Fun and challenges during my year abroad in Vienna, Austria

Posted on: 9 February 2024 by Jakub Rzucidlo in 2024 posts

A picture of Politics with German student, Jakub outside the plane terminal
Jakub Rzucidlo at the Airport waiting for his flight to Vienna

Late September Sun to Schnitzel dates. Politics with German student, Jakub Rzucidlo, spent the first five months of his Year Abroad in Vienna doing an Independent Work Placement. Find out more about his experience in this blog post.

Over the last five months, my life has undergone some pretty big changes as I moved to Austria for my year abroad. While this may seem like a thrilling European adventure, and it truly is, I've encountered both funny and challenging situations during my time here.

I have chosen Vienna as my destination, as I already had a friend here, and having visited her a couple of times prior to setting off for my year abroad, I really came to like Vienna. It always felt like it might be a cool place to live in at some point in my life. So naturally, on the day of flying out from the UK, I was super excited and still couldn’t believe that I was moving countries for 10 months yet again, after moving from Poland to the UK.

As I arrived two weeks before starting my internship, I really got to explore the city and got to know some of the less touristy parts of it thanks to my friend. I think this was the most enjoyable time, the late September sun and having no responsibilities at all almost felt like a bit too long of a holiday.

A view for the gardens and the view from the Gloriette in Vienna

Although super touristy, Schloss Schönbrunn, the gardens and the view from the Gloriette is definitely one of my favourite things to see – it also looks gorgeous captured on film!

Work culture

Soon after the careless two weeks, I started my internship and to say the least, I didn’t anticipate the atmosphere in a German-speaking workplace to be so different to the one in the UK. It’s definitely one of the major culture shocks for me. To this day it’s really difficult for me to get my head around it. Navigating the Austrian/German professionalism, working within an office setting, and adapting to a rather pragmatic mindset while simultaneously trying to make friends has been quite challenging! Understandably so, I suppose everyone has their own lives outside of their workplace and might not want to socialise but so far, I’ve been finding it difficult to have a proper laugh with the locals. Not to say it’s not doable, I’m fortunate enough to have established a good connection with my flatmate and her friends. Occasionally we are having a dinner together and we chat daily about a lot of stuff, and this just makes me feel a little bit less homesick. Additionally, having my close friends from Liverpool visit me in Vienna or having my best friend doing her year abroad in Graz in Austria, definitely helps with the rather frequent feeling of homesickness.

 Students eating Schnitzel in Vienna

Me and Teresa. We have this made-up tradition that every time we meet up either in Vienna or Graz we are having a “Schnitzel date” and just catch up on life and our Austrian adventures. We also can’t say no to a good Austrian Sacher Torte (chocolate cake)

It’s Halftime

Now halfway through my time here, I can say that I was a bit too confident with thinking that I won’t be missing home and the comfort zone I left behind. At times it is really stressful and daunting trying to thrive in a foreign country and working on improving what is my third language after Polish and English. However, I know it’s a part of something bigger to come and most importantly a huge one in a lifetime opportunity to improve my German skills. On that note, I think it will make me laugh for a long while thinking about visiting Austrian doctors for the first time. The doctor asked me if I have any allergies, me forgetting the most basic German word and saying that I can’t remember the name of it. She made a joke “Is it Pollen? Because you know, you come from Poland”. It’s rather a dry language joke (Poles and pollen in German are written slightly differently, though pronounced in a similar way – Polen and Pollen), nevertheless, small-talk in German will never stop to make me giggle.

Sometimes being here is really challenging, not only in terms of the language but also mentally or just physically, but I’m sure I will remember this adventure for the rest of my life. Here’s to the next five months!