Upon reflecting on my time here in Linz, Austria and the rest of Europe, there are a few things that immediately stand out, like the people, the culture and obviously the architecture. However, I still have much to explore and experience, but here are my thoughts about Linz thus far.
Oh, before I continue, a quick background. I am currently a student at the University of Cape Town. I was accepted into the exchange programme via the international office, IAPO. I am now spending a semester (October – January)in Austria. If you are a student and would love to experience such an opportunity, simply visit your school’s international office, or find out on the school’s website, there is always more than enough information available there.
- The People – There are two kinds of people that have caught my attention. The first kind is the cold unapproachable kind. They are probably the most aloof people I’ve encountered through my travelling. They appear to be very disinterested and quick to dismiss you. I guess that’s because they are not very open or exposed people especially concerning to what appears to be different from them. The second kind, and I’m not sure if this only happens when they are in the midst of consuming some kind of alcohol, love to stare and sometimes flirt. I’ve been called plenty of different names, all of which are an attempt to capture my attention. It’s true that Europe is not a continent with a large African population, but it is intriguing to see how some people react simply on the basis of your skin colour.
- Landscape – Linz, like most other European countries consists of a large assemble of old buildings and historical sites. What I love most is the existence of two completely different environments in one. The city centre and the country. It’s such a great paradox, because you get to experience 2 in 1, a bit of the fast life but also the humbling, relaxing but comfortable countryside. This brings me to the amazing hiking trails I have experienced, some with difficult terrains but always spectacular views. Plenty of outdoor activities to take advantage of here.
- Drinks – Wine and Beer. I haven’t consumed as much beer in my travels as I have in the city of Linz. It’s just beer galore, good beer though.The wine is on its own level of magnificent. Wine tasting in Linz, Austria is a definite must, and the people are attending these are the most interesting.
- Food – I’m yet to explore traditional Austrian cuisine and experience the Farmer’s Market. But apparently the schnitzel is to die for; I have to compare this to the Woolies one. Oh, and egg and dumpling is thing here, lol. I must say though that I am in vegetarian and healthy food heaven. It is easy and affordable to find all sorts of healthy, fresh foods for those of us attempting to eat healthier and go vegetarian.
- The Culture – okay, so the culture here is quite different from what I expected. They are a devoted religious people, with considerable regard to Christianity, to the extent of having all shops closed on Sundays. Their lifestyle is a bit on the expensive side. Punctuality is a serious matter, which is going to really test me as an African who functions on the concept of ‘African time’, which means never EVER on time (I need to work on this). They say, “Time is money” I’m more like “better late than never”. They have weird office hours, like these people don’t work, most days they knock off just after lunch time. This is what it’s like in first world countries I guess, you can only get paid so much a day, since your government really takes care of you.Did I mention they barely pay for University, only 19 Euros per semester, that is equivalent to R350 a semester! But more than anything I question their tolerance regarding other races. They have strong values, and the elderly still hold traditional German customs.
by Nonhle Matsebula