that we needed to take. We approached two young males waiting at a different bus stop to ask for directions. Though they didn´t know where to catch the bus we needed, for at least twenty minutes they studied our map and the map at the stop and pondered ways that we could get back home the quickest. In the end, they offered us the beer they had in their pockets, hailed us a taxi (in the rain), and wanted to pay for our cab ride home. In comparison to my experience with Americans in a big city, most have said “I don´t know” if they weren´t sure and moved on.
I am convinced that the Viennese really are very friendly people once you engage yourself with them. Though at times I have been nervous to approach someone using my iffy German, the results have always been positive.
Morgan from Philadelphia, USA