Author Archives: Harriet Byrne

Cafes in Vienna

It seems like when you walk down a street on Vienna every other shop is a Café, but I’m not complaining! There’s a never-ending supply of café houses in Vienna so it feels like you could go to a different one every single time! My favourite place to go for coffee is Palmenhaus. It isn’t strictly speaking a coffee house, more like a restaurant, but it’s also fine to go just for coffee and cake. It’s inside a huge glass building filled with plants and all the table cloths are white, so it’s a really open bright room, and lots of green everywhere. Even just being inside makes me happy! They do amazing breakfast and I always go for fried eggs and bacon. In Vienna the yolks are always runny, which took some getting used to but now I quite like it. Since moving to Vienna, I always drink coffee, because I’ve had so many waiters get confused when I ask for tea with milk. I’ve had a lot of people put the tea bag in pure cold milk, pure warm milk, and I’ve even had a waiter who put the teabag in some foamed milk. That was really strange to me, coming from a country where we drink tea like it’s water.

Museums in Vienna

Vienna has a lot of museums, so you’re never short of entertainment, and many of the museums take more than one day to see everything! When I first arrived in Vienna the first thing I did was go to the Natural History Museum. It has some amazing stuff, but after the ground floor I was exhausted. The History of Austria Museum is only over the road at Heldenplatz. This museum is my favourite, as I knew nothing about Austria when I moved here beyond Mozart and The Sound of Music. I feel like you can learn so much in this museum, and I think the information is presented really nicely. It’s the one I always recommend to my friends when they visit. The Welt Museum is another really cool one, it has artefacts from so many places around the world, it’s a good place to practice learning German too as there wasn’t that much written in other languages. The Military History Museum houses the car that Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in, which I think is a really fascinating point in history. The first Sunday of every month entrance to the military museum is free! The next time there’s a rainy day I’m going to go to the Technical Museum, but in Vienna you never run out of museums to visit.

Trying to Master German

Learning the German language is really hard and super frustrating at times. I studied it at school for a few years and was always top of the class, though that’s partly because most people chose to study French instead. However constantly comparing myself to my classmates gave the false impression it was going to be relatively easy. After school I stopped studying German for 6 years while I did my upper school studies and then my bachelors. When I came to Vienna I had forgotten almost everything so had to begin again at A2.2. Learning isn’t perfectly linear, rather like a staircase, and when you’re stuck on a step it’s so demotivating. During these times I try to remind myself of two things; firstly, my goals, and why I wanted to learn German, focusing on this makes me feel like the frustration is worth it. Secondly, that there have been many other parts of German grammar that I never thought I would understand, and somehow without even noticing, I’ve managed to get to grips with it. These two things are what keep me going when I feel like there is no way on earth I’ll ever be able to speak this language! After only being in Austria 8 months I am pretty pleased with where I’m at now.

Dark

Aside from talking to natives, I find one of the best ways to increase my vocabulary is to read and watch TV in German. Generally, I try to read the news and watch videos on YouTube, but recently I discovered the series ‘Dark’ and it’s absolutely amazing. It was recommended on the ‘Easy German’ YouTube channel as being a good one for learners because the subtitles are so close to what the characters are saying. It’s sort of Sci-fi mixed with crime, I’m totally addicted! I can only watch it when I’m awake and full of energy though, because I have to concentrate so much to understand what’s happening. It’s way beyond my ability level so a normal 50-minute episode normally takes me an hour and a half to watch, but I feel like I would rather be watching something to difficult that is also interesting, than something in my ability level which is boring. When I watch it and I come across a new word, I write it down with the translation next to it, so I can slowly build a list of new words. There’s only one series of it on Netflix at the moment and I’m not yet sure what I’m going to watch next!

Au Pairing in Vienna

My name is Harriet, I’m an Au Pair in Vienna. I came to Austria to learn German because I really want to study here. I chose Austria rather than Germany because I’d heard so many good things about the quality of life here, and Au Pairs especially get treated really well here. Also, I love the Alps, my grandparents lived in Switzerland for 15 years while I was growing up and we would visit every summer holiday. I have fallen in love with this country, and Vienna especially. It’s so central in Europe and I’ve been lucky enough to visit Innsbruck, Salzburg, Rome, Bratislava and Valencia since being here. It’s the perfect city for anyone who likes to travel often. It’s also such a beautiful city, the architecture is so different to what we have at home in England. There are also so many beautiful green open spaces. I arrived in Vienna in early October, just as the weather began to get colder, so I’m excited to see what the summer brings!!!