Starting next Wednesday, I will spend ten days in Vienna (with two days in Budapest thrown in) completely on my own. I have been learning German (apparently) for about six or seven months, mostly with a private tutor. This will be my first trip to a German-speaking country, as well as my first attempt to use one of the languages I’m learning in the actual country with actual native speakers. I will not try to sound tough: I am downright nervous. I find German to be difficult, but I am definitely making progress. When my tutor speaks to me, she speaks fast and I’m able to keep up with listening (I get about 60% most times, sometimes more, sometimes less), though my speaking needs work. I am gobbling up as many words as I can.
I’ve done as much as I can until now. It’s time to throw myself into the pool and try to swim a little. It won’t help that I’ve been learning Hochdeutsch and that the Viennese speak a more Austrian German, but hey, the world’s imperfect. I have a feeling that I’m going to learn a whole lot on this trip, especially since I’ll be traveling alone and I can focus on acquiring vocabulary and getting a feel for Austrian culture and language.
Wish me luck! Any tips?
Good luck, Robert!
I was in your situation a couple of years ago when I traveled to Munich. I had much less German than you, my German conversations were very basic to say the least, but I had a great time anyway.
- Have a good time.
- Don’t expect to understand everything because you won’t.
- Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t understand everything.
- Have a good time.
Don, that’s exactly what I needed to hear! I should check my expectations at the door and just be pleased with the level of German I am at currently.
I should add that, like Steve’s trip to Prague, I am hoping that this 10-day immersion will activate at least some of my passive German.
Viel Spaß in Wien! Es soll eine tolle Stadt sein.
Have a nice time in Vienna. I like Vienna a lot. It is a really nice and beautiful city. You have to listen very carefully to get used to the Austrian accent. I’m a native German speaker but I have to listen carefully too if I speak to people in regions far away from where I live. Even if they speak something close to Standard German they’ll have a nice Austrian Accent.
Hi Robert (it’s kind of weird to write that since my name is Robert too;-)).
I’m sure you’ll be fine. Vienna is a great city and believe me, most people will have no problem whatsoever to understand your standard German. It may be a bit more challenging to understand Viennese people talking to each other but generally speaking you’ll be better off in a big city than in smaller rural areas where people tend to speak more often in dialect (even though you’ll hear some “hardcore” Viennese in the streets ;-)).
By the way, I live only a 3-hour train ride (there are direct trains going from Vienna straight to my small hometown in the south of Austria) away from Vienna. You are more than welcome to visit me. This could give you a chance to see another part of Austria. The area I live in is definitely worth a visit especially if the weather is nice.
You can contact me through my youtube site (sprachbegeistert) or via e-mail (my email should be visible to people that send me a friend request on lingq). I could also give you my phone number in case you need any help once you are in Austria.
Besides, we could try and meet up in Vienna on a weekend (during the week I’m very busy) though I can’t make any promises right now. It all depends on when you’d be free and if I’d be free then too. We’d just have to get into touch to figure out a time that is suitable for both of us.
Whatever you decide to do, just take it easy. You’ll meet many friendly and open-minded people and should you be unlucky enough to meet some rude guys just forget about them Ordinary people in the street are generally very friendly and helpful. The only people that I sometimes found a bit rude were bus drivers and ticket vendors at the train stations. But that is not a rule either, so don’t worry too much about it
Personally, I LOVE Vienna. Sure, you might say I’m biased since I’m Austrian myself but I truly think it is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. So, have fun and enjoy our Austrian German
P.S. And don’t worry, I’ll only speak German to you if we should meet.
Hey, I will be travelling in Bavaria with Matt (Matt92 on this site), maybe you’d like to meet us in Munich?
Otherwise, have a profitable stay in Austria!
@Veral There’s no hope for me if you have to listen carefully to Austrian speakers! But I’m going to have fun no matter what. I like how Austrians pronounce the “r.” I’ll report back on my experiences as soon as I talk to a native speaker.
@mikebond Thanks for the offer! While I’d love to visit Bavaria and Munich, I won’t be able to get to those parts during my stay. I have something of a structured schedule ahead of me, since I’m making quick sojourns to Budapest and Bratislava while staying in Vienna. Hopefully one day we’ll meet in Bavaria; I’d love to see it.
@lovelanguagesll Hey Robert, I appreciate your offer and your encouragement! As I said to another user, my time in Austria will be somewhat structured, since I’ll be visiting several places and also making trips into Hungary and Slovakia as well (on the weekends, as it happens). So I’m not sure my schedule, or yours for that matter, is conducive to a meet-up. That said, I can’t turn down the possibility! I’d like to have your contact info on hand in case I have any problems and in case we can both manage to meet.
You say that the Viennese will have no problems with my standard German. Well, first it must be I who must get over problems with my standard German!! While my ability to read and understand is getting better, my German speaking abilities are still very limited. This trip is not so much to make the leap into fluency as it is to kick off the process of activating some of my passive knowledge. I will be happy if I learn a bunch of new words and idioms while I’m there.
I think I will love Vienna too. Of course you’re biased, but who cares? I have a feeling I’ll meet many nice people; my biggest fear is running into a cute girl and forgetting every word of German and not being able to talk! Though I’m sure that will happen with ticket vendors too.
By the way, I’m a freelance journalist, so while I’m in Vienna, I will be attempting to gather material for a travel essay on the city. I’ll be trying my best to talk to locals, whether in German, English, or “Denglisch.” It will be an interesting trip no matter what.
I was coincidentally going to ask if you had tried to get accustomed to Austrian German beforehand.
Good luck all the same.
ad rwargas22: I totally understand. Don’t want to put any pressure on you but if you feel like it give me a call ;-). If you contact me through my youtube site or via my private e-mail I’ll give you my phone number.
If you are in Vienna, you HAVE TO go to the Naschmarkt. Yes, people will tell you it is touristy etc. but it is also the place where lots of Viennese people do their shopping for groceries. I’m talking about the food section not so much about the other part which is normally only open on Saturdays (the other part is some sort of flee market which might also be interesting but I prefer the food section). The Naschmarkt is like the Viennese version of a spice market in an Arabic country. You’ll find lots of Turkish vendors. It is a unique experience. Since it is a popular tourist place beware of pickpockets (though I never had any problem).
I’d recommend you have a meal at NENI’s when you are at the Naschmarkt. That is a restaurant owned by an Israeli/German couple. Their staff is international (Arabic, African, Eastern European, Viennese) and the food is delicious. They also have a restaurant in the city centre. It is a bit pricey but I really think it is worth a visit. The food is a mixture of Arab, Jewish and generally Mediterranean food - delicious.
There are lots of low-priced typical Viennese restaurants, we call them “Gasthof” or “Gaststätte”. The Viennese term is “Beisl” (the Germans would call it a “Kneipe”, though the atmosphere in a Beisl is different ;-).
These are plain but interesting places and the food is generally very good albeit a bit heavy on the stomach
With a good guide (I guess Lonely Planet would be a good choice) you’ll get to see many great places.
All the best to you
Good luck have a safe trip and return safe.
I’m curious to know how things went during your stay in Vienna Ich hoffe, du hast eine schöne Zeit in unserer Hauptstadt verbracht.