My name is Ulli and I’m from Austria ‒ that tiny country in the heart of Europe. People are probably thinking of Sound of Music right now ‒ I have to admit I have never seen the entire movie. In the course of this semester, I’ll try my best to broaden people’s knowledge of Austria by discussing some aspects of my culture. For me, this is really important because Austria is so much more than just the Sound of Music.
I was born in Vienna and spent the first four years of my life living there. Then, my family moved to a more rural region. I personally enjoy the countryside more than the city. My tiny hometown ‒ only 5.000 people ‒ is situated in a valley in Lower Austria which is a state in the northeastern part of Austria. I’ll bet right now you are all asking yourselves if it looks like the Sound of the Music there. Well yes, there are mountains but my friends from Salzburg keep telling me that you can’t take them seriously. But take a look at this picture and feel free to form your own opinions.
About three years ago, I moved away to study at a university. Vienna seemed to be too big of an adventure, so I decided to move to Graz ‒ the second largest city of Austria. But please don’t imagine a large city now because the population of Graz is only about 100.000 people more than Salem’s population. The University of Graz is pretty big though with about 30.000 enrolled students. I’m studying English and Spanish at the Translation Department, but I think I’ll continue with studying German in order to become a teacher for German as a second language. German?! Yes, that’s my mother tongue ‒ not French! I just wanted to make sure … 😉
One of the great passions in my life is traveling and embracing different cultures. About one year ago, I returned from my first exchange semester in Salamanca, Spain. Looking back on my semester, I really had a wonderful time there. I made friends with a lot of great people from all over the world, I visited many beautiful cities and places all over Spain and Portugal, and I made a lot of valuable memories. I really enjoyed that experience, so I decided to study abroad for another semester ‒ here at Willamette! It is my first time visiting the United States! I really enjoy living here because everyone that I meet is so welcoming. This makes it really easy for me to feel comfortable and has made for a smooth transition into the American lifestyle.
Last but not least, let me tell you why I love my home country and why I think that other people just have to love it too:
In my opinion, Austrians are very friendly and welcoming people, even though it doesn’t seem so at first. We just need a little bit of time to open up! We also love spending time with our family and friends ‒ which often includes drinking quite a bit of beer and/or wine. We are proud of our culture, traditions, food and language, and we are happy to share it with anyone who is interested in learning about it.
There’s a lot to explore in Austria, and I hope that I can provide you with some interesting information that inspires you to take the next plane to my beautiful home country!
See you around!