Now that I’ve been in Austria for almost two years, I’ve managed to adapt… mostly. But at this point, it feels like there are still certain things that I am struggling to get used to. And given that I’m two years in, perhaps I never will! Read on for my top ten!
I can handle the cold, but what I can’t handle is all the added accessories you have to constantly carry with you because of it. Coat, gloves, scarf, beanie… oh did I forget to put my shoe warmers in again… dammit! I finally upgraded my handbag to a satchel type because my short-strapped one constantly fell off my shoulder with the added bulk!
And of course… as soon as you go indoors, it’s toasty warm, and you have to carry everything around, or swelter
2. Drying my hair
I hate drying my hair. Hate. It. Do everything to avoid it. Luckily I have super-thin, straight hair that never does anything at all, so air drying is no problem. However in Austria in the winter, sometimes it’s just not possible to walk outside with wet hair, and crack the windows a bit on the way to work to dry your hair. It’s just too cold. So I’ve made friends with the hair dryer… sort of.
European breakfasts of ham and cheese on bread… nope, can’t do it. I’ve finally managed to find the perfect mix of mueslis to combine for an acceptable option and on the weekend we usually make porridge or eggs/big breakfast. But there’s nothing like a proper Melbourne café breakfast, with bacon, eggs, baked beans, mushrooms, spinach, hash browns, sausages etc.
4. Shelf toilets
If you’ve had the joy of encountering one of these after a big night out… well you know what I mean. I’m talking about the toilets where you do your… ahum… business directly onto a shelf, where it sits joyfully, smellfully, for you to inspect when you rise. These toilets are in abundance in Europe and I just don’t understand the logic. Luckily the apartment I’m living in has a ‘normal’ toilet.
5. Dry skin
I’m not one for complicated beauty routines, creams or lotions. In Australia, I always had hand cream at my desk, though I barely used it. In the winter over here, I am going through tubes and tubes of the stuff. The cold air just dries everything out. My fingers regularly feel like sandpaper.
6. Lack of oceans and swimming pools
At least we have a great pool in the town I live. The only problem is, it’s only open in summer, and on any hot day, it’s packed with people. Therefore my swimming is restricted to cool days from May to September. In Australia I would swim year round, a few times a day, usually before work. And the ocean and the smell of salt in the air is something that I still pine for. Let’s go to Italy!
7. Eating a large meal in the middle of the day
Austrians are primarily eating a larger meal in the middle of the day, and a smaller one at night. If I happen to eat a big meal in the middle of the day, all that happens is I nearly fall asleep at work, and I’m still hungry at night. So I’m still cooking my meat and three veg in the evenings.
8. The dialect
You said what? It seems I’m still no closer than I was 18 months ago on deciphering the local dialect. Of course most people talk to me using less slang and slower pronunciation, but get these Austrians in a group bigger than two, and I’ve got no idea what’s going on. Seriously. Still nodding and smiling.
9. How to drink schnapps
Proper Austrian schnapps still does not go down so well, and so I’m guessing that it probably never will. Of course it’s enjoyable to cough like an old dog after you have a shot, so I still occasionally partake in them, but I prefer the flavoured liquors… that taste like fruit and have half the alcohol content!
10. How to party hard
It’s just not working for me. Austrians regularly celebrate until the wee hours of the morning. I could do this in my early 20s, but I’ve always been a morning person, so unless there’s copious amounts of dancing happening, and even then, I am usually fast asleep by midnight. But hey, I think it’s kind of like what happened in my 20s… the stuff you didn’t (or couldn’t) want to remember was happening then.