3 Years and a dozen


I’ve lived in the Philippines my whole life and never experienced traveling out of the country. And the first time I did, it was to live with my mom, here in Salzburg, Austria. I couldn’t quite believe it. To be honest, I never dreamt of living in Europe. Visit, yes. But live? Never. And boy, do I wonder what was wrong with me for not being able to even just fantasize about it. Lol.


Before I left, I had to learn basic german language (A1 level) in Goethe Institut, Manila. It was a lot of fun, adding the fact that I get to meet new friends too. I mentally, physically, and spiritually prepared for my trip. I also braced myself to be culturally shocked. The first time I walked into the streets of Salzburg, my senses were pretty much heightened because I kept on observing everything that is new, or unusual to me.

Almost three years of living in Salzburg and these are some of the things that (actually, until now!) never cease to amaze me:

  •  Ever heard of the phrase “drive like a German”? I was so amazed how much german drivers observe road courtesy. If someone driving sees you approaching the pedestrian, they will stop to let you cross. Even if you’re meters away, or even if you’re still on the other side of the road, as soon as they see you walking on the pedestrian, they will let you cross. I had an experience just a few months ago where I was about to cross the street and the driver stopped right at the pedestrian lane, because maybe he wasn’t really paying attention. He rolled down his windows and apologized for not giving way to me. He was kind of embarrassed when I looked at him and told him it’s okay. Deep inside, I was the one embarrassed because he didn’t really need to do that. Haha! This is one of the things I don’t think I’ll get used to, anytime soon.
  •  As much as we Filipinos excuse ourselves or get shy around others when we blow our nose, it’s normal for people here. Blowing their noses – or even fart – when they’re eating is totally okay and not awkward for them. Although, I’ve heard that they have a problem with you burping. Don’t do it around them, unless you’re very comfortable with the person.
  •  In the Philippines, we have high regards to people with titles such as doctors, engineers, or lawyers. We also tend to call them with it. e.g. Doctor X. Engineer Y. While here, Herr is german for mister, and Frau is for Miss or Mrs. That is the highest that you can address a person. So, when you go to a doctor, you address him or her as Herr Doctor X, or Frau Doctor X.
  •  Beer at every meal of the day? Kein problem. Just as long as you also look into the eyes of your companion if they propose a “Prost” or toast.
  • Austrians value their time so when you are told to meet them at 16:00, please come on or before.
  • The surrounding here is beautifully clean. There is a trash can almost on every corner of every street that there will be no reason for you to litter.
  • Tap water (faucet water) or leitungswasser is clean. The first time I got to use the mall’s bathroom, I was surprised when someone came in and refilled her bottled water in the faucet. I was washing my hands so I was just quietly watching what she’s doing. She refilled it and drank it.OH, they do that here. I told myself. But then shrugged  it off, because even their public bathroom is clean and well maintained, anyway.
  • When going inside a building, or an office, always hold the door open if you know someone is behind you going to the same building. Even if that person’s still 5 meters away, hold the door open. Except, of course when that door is automatic. Lol.
  • Did I mention Germans are courteous? Entering a building, and seeing someone in the area, it’s always nice to smile, give a small nod, and say “Grüß Gott” as a form of greeting. Even in the grocery stores, boutiques, restaurants, or any offices, people will say “Grüß Gott” as a greeting, and “Auf Wiedersehen” or “Tschüss” as a parting dialogue. That is usually the case. But I’ve also went to visit a family friend in Saalfelden and it’s also different there. They don’t just do it on entering buildings or other premises. Even if you’re just at the sidewalk, you say Grüß Gott to every person you come across. (Which is really quite tiring for me.)
  • Always bring your own bag whenever you go grocery shopping. And say, grüß Gott and tschüss to the cashier when you pay, of course.
  • Never experienced this but my friend told me that if someone invites you for a dinner at a restaurant for his or her birthday, everyone pays for themselves.
  • 12 hours of work is 12 hours. No more, no less. Like in my case, I was in hospital duty and my shift’s almost over but a post-op patient just arrived. Basically, we should take her temperature and blood pressure, or give her any pain medications if she needs it as soon as she is back in her room. I was about to prepare the intravenous pain medication prescribed for her, (because she asked for it) but my senior told me to leave because she knew my shift is over. I insisted I could stay and help a bit and that it’s okay if I get off a couple of minutes late but she refused and told me that is not okay, my shift is over, and that I should go home. So I did.

Wow, I didn’t think I could reach a dozen. I made a mental checklist of these things and I only counted 4. Lol. I didn’t expect ideas will keep rushing in just as I am already typing! There you go. These are just some of my observations and experiences within my three years here. I know I still have a lot to learn and discover. And I can’t wait to tell you more about it if ever I’ve got new ones!


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