Thursday, October 18, 2012

A "Classic" Cross-Cultural Experience

So far, we've been here for a week and a half. Time flies! We've been spending most of our time acclimating to life here, by exploring different parts of the city, purchasing household goods, figuring out where to buy toiletries and certain kinds of food... things like that. We have also had to accomplish a few more "official" tasks like getting cell phones, visiting government offices and opening an Austrian Bank account. We are slowly whittling away at the list!

One of the tasks, however, has taken us much longer than expected. We went out earlier this week to obtain international driver's licenses and, let's just say, things didn't go as planned. Here are a few "highlights" from our adventure:
  • We found out that we could have done this at a AAA in the States (would have much been easier...but not as exciting!)
  • We tried to find the Austrian auto club and got lost because Google didn't know where it was
  • We found help at a Hilton Hotel and then walked half an hour in the rain to finally arrive at the auto club 
  • After all this, we came home empty handed! 
We filled out paperwork and communicated in broken German to the receptionist (successfully!) and at the end of the appointment, we were handed documents and told to visit another office to the get licenses. This is very Austrian - lots of paperwork, offices and bureaucracy.

The whole time, we maintained a positive attitude, mostly because it was exactly what we had been told to expect. The task took MUCH longer than we expected, we got lost, we had trouble communicating and in the end, we did not even accomplish our goal. A classic cross-cultural experience!

As we continue to cross the bridge from one culture to another through experiences like this, we hope we can continue to laugh and enjoy the adventure. We hope to continue finding the positive in these situations, like the fact that we were able to communicate with the receptionist or that we are now one step closer to  our goal. There is always a silver lining and out of every experience, we learn something new.

Photo credit: MetalliX from

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