EVS Diary

Vienna

And the fact that Bratislava is at the border with two countries (Austria and Hungary) is a crazy idea in itself too. I mean, historically, States wanted their capital city to be protected from foreign attacks right ? But it’s convenient and fun to just go to another country so fast. And when you go to Austria from Bratislava, it’s another culture, another history, another language (with different roots), another architecture, another vision of the world that you notice immediately. And when I look back to history I am very happy that I got to live in Bratislava after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Because during Communism, thousands of people tried to get to Austria and got caught by border police and were jailed or killed. Now with Euro and Schengen area, you don’t have to show your documents nor change money. That’s quite a change from being killed to police not even caring that someone is crossing the border !

Something fun that happened to me in Vienna is that I wanted to speak Slovak in shops. Now saying D’akujem instead of Thank you is a reflex for me. So, does this mean that I am integrated in Slovakia ?! And actually, when can we say if someone is integrated or not ? What are the criterias ? To me integration seems very subjective. But I am pretty proud to elevate my small slovak language skills to reflexes !

Vienna, like Paris is an open air museum, full of palaces, with a very homogenous architecture made of beautiful white buildings. But the atmosphere is not as relaxed as in Bratislava. All this beauty is kinda overwhelming and intimadating. I think that any unknown city can be intimidating but some are more than others. And Vienna is VERY intimidating. Plus, coming from Slovakia, everything seems more expensive so more intimidating. It’s kind of a vicious circle.

It was strange because when I was there, I kept comparing Vienna to Bratislava, how the latest is calmer, greener to my eyes (but I read on my guidebook that Vienna is one of the cities in the world with the biggest proportion of green area per habitant, so it really depends on where your feet leads you), cheaper, more chaotic but I like it because chaos means life,… But at the end of my day in Vienna, I really liked it and I looked forward to come back. I used to like big fat cities where you are anonymous because there’re just too many people. But I’m very glad I live on the other side of the border, because there’s a certain quality of life in Bratislava that you can’t have in Vienna because of its size !

 

Claire Billon-Grand

Photo : Kosala Bandara Licence Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

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