Abroad in Mainz | Servus Vienna!

Studium, Internationales

Lona is from Shenzhen in China and is an exchange student in Mainz for one year. In her new blog post, she writes about her summer holiday in Vienna.

This was my very first summer vacation during my stay in Germany. On the one hand, I would have liked to fly back home and spend my holiday in China. But on the other hand, being in Europe offers such a rare opportunity to practice my independence and to expand my horizon. Although homesickness is unavoidable, I eventually decided to stay in Europe.

I always dreamed of visiting Vienna. I used to play the violin when I was a child and from then on I was obsessed with everything about Vienna. My interest for Vienna is actually the main reason I started learning German.  I finally got the chance to visit Vienna this summer. I spent all of August in Austria, which was a fantastic experience. During my stay I noticed several interesting differences between Germany in Austria.

The accent

In both Germany and Austria, the official language is German. But for learners of German it is quite a challenge to understand the accent in Vienna. At the beginning, I was worried about being able to communicate properly in Vienna. When I took the train from Mainz, everything was fine – until the train passed Passau, which is right at the border of Germany and Austria. The announcement on the train from Passau to Vienna completely confused me. I was definitely not prepared to face the accent. 

After a month of living in Vienna, I was able to figure out some rules of the accent. Firstly, the letter C and T are pronounced like the German letters Z and D. For example, "Torte" (cake) is pronounced like "Dorte". Secondly, there are some special names for some things. For instance, "Kartoffeln" (potatoes) is "Erdapfel" and "Straßenbahn" is "Bim". Third: the greeting. In Mainz, I say "Guten Tag", but in Vienna I have to change it to "Grüß Gott" or "Servus".   These greetings are actually also common in Southern Germany. And lastly, the intonation. The difference is not that obvious, but I noticed that the intonation in Viennese German includes more ups and downs, and has more variation than standard German.

The food

Vienna is famous for its sweet desserts such as Sachertorte, Kaiserschmarren and Apfelstrudel. Sachertorte is a chocolate cake with jam, which was invented by Franz Sacher. Every day the tourists queue to get into the Sacher Hotel where they can try this well-known cake. Kaiserschmarren is more common among the Viennese families, because it is easy to make. It is a shredded pancake, which is named after the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph. It is usually served with different types of jam, such as strawberry, blueberry or mandarin. They also sprinkle sugar on top of the pancake, so it tastes sweet and sour at the same time, which is amazing!

As opposed to the way schnitzel is prepared in Germany, schnitzel is served without sauce in Vienna. Instead they usually have it with potato salad and one piece of lemon. . Sometimes it was a little bit dry without any sauce, but this way, it was easier to enjoy the original taste of the meat itself. 

"If I'm not in the café, then I may be on the way there", the famous Austrian writer and poet Peter Altenberg once said. The Viennese café culture is unique in the world. Many writers sought their inspiration here and created a good deal of literature. . As for the coffee, "Wiener Melange" (Viennese Blend) is a typical representative. It is similar to Cappuccino. The classic Viennese Café is full of vintage style decorations with old pool tables and all kinds of newspapers. Some customers just order a cup of coffee and then sit there all day reading the newspaper or chatting to each other. 

The sights

The language institute where I took my German course is located right in the city centre. I took the tram across the centre every day to go to school. En route there are parks, the Opera Theater, the City Hall, the Hofburg Palace and St. Stephen's Cathedral. Tourists gather around the old town area all day. I loved the atmosphere there. Although it is crowded all the time, I loved everything, from the gorgeous palace to the little delicate streets. 

I'm very fond of the movie Before Sunrise. It is about the love story between an American named Jesse and a French girl named Celine. They meet on the train to Vienna and spend a wonderful day in the city. I tried to visit all the spots I knew from the film while I was in Vienna. Thus, I visited many places that weren't so crowded, but more quiet and more Viennese style. The café house I mentioned earlier was one of them. I was even able to find a CD shop I had seen in the film and have a chat with the owner. He was such a warm-hearted man. We talked a lot about the movie and the scene his shop appeared in. It was interesting to have a discussion with a local. It taught me more about the story behind the film and this shop. 

What previously seemed just a pale image became alive with vivid emotion. The Albertina was another stop on my spot-finding-journey. It is an art museum, whose symbol is a sculpture of Albrecht Dürer's Hare, which is displayed in multiple spots inside and outside the museum. The Albertina square is an excellent position from which you can see the opera theatre and other Viennese sights. Occasionally, when I passed the city centre, I would go up to this square to enjoy the view and think about the dialogues in Before Sunrise.

Vienna is not only famous for its architecture, but also for the natural scenery. The Vienna Woods are great for hiking or relaxing. After taking the bus to the top of the mountain, we took a walk through the forest. The weather was lovely and the panorama of the whole Donau River was fantastic! The water was sparkling and shining in blue. There are also some wineries in the forest. where we drank cups of wine, breathed in the fresh air and totally immersed ourselves in the natural atmosphere. If you get tired of the stress living in the city, I strongly recommend to visit the Vienna Woods.

My experience

If you get the chance to stay in Vienna for a longer period of time, I recommend discovering every little corner of the city. Compared to the tourist routes, I prefer to slow down and take my time exploring the city. Many surprises are hiding just around the next corner. Changing the city and living in Vienna for one month was an unforgettable experience.

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