It’s been almost a year since I have left the UK to move back to Austria, but living in a different country for almost 5 years changes you and your habits. So, here are 5 very “cliché” British things I still do in my day to day life in Vienna.
1. Say “Thank you” too often
Of course you thank people in Austria. It would be rude not to. However, we don’t tend to overuse “Danke” as the Brits do their “Thanks”, “Thank you”s and “Cheers”es. You pretty much can’t say “thanks” too often in the UK. Which is nice in an way but now that I’m not there anymore I find myself thanking people for things where I don’t need to thank them and it’s not expected of me. “Danke” still slips out a bit too often and makes the situation a bit strange – for example:
I signed for my neighbours parcel and when he came to pick it up, he thanked me. After handing the parcel over to him, we had a little chat. When we said our goodbyes he thanked me again, which led to me thanking him. As soon as I had said it, I realised, that it wasn’t me who should be thanking him and I got embarrassed. He just gave me a confused look, as he didn’t expect me to say that, after all, there’s no reason for me to do so.
2. Apologise too often
Very similar to 1. – you don’t tend to apologise as often in Austria as you do in the UK. In London, when someone bumps into you by accident, they apologise and you do to. Here, you only ever apologise when it’s actually your fault (and some people don’t even do that).
3. Order by asking a question
“Can I have a chocolate croissant, please?” might be the way to order my favourite pastry in the UK, but in Austria “Kann ich ein Schokocroissant haben, bitte?” already sounds super weird and like an English speaker who is in the process of learning German, but doesn’t really know how to use it correctly. In Austria you order like this “A chocolate croissant, please”. No need to ask for something – you’re ordering and paying after all.
Even while I’m ordering by asking a question, it get’s really awkward because it sounds strange as I say it and there’s no way to make it sound normal once you’ve started your sentence. It’s like I’m unable to speak my own native language properly. I usually end up stuttering and being embarrassed.
4. Getting nervous when people don’t queue correctly
The Brits have not just invented the art of queuing but are pretty much the only ones that have mastered it to perfection. And you know what – it totally makes sense, because queuing properly makes life so much easier. Everyone knows exactly when it’s their turn, no need to push and shove, just stay calm and wait until your time has come to be at the front of the queue.
Every time when I flew into Vienna and had to go through the passport control at the airport, I would get nervous, because there’s no civilised queuing but instead of a neat line, people are waiting just all over the place. Now, even when I’m at the bakery, I get anxious because there’s no queue, people are just standing everywhere and the employee has to remember who walked in first – and if they can’t and are about to take the wrong persons order, you have to speak up. I hate it. Queues make life easier and relaxed.
5. Using English sentence structures and wordings
This is the weirdest one to me. When I lived in the UK, all of my jobs were “German speaking”, so I used my native language every single day. Now that I’m back in Vienna, I find myself using English sentence structures but in German. Again, it sounds like I’m an English speaker learning German and not a native German speaker.
The worst thing for me is, that this never ever happened to me in the UK and now, 9 months after leaving the UK for Vienna, I still make those mistakes and sound like a complete idiot.
Brits are just the friendliest people ever, Austrians are not. Adapting to the Viennese way of life is a lot more difficult than expected – and maybe that’s good, because I don’t want to be a grumpy asshole.
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