Isn’t Austria not being Australia confusing?

img_7850I remember once a roommate asked me if Kenya was the capital city of Africa and at that moment I didn’t know if to laugh, be sad or disappointed. When I realized she wasn’t joking I explained to her and I hope she has never forgotten. The human in me couldn’t help but judge a little. How could a 25 yr old international University student ask me that? Really?

I get asked all the time (no kidding) how Australia is. And to be honest, most of those times I don’t know how Australia is. Because I live in Austria. I have tried so many times to emphasize that fact but I always find myself explaining over and over again. The other day during the Australian fires, some were concerned and were asking if I was safe. I don’t know if it’s only me coz I feel embarrassed to embarrass people who mean well for me by correcting them. So I live in the lie sometimes where I don’t have the energy to correct. In that case I told some I was safe without further explanation.

I have friends and family who still believe I live in Australia. Funny thing is, when I tell people I live in Austria Europe and not Australia in the continent Australia they get confused and want me to clarify more. The more I can do is tell them that where I live is a border country to Germany. And the next time they will ask me how Germany is. Again I go, I don’t know how Germany is because I live in Austria. They are two different independent countries.

I have learned to accept that this will always confuse people and so I often go with the flow and tell them that Germany is so fine like fine wine. I mean when people ask how the place you are at is fairing they don’t necessarily want to know details. Right? The programmed answer is aways fine and you move to the next topic. Just like people ask how the weather is and you wonder how that information will help them afterward.
I went to the University of Nairobi Kenya to get an important letter I needed and I had to wait for some time to get it. I gave the director of the University the information they needed to put on that letter, you know like my name and my resident country, which he gave to another seemingly learned man in a suit to process. When I got the letter I cross-checked and found no fault. I swear the devil does work overtime because when I landed in Vienna and checked the letter, they had written Australia instead of Austria. The stamped letter was now useless. I wanted to die. I contemplated moving to Australia because the annoyance of people not getting it when you want them to get it is sometimes overwhelming.

I had a conversation today with someone who like many others thought that this whole time Austria was a town in Germany. While to most Austria is nonexistent and to few Austria-Hungary still lingers in their minds, and taking into account not everyone took history seriously or is interested in it for that matter, I found it about time I put it into writing a simplified version of the knowledge I have concerning this. I know we are too busy to google stuff and it’s going to be ironic if anyone reads this article. But this is where I will be sending those who test me.

I live in Vienna which is the capital city of Austria. A small independent country in the southern part of central Europe with a population of nearly 9 million people. Austria has 9 states, Vienna is the largest and most cosmopolitan. The national and official language is German, (they refuse to speak English even though they learn it in school just like we do). By we I mean Kenyans. So Germans and Austrians argue about which German is more German and who speaks it more correctly than who. I assure you they will never agree on that. (Btw they also don’t agree whether the Austrian born Hitler was German or Austrian. I guess no one wants to claim a Nazi)

Oh I almost forgot the many people who ask if I speak Germany instead of asking if I speak German. You have a special place in my heart. Germany is a Country while German is a language. And yes I speak German. Like I said these people refuse to speak English so for my peace of mind I have to speak their language.

Austria is bordered by Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary(yes they split probably before you were born), Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Italy. (To which side they border each other please google)

There are different Bavarian accents and I agree that Austria has deeper and complex accents. I think some immigrants would argue that Germany has the standard German. Okay that’s what they say anyway. (But It is all subjective) Austria has a democratic federal government, with a President, and a chancellor who holds more power than the president. The currency used here is Euros, as opposed to Australia who use the Australian dollar. Important to know is that Austria is part of Schengen. Meaning you can travel to the Schengen countries if you hold an Austrian Visa without applying for another visa. But still, check the facts before doing so. With all these divisions and borders some of us wouldn’t hesitate to demolish you never know.

I would personally say that Austria is a catholic country. There are so many beautiful picturesque, gothic and baroque, enormous and tiny catholic churches but they mainly serve as tourist attractions. I don’t want to say that regardless of this that God isn’t “common“ here but I‘m tempted to, I haven’t met a lot of believers and most people I know are just catholic on paper. Some officially exit church either coz they don’t believe or just because they don’t want to pay taxes. And few diligently still pay taxes but don’t go to church. Whatever, I don’t know where this is going. But I have to say I feel the presence of God more when I’m in Kenya than when I’m here. In Kenya He is more famous and profound I guess. I promise you if you are of little faith and moved here you are more likely to forget Him. Don’t disregard that.

However non-existent it seems to be for many, Austria has consistently been ranked as one of the top 20 richest countries in the world with a high standard of living and a social system that isn’t badly off in comparison with other countries. There is so much good to talk about this little beautiful touristic country and that doesn’t exempt the bad too. It’s a mixture of everything. Some of the bad things I have experienced you can find in my other articles.

Common knowledge isn’t as common or as accessible to everyone as we assume it to be. Hence why we should often share what we know with others without judgment. Even harder is the geographical knowledge. I know you struggle with whether Dubai is a country or a City. Yes you! 😀 go google. The world is too big and God knows my fish brain can only handle a tiny bit of it. We all just learn along the way if we want to.
Do I know a lot? I don’t. Do I come off as ignorant when some topics come about? I sure do. That is why I try to exercise listening more than talking when I have no idea what’s been talked about. I pop up questions that I really would like answers to and at that moment I might seem stupid but at least next time I can hold a conversation better.

So many things we learn because we are confronted by corresponding situations. We often don’t go out of our way to learn about things that don’t concern or interest us. So instead of always feeling attacked or calling people ignorant when they don’t know what you term as common sense sit back and ask yourself what you know. You have to realize that some people don’t have access to all information because they have never been confronted with all that.
Don’t only think of that disadvantaged illiterate in the village, there are heads of states, Ph.D. holders, Howard graduates who can’t relate to what you might term as common sense. Some of these people open their mouths to talk and you wonder how and what the hell. They haven’t been exposed to the basics or are merely ignorant and blind to it. What you are exposed to isn’t what everyone else is exposed to.

So my point is we should create conversations around different matters and often ask questions so we add to the knowledge we have. And if you are in a position to give answers please do. Judge them in your head. I know it’s hard not to judge.

I hope I have helped a few with that free information so please please please when we talk next don’t ask me how Australia or Germany is. To answer that I’ll have to do what you can easily do. Google! And when I move I will definitely let the world know. For now, ask me anything you‘de like to know about Austria. I‘ll try my best to answer you from my experiences and the knowledge I have gathered this far.






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