RUSSIANS IN THE WORLD: Austria, Vienna. Gulnara

Gayanat: Tell us, please, how did you happen to be in Austria?  
We moved to Vienna in March, 2012. My husband was offered to work here. I was on maternity leave. So, in this case our emigration was painless.
To be honest, I didn’t want to leave Russia. I had never imagined myself living abroad constantly. My curiosity, my husband’s reluctance to stay in Moscow, absence of commitments at work gained on the upper hand and we all happened to be in the unfamiliar city ready to adventures and new life. 

Gayanat: Was the integration process in Austrian society easy for you?
First six months were not exemplary in terms of adapting. Two kids (the elder daughter wasn’t even three, the younger one was 10 months). There was no any external help, I was focused on arrangement of living: the flat wasn’t furnished at all, so I had to buy everything and that occupied almost all of my time. Nevertheless, I looked around, formed an opinion about local people, felt the energy and pace of the city, got first contacts here... Then summer came and we went back to Russia to my parents’ place for 3 months. So, the real integration period started later, it started smoothly and without stresses. Perhaps, if I hadn’t family and kids, I would have described my situation with other words using the word “loneliness”. I have never felt the slightest degree of negative feelings this and next periods. Moreover, I was happy to meet (almost immediately) two people that (in some sense) affected course of my life here. First person became my close friend, the second one became my professional partner.

Gayanat: How can you describe nature of Austrians and, to your mind, what is the difference in our mentalities?
I don’t like generalizing and talking about nature of people in general. It seems to me, that in this topic I won’t be the best interlocutor, as there is only 1 Austrian couple among my friends and that is because our children are friends. Vienna is so cosmopolitan, it has gathered so many cultures, that our surrounding consists of “multi-cultural” persons, and the majority are Russian-spoken people. I don’t try to be integrated completely into Austrian society, I don’t aim at understanding Austrian mentality and accepting it, I am not searching any deep connections and friendship here. Maybe, my poor German is the reason that creates extra obstacle. Anyway, my superficial contacts with Austrians are very positive, they are very polite, calm, punctual, responsible and etc.  Their qualities that are criticized (coldness, prudence, law-abidance) don’t irritate me.

Gayanat: Your husband is French, that is why the issue of combination of mentalities is not new for you. Your children have absorbed 3 different mentalities: Russian, French and Austrian. According to your personal observations, it is easy for them to interact with local children?
Everything is easy for kids. At first, I was really worried about that. They are bilingual since birth and they take other bilingual kids as for granted. I am very happy that my children have chance to feel the variety of the world, to see different languages and cultures, and for them this is not just a theory, this is everyday life. There are many Russian-spoken kids in our kinder garden, there are also 2 French, one boy from Slovakia, Polish kids, Bosnian, Turkish and Hungarian. They all speak their national languages and for me as for linguist listening to it is a great pleasure. They all are connected through German language. My children have learnt this language so quickly (I even still can’t believe that) and they nicely communicate with other kids.


Gayanat: What is you occupation in Vienna?
I am co-owner of the private Russian-German kinder garden "KinderAkademie UMKA". It has been existing till renaiming, but was ordinary constitution, where (it is a rule here) one  kindergartener works with 14 kids. This person also has to cook and clean the kinder garden. My partner and me have included new concept (firstly, it concerned Russian language), improved all work in terms of methodic aspect, interaction with stuff, we did proper marketing, we made website. I can say only one thing: I love my job! This is my first experience of personal business: sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes we exaggerate, overwork, get tired.., but working with kids and for kids is the best thing ever happened to me. We have a great team here and great plans for the future. 
Apart from kinder garden, I have arranged extra classes for kids at weekends: music classes, yoga for children and creative workshops. Yet this project is for Russian-spoken kids, but we are thinking on making it for all wishing people.

Gayanat: Why did you arrange double language kinder garden? Is it connected with attempt to find common ground of two mentalities? How do kids from different cultures interact with each other?
You see, the choice of this type was connected with more prosaic reasons. Before our management, Russian-spoken kindergartener had already been working and there were 2-3 kids speaking Russian (apart from my daughters). So that was natural to include Russian language and offer for parents as a painless and comfortable way of adapting children into Austrian society. I mentioned before that here are kids from all over the world and they interact nicely with each other. At least, there are no any religious, national, racial discrimination here. I would like to note that Russian language here is for Russians, we dont teach Russian other kids. Main language is German.

Gayanat: How favorable are conditions in Austria in terms of employment for people from other countries, how do you think?
I didn’t get into details in terms of this issue. In general I think that conditions are favorable, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many students. Business environment is also full of expatriots. I think that it should be analyzed according profession. 

Gayanat: Do you like Austria or you want to move to another place in the future? Maybe you want to get back to Russia?
When my mom came here she got surprised and said: «How can you live in this steady and braked pace?». My husband dislikes this country and local people, as he has some complaints towards Napoleon (I wan’t go into details). I moved here without any prejudices with a positive attitude and desire to apply this experience on 100%. I like this period of life right now. And I like this calmness and regularity, and absence of stress and esthetic everyday pleasure from life in the most beautiful city of the world.
I would like to add one more comment: I won’t stay here, as I know that I don’t have any passion or any personal connection with this city and country.

Gayanat: And our traditional question: are you happy? And what is happiness, to your mind?
Definitely yes! I have never appreciated these phrases "right here, right now". And realization of this is a synonym to happiness, as it means a lot. But this topic is very private...