Relocating to Austria may give new meaning to culture shock

Relocating to Austria may give new meaning to culture shock

Relocating to Austria may give new meaning to culture shock

If you’re relocating to Austria, you’ll need to adjust your beliefs to align with some very unfamiliar Austrian traits.

Just like most other expat destinations, Austria can be all you want it to be once you’re used to the Austrians themselves. By and large, expats enjoy living and working in the country, but a few habits common to the indigenous population may take some getting used to.

Perhaps the most annoying trait for expats from other Western countries is that Austrians don’t take the smoking ban at all seriously. They smoke indoors, on the streets, in offices, bars, cafes, clubs, on railway stations and even in restaurants – lighting up more or less anywhere they please. As yet, there’s no general smoking ban, but a partial ban on smoking in restaurants and food processing areas should take effect by the end of this month.

Britons generally find service in UK restaurants more or less unacceptable, but in Austria it’s a lot worse! Grumpy waiters come as standard, the customer is always wrong and is never, ever in a rush to eat, pay his bill and get on with his life. Not leaving a tip is understandable, but will get you a nasty look. Also, unlike many world countries where talking directly can be considered rude, Austrians are very, very direct in their speech. This trend doesn’t just apply to trivial conversations, it’s a general rule and can be very difficult for expats to accept, at least until they realise how much time cutting out the waffle saves.

Another trait seemingly unique to Austria is that they’re brilliant at correcting people, even if they’re total strangers. Reprimands are issued for all kinds of behaviour considered perfectly acceptable or not worth bothering about in the home country. Crossing a totally empty road whilst the light is red is one example, especially as it’s also against the law. Whatever you do, there’s an Austrian lurking somewhere just waiting to tell you off. It’s also permissible to stare openly at anyone anywhere near you, especially on public transport. In Austria, it simply isn’t considered rude.

Perhaps the most scary of all Austrian are the bureaucrats. They send all their terrifying notices via the postal service, often with special delivery, and prison sentences are used as a threat if you’ve forgotten to pay a bill. On the other hand, if you’ve accidentally overpaid your health or social security charges, it’ll take for ever to get your cash back. In spite of all the above, the majority of expats living and working in Austria seem to like their postings just fine.

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