6

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.
Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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 system.

  • 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.

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