Knowing that I will move abroad soon again has another side effect that I have experienced before, but that has become a bit blurry during the five years that I have lived in Vienna: Dealing with the question what Austria is, and even more what it means to me. Dealing with a question does not mean that I expect to develop a universal answer.
But the underlying process is important – also for practical reasons. Realizing what I appreciate here will be a starting point for my packing list. Reflecting on how I live here will be an orientation point to set priorities for settling in Mozambique. What is essential for me to feel good? What do I believe I need, but when I think again I realize I can easily do without? What would be best to get rid of?
And I will have to think what I want to take with me to share about my home country with my future co-workers, friends, neighbors. I remember that the first – and only time – I bought a picture book about Austria (that covered all the clichés “Almen, Habsburger, Kaffeehäuser”) was before I moved to France in 2004, and I used it excessively with my students, but also friends and colleagues.
In that sense, the timing of wonderful video by Peter Jablonowski and Thomas Pöcksteiner that is about to go viral couldn’t have been better for me. Applying amazing timelapse techniques and with symbolic sound effects that are just subtle enough not to come across as cheeply stereotyping, they offer a three minute journey through the entire country and everything that makes it beautiful and special. It is the perfect souvenir for me and the perfect introduction for locals interested in where I come from, and it doesn’t weigh.
As paradox as it sounds – going abroad means that I will become “an Austrian” again.