3 things you should know before coming to Austria

I visited Austria for the first time 3 years ago, it was a great trip and I fell in love with this country so much that I decided definitely to return back not just as a tourist, but as a student and plunge into this life entirely. So it really happened! A year later, I entered an international master’s program and now I am here again.

Austria impressed me from the very beginning, but as a traveler I could only observe it from the “outside”. The second time I came here to study and live, of course, I discovered a lot of new things, something that you probably will not find out in just a couple of days of vacation. I would like to share my insides with you. In my opinion, when you know these cultural features in advance you will be able to manage your plans easier and to make the first few days of your stay more pleasant and feel more confident in this foreign country. Here is my list of “3 things you should know before coming to Austria”:

1. “Magic Sunday” and unusual opening hours
Sunday is a magic day. ;-) All shops, shopping centers, banks, administrative buildings and organizations are closed. As I have been travelling a lot in Europe since my childhood, I heard about this fact but actually, I have never paid too much attention to it, as I did not have to deal with practical everyday issues as a tourist. It was a little bit unusual for me that you need to exclude Sunday from shopping days.
Where does this tradition come from?
It is supposed, that any family should spend Sunday together meeting with relatives and friends. All purchases and trips to the stores should be made in advance. Likewise, many Austrians I know are very passionate about a healthy and active lifestyle, on Sundays you can often see whole families go hiking or do other outdoor activities.

Moreover, limited opening hours are present even during work days. For example, all food stores, shopping centers and supermarkets close around 7-8 p.m., pharmacies around 5-6 p.m., banks

at around 3 p.m. However, all the places open at 7-8 a.m. These working hours were a real discovery for me because in my country all shops work every day from the morning till late evening.  So here, it is crucial to plan your errands ahead. When I moved to Austria, I experienced it myself and I learnt to plan everything a little different.

2. Cash in your pockets

do not remember the last time I used cash in my native country Russia. While in Austria, in some places it is still simply impossible to pay with card. Some cafes, restaurants, small shops and markets accept payment in cash only. If you want to buy a ticket in the bus (especially here in Leoben), you need cash. My advice is to have some amount of cash with you every time in order not to spend additional time looking for an ATM and money withdrawal.

3. German is unique in Austria
It is a well-known fact that Austria is a German-speaking country, but do not forget that German has plenty of dialects and Austrian dialects have a place to be.

I learnt German before I arrived in Austria and was confident about speaking it. However, at the beginning I could not understand what people said to me in shops, cafes or in the bank, even though I felt quite fluent with the language before. It really takes time to get used to Austrian German. So you need to be confident and don’t be afraid to ask again. But remember, your key tool - English, which is with you every time and can save you from embarrassing situations.

However, these words you will meet in any way

Grüß Gott! / Hallo! / Servus! – Hi! / Hello!

Tschüss! / Tschau! – Bye! / Goodbye!

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