Expat Reality Check

I had a moment just now where I realised the things I’m taking as a given are quite strange if looked at objectively. I spent the last hour doing online Pilates classes from youtube with snow falling outside my window at the start of December. Living in an apartment that I couldn’t have imagined even if I tried to a year ago. December 5th marks my one year anniversary arrival into Austria. Obviously I’d travelled through here with Topdeck in 2011 on tours but December 5th was my arrival date in Munich, the start of my job with directski.com and the beginning of my winter in Soll and all the adventures that it bought me. The beginning of the rest of my Austrian influenced life if you want to be dramatic about it.

This is pretty much how Austrian I am now!

So much has changed since then that summarising it sounds like a movie script. I met S, got kicked out of Austria, travelled through 20-odd countries in Europe while struggling with the long distance relationship and missing him, quit my job, moved to Vienna, applied for my Visa, freaked out my parents and now live like a real live grown up in an apartment in central Europe. What the what. None of that was in my life plan. What’s interesting now, is that I can take this ridiculous life i’m living – exercising in a Viennese apartment, wearing a singlet from the 2011 Sziget festival in Hungary while watching snow fall and compiling xmas shopping lists for Australia – and its relatively normal. Does that make me strange or life crazy wonderful??

On Friday I went to the Girls Gone International Meetup and chatted with quite a few lovely women about their lives in Vienna without the meat-market feel of other Internations get-togethers. Ran into a friend again and am catching up tomorrow night for an English Book Swap. The beginnings of my own social circle. I have the capability to deal with the snowy weather now and, if this job I interviewed for on Friday comes through, I may be on the path to a ‘regular’ life and job.

This is both awesome and concerning. Awesome because god knows we need the income, even if I earn at the lower end of the pay-scale and pay 50% tax here, it will be a much needed supplement. Concerning because I left Melbourne and office work because it drove me mad. I’ve worked active jobs for the past two years and am used to a near-constantly changing environment. What i’m worried about is slipping into an unhealthy (i.e sedentary desk job) environment, and getting too comfortable within my relationship (i.e enjoying S cooking me delicious dinners nightly) to push myself into an active lifestyle. Now the good flipside of this is – I live in freakin’ Austria.

This place is like heaven to ‘active people’. I’ve never been one of those go get ’em hikers, trail walkers, outdoorsy types but this country is FULL of that attitude. If they’re not flinging themselves off mountains with off-piste skiing or Redbull challenges, they’re spending their summer days hiking in the woods, Nordic Walking around their neighbourhood parks or going for a family ‘walk’ that takes 4 hours and will probably involve a mountain. I am hoping by sheer association this healthy attitude will rub off on me. To offset the effects of schnitzels, strudels, schnapps and Christmas silliness I need to make 2013 the year I adapt the Austrian attitude to exercise!


Nordic walking is NOT this much fun

Enough of premature NYE pledges though, right now I’m happy to know that what is objectively bizarre to me – snow, in December, nice apartment, happy committed relationship- is becoming my normal. I guess normalising this bizarre stuff is all part of my expat experience and if the chats I had on Friday were anything to go by, it all gets better and better the longer you stay. To which I can only think – bring it on Vienna, I’m ready!


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