10 January 2009

Things I've learned living abroad...

Random thoughts by Karen, with a few by Chris (first commenter to guess who wrote each wins some Viennese chocolates!)

Europeans are very snobbish toward McDonalds, as they should be, with the exception of the fact that they LOVE McDonalds and eat there all the time. When confronted with this they reply, "Austrian McDonalds is better than American McDonalds because they use Austrian ingredients." It's actually a big marketing campaign of McD here to get Austrians to like eating their junk by buying and proudly telling everyone in Austria that McD uses Austrian ingredients. So all the Europeans insist that McD in America "tastes terrible" while McD in Austria tastes better. While normal Americans find that it all tastes equally yucky, but sickly satisfying.

Yogurt here is not a diet food, as it is all made with full fat jogurt and tastes fantastic.

Conversely, don't ever trust an Iranian that tells you to get the Jogurt drink with your lamb kebab. Because sad experience tells Chris that jogurt drink has nothing but the following in the ingredient list: full fat plain jogurt, salt, water (in that order). Uck.

Kebabs are tasty. But Viennese people think they are unsanitary because the meat sits there for several days or maybe a week. But they cover it up with lots of spices. So its all good.

Iranian pistachios are not green like the ones from California. They are red and have a lot more salt.

Austrians never quickly unplug a USB stick or cable, they always meticulously right click and select "Safely remove hardware." As they should, but who actually does that?!?

Before we came an Austrian told me that "Austrian bureaucrats get turned on by official stamps and seals." I have learned that he is right.

Never eat mango in Europe because it comes from Turkey and Turkey has a lot of arsenic in the soil and supposedly their mangos are lethal in high concentrations.

Vienna is a smaller city than I thought... when we rented a car, it turns out you can get across the city in about a half hour, and on public transportation it takes an hour.

The funny thing about public transportation, is it will always take you the same amount of time to get places no matter how much traffic there is... it makes me feel less stressed about traveling, because I always know what time I will get there.

When you fill your grocery cart to the top with food at the store, the cashier looks at you like you are INSANE!

When you have kids and no car, you start to cart your life around with you in the stroller...

When you are only allowed to use the washing machine once a week, you always make sure you get your laundry done on laundry day.

When the Dollar is down against the Euro, you wisely save and spend every Euro cent. And even stop to pick them up off the ground.

Coincidentally, Austrians love complaining about and discussing all forms of currency valuation and their various trade rates as a part of every day conversation like Americans talk about the weather.

Yes, you do get used to walking up two flights of stairs carrying kids every time you get home.

Putting yogurt or baby food in your purse is never a good idea.

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