Grinning and Bearing It

I haven’t written in awhile because I’ve just been semi-depressed and uninspired and as my mom says, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all.”

Recently, I’ve been questioning my move here.  In my defense, as I said in My Story, I realized there are a lot of things I just did not take into consideration.  One of those things is that I seriously underestimated the enormity of my endeavor – seriously, WTF did I just do?!

Most folks extol change and adventure and it all sounds so very exciting just before you jump.  Others warn you of what a fool you are to give up the road most-traveled and smile knowingly waiting for imminent failure.  Those who choose change are not allowed to complain; it’s just not done: you grin, you bear it, and you spin obstacles into opportunity.  I’m not about to pack up and come home – hell no! – I’m trying to deal with it the best & smartest way I can, yet I am human and I am affected.

To bring you up to speed:

Just when I thought I had a handle on German, it threw me a curve ball. Here I am, going my merry way, feeling secure that I was mastering verbs and absorbing vocabulary at an astounding speed, I’d even started reading young adult books to expand my vocabulary boundaries and then I learned just how much German is controlled by the gender articles.  Simply, the masculine, feminine, and neutral articles determine how the case of adverbs and adjectives change in a sentence and the verb used determines which case (‘bestimmt’ – specific, ‘unbestimmt’ – unspecific, negative, or possesive) is applied.  Further, the prepositions also influence the case for an article, adverb, or adjective. This is child’s play when you’re dealing with simple sentences but now that I’m to use more advanced sentences….well, you get the picture.  Get the article wrong and everything goes out the window; to add more fuel to the fire, there is no rule as to how articles are given (i.e. a skirt has a masculine article, while a bowtie has a feminine article – WHY??!!!).

For some reason, I thought renting/buying a home (house or apartment) would be similar to how it’s done in The Bahamas or NYC.  I’m not going to go into all the details as I’m so confused by them, I probably would do the explanation an injustice but it’s really difficult to locate an open-plan kitchen/living room, 2-bedroom apartment with a bathroom that actually has a bathtub and a small garden in a quiet sub-urban neighborhood, 30 mins from the city, with public transportation and shopping within a ten-minute walk (gotta think about these frigid winters folks!).  The first culture shock was learning that rentals are not equipped with refrigerators, stoves/ovens, microwaves, bathroom/medicine cabinets – nothing!  You want it, you buy it or you pay the previous renter to leave his. (That’s one of those confusing concepts I’m not going to delve into.) When we did find an apartment that had almost every wished-for element (via serious time spent praying), we were told that there were over 30,000 persons waiting just to see this apartment and we’d be added to the list.  I thought I’d misunderstood the sales lady and had M1 (hubby’s mom) call to confirm.  No joke, there’s that much competition here and she could not be convinced to allow us an earlier appointment.  While disappointed, I’ve consoled myself by ‘letting go and letting God’.

Although, I’ve been enjoying the life exploring Austria, learning the transportation system, discovering where everything is – I’m really ready to continue my career.  Easier said than done – I have no real professional reputation here.  I’ve worked for some pretty high-profile, international companies so it was easy for me to convince myself and to allow others to convince me that I’d pick up where I left off – seemingly not going to happen.  Yes, the last 15 years spent building and fast-tracking my career might be a complete wash!   That alone was the biggest, hardest pill to swallow.  Just as I’ve seen migrants in other parts of the world do, I’m going to have to start again…from scratch…if I’m lucky, I’ll get a break.  My friend P also is taking it pretty hard – she’s a American-certified nurse with 3 years experience in ER who was told by the Austrian government employment agency that the best she can hope for is to start as a nurse’s assistant.  It’s not any easier for any of my EU citizen classmates either.

The final chapter of the scales falling from my eyes has been coming to terms with the culture shock and realizing that just because I wish it, they will not change:

  • Don’t laugh until you’ve lived it but what I wouldn’t give for a bathtub!  Oh how I have taken their proliferation in the homes of my past for granted!  This simple, over-looked, home-ware is a complete luxury here it seems.  As soon as I have one again, I promise, I will not surface from it for at least a month! 😀
  • I really wish folks would stop standing so close to me on lines; with all I’m dealing with, I could really do without feeling their hot breath on my nape!
  • Why is there phlegm everywhere?!  It’s impossible to stroll anywhere without keeping an eye on the ground.  It must be an unsaid, national sport – “Let’s see who can spit the furthest!”
  • The stares have not, and probably, will never stop; although I did get a good laugh when a guy walked into a signpost because he was ‘breaking his neck’ gawking at me.
  • I’m all for improvements but must law and regulation changes occur to the same thing every 6 months?  I guess it’s better than procrastination but the worse part is that in any given government office, the same question could be posed to six employees and six different answers could be given.  Nothing is ever provided in writing (smart folks – CYA! If it is, you can bet your bottom dollar it’s out-dated.) so the customer keeps running back and forth with mis-information, trying to please the bureaucrazzy (a term I picked up from a fellow blogger meaning ‘crazy bureaucracy)!

The other day, mournfully browsing through Youtube, I came across this funny but ‘oh, so true’ clip by amalou2 of what acclimatizing to Austria is like.  I’m experiencing almost all of these phases (for different things in my life) and have probably said almost all of them. 😀

It makes me laugh at myself and my woes, constantly reminding me that things will get better.  After all, I chose to be here and I choose to adapt, bloom, and thrive.

