How To … Be an American Refugee in Austria
We are sorry you lost your country, displaced by rampant factionalism, ubiquitous guns and powers beyond your control. We also fully understand why you would be in a hurry to leave all the hate and misogyny behind, crashing the Canadian immigration’s website on election night. But take courage – Austria welcomes you! We realize you were probably intending to expatriate to Australia, but even so, welcome! After some initial culture shock – like seeing open beverages on the Ubahn (that’s subway) – you will notice that our little alpine paradise is much like America in many ways. The main differences being affordable (at times even free) health care, university and public transport, a functional social safety net, and a legal drinking age of sixteen. Also, our rednecks wear Lederhosen and the color to fear come election time is blue, not red. But once you’re over that, we’re sure you’ll fit right in with your Integrationsvereinbarung (If you know what that means and entails, you’ve truly arrived). If that seems all too much, never fear! Metropole is here to ease the transition: we got pieces on integrating legally, keeping your culture (and loving America from a distance), and even where to get drunk in public. Soon Wiener will mean more to you than something best served with French’s mustard, Bac-Os and sauerkraut. And as always, don’t be a stranger.
First off, you’ll need some practical information on getting your paperwork in order with the MA35 – Vienna’s municipal bureau for all things immigration and citizenship. Metropole‘s got your back:
Once you’re here legally, you need to figure out what to do with yourself and where to live.
Finding your way around is important no matter where you reside. Vienna boasts one of the best public transportation networks in the civilized world. If you find it hard to abandon those American habits of private transport, there are also plenty of other options, including car-sharing services. All this, and much more, on your Handy (that’s what the locals call a smart phone).
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Take the advice of those who’ve come here before and avoid the pitfalls many of us have faced! Most important, take some time to learn the language – sure, it’s a pain in the butt and most Austrians speak English, but you’ll get so much more out of life here, even if Metropole does keep you up-to-date and informed.
Those of you with children may be asking yourselves if it’s possible for them to adapt to such a radical change. The answer is, yes it certainly is. Kids are like sponges and learning an extra language or two might actually be to their advantage.
But how do you know if you are really up for the long term as an expat? Here’s some tips to know when you’ve gone native…
…and some more tips on how to keep your native identity from disappearing:
Americans are known to be a bit more fussy about their diets and, at first, this can be tough here in the Land of Schnitzel and Sachertorte. All you vegans and the gluten-intolerant, relax! There’s plenty of alternatives for you.
It may be a while before the shock of hearing the phrase “President Trump” wears off. In the meantime, you may need to distract yourself from your worries. Here’s some advice on how to accomplish that with style in Vienna:
Our best advice: subscribe to Metropole and get the inside scoop, in English, on everything that makes life worth living in Vienna; enjoy our “Grätzl” articles revealing Vienna’s micro-neighborhoods, restaurant and nightlife tips, events calendar, cultural event and exhibition previews, and so much more.