differences

Having been in Vienna for one and a half months (already?!?), here are some things that have struck me more than others:

Student ID and stickers. I’ve previously uploaded a picture of my old-school student ID in a previous post, but have not mentioned how else it is different. In the local Malaysian universities that I have been to – namely Sunway and UNMC – your student ID has a magnetic strip, and you use this same student ID for everything to do with the university like printing, library membership, etc. Here in Vienna, however, you need to collect different Pickerl (stickers) for different purposes (see the next point).

The student union (OeH) is very strong. There are a few Mensen (singular: Mensa – student cafeteria) around the city, and at each of these Mensa one can get a full meal with soup, main course and salad (komplettes Menü) for €5,70, and if you have a Mensapickerl you pay only €4,90. The OeH also organises lots of events and free workshops for students

Banking, or at least with Bank Austria.  its interior reminds me of Gringotts Wizarding Bank (those who read the Harry Potter series would know what I’m talking about)  – the problem now is…. How do I do online banking in German??!

Online banking aside, it’s difficult enough to do banking the traditional way. As much as I love how things are done here, I must say that banking is (much) more straightforward in Malaysia. See, in Malaysia you receive your ATM card and PIN code on the same day as you open your account. And here… you are asked to wait for up to one week for your card to arrive in the post (yes, via snail mail). Once you get your card (luckily mine took only 3 working days), you have to go to the bank to request for a PIN code.  The problem was that different people told me conflicting information, but a long story cut short I finally got my PIN three weeks later. Turns out that mine was hiding in the student branch and I shouldn’t have waited for it in the post as someone told me to. It was really frustrating, because what’s the use of having a bank card without being able to withdraw money?!

The teller who helped me open my account was very nice, though; she switched to English as soon as she could tell my German wasn’t very good.

Grocery shopping. Where should I start… it was a bombardment of the senses, to say the least. Foreign products in a foreign language, and temptations all around (so much good and cheap cheese!), made me spend at least a few minutes in each aisle at the supermarket. At each aisle I was deciphering what each product was, and which were more value for money… the first two times were the most stressful!

To add to the confusion, lots of them were labelled in Austrian German terms which I have not heard of, because in uni I’d learned German German. Let’s see…. Schlagobers instead of Schlagsahne (whipped cream), Paradeiser instead of Tomate (tomato), Erdäpdel instead of Kartoffel (potato), Schwammerl instead of Pilz (mushroom), and the list goes on!!! I kept having to whip out my smartphone to go online to check these words, because they don’t exist on my offline German-English dictionary…

All shops are closed on Sundays. Having been accustomed to the long opening hours in Malaysia, I found it a tad inconvenient at first to have to adjust my planning because you can’t buy a single thing on Sunday. Except at certain shops at certain train or underground stations. So you have be sure to have done your groceries on any other day before!

In a land of tall people, being ‘fun-sized’ in Vienna isn’t fun. 😦 At 153cm, I am of short-to-average height in Malaysia, and most of the time it’s fine being petite. Here in Vienna however, it is mostly annoying. There have been a few times in shops and supermarkets where I couldn’t reach something that everyone could reach, no matter how I tiptoe 😦 So I keep having to ask (in German) the person nearest to me to help me take it off the shelf.  But! On the bright side, it feels amazing to be able to fit into size XS and S clothing! 🙂 Whereas back home I could never fit into these sizes at local clothes shops.

Punctuality. To be 5 minutes early is to be on time. If for some reason you can’t make it on time, out of courtesy let.the.other.person.know. I’m sure “Malaysian time” will never be tolerated and this is a very, very good thing about here 🙂 It’s really nice when participants show up right on time – or even earlier – so you won’t be left wondering when they’ll show up or not!

Last but not least, coffee always comes with a small glass of water to cleanse your palate, and it has been served this way for a long long time. Awesome idea! There are some Austrian specialities that you can never get at Starbucks – Melange (my favourite!), Verlängerter, Kleiner/Großer Brauner, Einspänner……….. and for €1,00 you can get pretty decent Coffee-to-go (takeaway coffee)!

More to come as I explore this beautiful city… stay tuned! 🙂

PS. For coffee lovers and the curious mind:

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