Approximately five years ago I came to Austria for one semester with the concrete goal of developing a project in a small R&D company and writing my Master Thesis based on it. Since I hadn't done any exchange semester so far, these five months had also to embrace/include my first experience living abroad and all that comes along with it. It was not that easy to adapt considering that I was living in a small town deep in Innviertel (Altheim im Innkreis with around 4000 inhabitants) without speaking a word of German. Knowing English did not make things easier since most of the people could barely speak a couple of sentences. However, I somehow manage to integrate, succeed, enjoy what traditional Austria has to offer (such as beer fests!), travel and make a couple of good friends.
One thing is clear to me, those five months changed my life completely. Despite of living in a bigger town now and being engaged in a completely different company, I'm still here five years later and here to stay. As being part of the TGW Simulation team, I have the chance to work directly in client projects for all units as well as supporting the Solutions & Development department on developing new products and tools. This position gives me the opportunity to reach a wide range of different topics within the field of intralogistics and to exchange knowledge with several experienced colleagues TGW wide, which I consider a privilege.
Living in Austria for such a long time made me get to know the people and their habits quite well. I reckon I did a good job regarding my integration in the Austrian culture, however there are some small things or habits that I can't stand or get used to. Overtaking you on the supermarket when a new desk opens, shoes spread all around the main entrance of every house, wearing sandals at work and sweets as main dish are among them. On the other hand, there are some things that I definitely like such as speed at the supermarket's desk (if you ever go to a Portuguese supermarket don't forget to take a nice big package of patience with you), toilet separate from the bathroom (in my country it's always all in one), free Friday afternoons, the fact that most of the people are active and sports' oriented including older people and Weißbier!
Although for most of the foreigners the language seems to be the biggest handicap they find while living in this lovely country, it was never a big concern to me. The food was! Not that Austria cuisine is bad. Not at all. I find Austrian soups, sweets and most of the dishes quite delicious. But there is just not enough choice!!! In Portugal, besides the great variety of soups, sweets and meat dishes we also have a countless amount of fish and sea food dishes, sometimes even mixing both and still damn delicious! To give an idea of how diverse it can be we say that we have 365 cod recipes, one for each day of the year (which is probably true) and we are just talking about cod! (and the coffee… how I miss a good Espresso!)
"Diverse" is actually the best adjective to describe my country and its landscape. Like Austria, Portugal is a small country but its shape and geographical location give origin to a wide range of completely different sights. On the North there are beautiful green and rocky mountains, on the South yellow plains as far as the eye can see. The coastline is full of breathtaking cliffs and amazing beaches, while medieval castles and palaces are spread all over the country, not to mention the gorgeous islands of Azores and Madeira. And there are also lovely towns and cities full of culture and history such as Lisbon, Sintra, Coimbra, Guimarães, Óbidos, Évora and of course Porto! Sorry for the advertisement but as ambassador of Portugal in Austria I could not miss this opportunity. I highly recommend you to visit my country and I swear you won't regret it.
My mom, who's quite attached to me and my brother, is frequently asking me when am I coming back for real. And although I know I could also have a great life there together with my family and friends, a part of me doesn't let me go back yet. I guess life tricked me and the time I spent in this beautiful, well organized, stable and central country made me become a bit more Austrian than I was expecting. And to be honest, I don't mind.