About A Bahamian In Austria

I am a Bahamian woman, married to an Austrian man, who's been freshly transplanted to Vienna. I started writing this blog when a dear friend insisted that I had to write down my experiences. At best it'll update my buddies on my crazy-going-ons and at least, it'll keep me from stalking them online (LOL). I hope you enjoy :D
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9 Responses to Grinning and Bearing It

  1. Elaine says:

    Oh girl, I get it. Especially the career thing. For women like us, we work so hard to make something of ourselves and our careers are such a part of our identity. To have to start that all over again is so difficult and it takes so long to make a name for yourself. However, while I know I did it in my own country so I didn’t have that difficulty, I too started my career over again, without a name, and am making something of myself. With someone as driven, intelligent, and hard working as you, it will definitely happen. And maybe the fact that, once it does happen, you know you can make yourself successful anywhere under any circumstances will make it that much sweeter. I’m rooting for you!

  2. Hi, Try not to worry about the German too much – the articles and genders and so on are a total pain. Just concentrate on understanding and speaking and try not to think too much about it when you have a conversation with someone. They will still understand you even if you get things wrong and gradually through listening and reading the errors will go. Just don’t let it put you off – keep studying in peace and quiet at home but when interacting with people just go with the flow.
    The job thing is a bit frustrating and I found that too. A lot goes on “who you know” and obviously when you first move to a country you don’t know anyone so it will take time but you can do it. I am self-employed now and it is great!
    Try not to let it get you down – do one positive thing each day towards achieving your goals and you will get there in the end. You learn so much every day when you move to a new country – it definitely makes you a stronger person. I am completely different (in a good way) to the person who moved to Austria from the UK 3 years ago.
    Good luck!

    • You’re completely right on both points; thanks for the reminder. I’m focusing on crawling out of my ‘pity hole’ and positively working toward the desired goal. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. 🙂

  3. yolanda says:

    I share every single word you say in this post. I moved to Vienna some 9 years ago and I felt every single word like you are saying it. Leaving in a different country, culture, language is never easy (I have done it in other countries before Vienna) but Vienna is a extremely difficult place for foreigners and as much as the only way is up, it also helps to know in dept your opponent to play your cards right. I could share some of my findings with you over a cup of coffee; let me know if you are up for it?

    • Hi Yolanda, thank you for reading and commenting. I agree with you, in any game that you play – be it business negotiations, cultural integration, or chess – it’s beneficial to know the rules, at least. I welcome and thank you for your kind offer.

  4. yolanda says:

    let’s do it!. Please send me an e-mail to arrange, you got it right?

  5. Hej from Sweden!
    Oh dear, you have been experiencing the exact same as I have here in Sweden! Both language issues, cultural issues and employment. If it weren’t for my husband being an Executive Director of a company and hiring me as his executive assistant, I would have no work. Sweden is great at accepting people from war torn countries and people seeking asylum, but once within Swedish borders, you are forgotten and even pushed to the fringes of society. I am a trained EMT and Clinical Laboratory Technologist, can’t get a job here in either of those fields. I have also worked in Animal Surgeries. Went to an interview at what I found out later was one of Sweden’s top Animal Surgeries. Interview was in English and each vet who spoke with me spoke clear beautiful English. Outcome: “You are more qualified than every person in this surgery, please come back when you are 100% fluent in Swedish!” No job! Skansen to work with the Lemurs after 3 different zoo jobs in the US; job was to clean cages and feed lemurs. No Swedish, NO JOB.
    After my husband retired and we moved to our home in the countryside, no job was available. I have spent the past 3 years planning and researching and educating myself in NY as well as the UK and will be launching my own business.
    I have found some very lovely people here in Sweden, I have learned the language, I am a member of the Women’s Business Network, but I am still stared at as if I had two heads! I try to let it roll off my back like water off a duck’s feathers, but like you there are those moments when the “Black” in me comes out and they don’t want to tangle with me! I always try to understand this curiosity they have about me; I try to put myself in their place even try to imagine how it must be to see a woman of color. I just can’t. I was born and raised in a multicultural society and as a parent I have done the same for my daughter. It becomes a drain sometimes just to go to my local grocery store where they see me at least 3 times a week. Still I have 2 heads.
    I just keep my eye on my goals and at times I am generous and allow people to get their fill of staring at me. I look at what I do have and what I have been able to enjoy here in Sweden. I am extremely happy here on our farm, I can walk forever and never see anyone. I have complete privacy and all my animals are happy here and so is my husband.
    It sounds like you are finding your way in you new home. Surround yourself with what makes you feel at home and happy! You didn’t make a mistake moving. You went with your love and open heart. It may take time but you will be just fine!

    • Hallo Sweden! It’s good to hear from you!
      First, I nearly flatlined laughing at your “…when the Black comes out of me” comment – I haven’t heard anyone say that in forever! As you say, I try to keep my ‘Black’ under-wraps and see my ‘strangeness/weirdness’ through their eyes but yes, it is trying at times.
      Pertaining to the employment issues, I’m just floored by it all – still! Perhaps its a Western superiority complex or arrogance (Austria is seriously very humbling to my person), but there is so much I did not expect. Oh I totally understand and respect and support that an employee must fluently speak & read the required language but how is there no correlation between a professional degree in the West and in Europe?
      Oh well, as you say, enjoy what you can!

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