Vienna is very international city and home to people from the entire world. They came with many expectations and lived their cultural shock upon arrival, both in positive and negative way.
For this article, I asked 15 Mexicans living in Vienna how are they enjoying living here.
Mexicans expectations about Europe
Typical Mexicans imagine, that Europe equals Paris, Germany or Italy. They think about well working, organised continent full of tall, blond people. And although they fear the cold climate, the rich history and culture makes up for it.
How about Vienna?
Did you know, there are some important parallels between the history of Mexico and Austria? The archduke, later Mexican emperor, Maximillian of Habsburg was imposed to the throne against the conservatives lead by Benito Juarez, in the second half of the 19th century. No wonder that Maximillian is a name that every Mexican knows since the early age from school. Needless to say, before being confronted with the Austrian point of view, their perception is rather negative.
Apart from this, many Mexicans think about Mozart on the first place and music and culture in general.
Food and drink challenge
Something I was curious about, was the opinion on food. I have already heard stories about Mexican expats that returned to their homeland simply because they missed their food so much. My friend Victor rents a piece of land outside Vienna to grow his own variety of mais (corn), and from the flour he is able to prepare authentic tortillas, that he cannot live without.
Apparently, Mexican cuisine is something so complex, spicy and rich, that I wondered, if the Austrian cuisine can satisfy the local Mexicans in any way. Well, the answers about favourite dish were not very excited, to be honest, but among the “recommendable” ones appeared for example potato salad, Schnitzel, Leberkäse or Käsekrainer. Some liked also apple strudel or Sacher cake, for others the latter was way too sweet.
Beer and cheese
Many Mexicans, before moving here, associated Vienna with beer and sausages. But while majority really enjoys the local beer, for some, the sausages were rather disappointment. But returning to beer, it is not only the Austrian brands that are popular. Also the excellent and affordable brands from the neighbours Czech Republic and Germany make the Mexican expats happy.
To my surprise, some Mexicans rave about the variety of cheeses, that are available in Austria as well as all over Europe. Apparently, it is not so common to have such a variety of cheeses in Mexico.
Comparing coffee cultures
Half of the Mexicans from my questionnaire thinks that drinking coffee in Vienna is very different from their country. We all know, how proud are the Viennese on their café culture. But it is surprising that Mexico, a country that grows a lot of coffee beans, did not develop such a ritual to drink it like it did in Austria. Meanwhile in Mexico is frequent to drink the American-style coffee for breakfast, in Austria exists bigger variety and it is served mostly in the afternoon and accompanied by a cake.
Finding a bargain
It is no surprise that many Mexicans came to Vienna for work, because the average salaries here are 6 to 10 times higher. But so are the costs of living. I was wondering, if there is anything cheaper here than in Mexico.
The first position gained the public transport, because the service for the paid price is extraordinary, so say the local Mexicans. Also, internet and electronics are cheaper on many occasions.
While fresh fruits and vegetables are extremely expensive and not of big variability for Mexican standards, products like chocolate brands Milka, Ritter Sport or Haribo brands are well worth buying here, because the price and quality in Mexico is much worse.
We all heard the cliché that Latin Americans are always late while in Europe everything is punctual. What do the Mexicans say? Many of them admitted, they had to learn to be on time, which in Austria means 5 min before the agreed time. But it was not too hard.
An area, where the Mexicans indeed had to adjust was the opening hours of the restaurants and the dinners times. In Mexico, as you have probably guessed already, everything starts and finishes much later.
Mexican moms rave about the abundance of parks and playgrounds and it certainly feels a bit strange at first to be able to leave the kids just running around without having to worry about their safety.
For Mexicans, the hygiene and aesthetic standards are high and so many were shocked to find local people sometimes way too informally dressed, smelling sweaty and woman less feminine.
Meeting the locals
And last but not least, the interaction with locals was another cultural shock at the beginning. Mexicans are very respectful and diplomatic when they express their opinions or ask questions. The Austrians, on the other hand, can be often unpleasantly direct!
Some confessed to me, they were not taken so seriously by the locals, until they explained they came to study their master or doctor degree. Others were confronted with stereotypes such as the emphasis on trade with narcotic or placing their country wrong in the south America. FYI: Mexico is in North America. 🙂 But overall: they think, Austrians – although very direct – are very polite people!
Hope you enjoyed reading this article and other nationalities will follow soon!