Debunking And Confirming Austrian Stereotypes

Every country has its own set of stereotypes: Americans are all fat, Germans love their beer, the French eat frogs, and the Spanish know how life is done right and take a lot of naps. The same applies to Austria, or at least when people know what Austria is it does. So I decided to set out and discover what those stereotypes are and if they are correct or incorrect.

This introduction neatly brings me to the first stereotype:



Austria? Did you mean Australia or Germany?  


Depending on who you have the pleasure with, Austria gets often mistakes for Australia or as a part of Germany - not in a literal sense. I have noticed that the mix up with Australia happens a lot to people in America who only know Europe as a big blob of Europe and very little of the smaller countries in the union. Thus, Austria gets mistaken for Australia. 

Meanwhile, Austria gets rarely mistaken for Germany itself but rather the citizens; culture and so on get credited to Germans. Thus, I had been told that the Dutch don't even have stereotypes for Austria because they think whatever we do is German anyway. 

If my passport is anything to go by, Austria is its own country with its own culture. Admittedly we share some parts with the Germans for example .... 

Lederhosen and Dirndl 


This is mostly shared with Bavaria and no other parts of Germany. The same way that it is less common in the East of Austria. Despite what popular culture is telling the world - side-eyes you, Sound of Music - a Dirndl and Lederhosen are not everyday dress. 

So no, you won't find people wearing it all the time. Dirndl and Lederhosen are fancy dress and as such only get worn at special occasions: weddings, important exams, and, yes, the Oktoberfest - which we nicked from the Germans - and Kirtag - don't ask me, I've never been. 


Binge Drinking


is something Austria is known for, and the answer is yes.

This can't be denied, it is teenage mentality to simply get drunk on weekends. And if you're working well, it doesn't hurt to drink a beer or two on Friday. It helps you relax and you socialize. Nobody is going to bat an eye ... In fact, Austria is number 3 for beer consumed per capita during a year. We are number 2 in the EU, only topped by our dear neighbours the Czech Republic.


Smoking 


is also something that has to be confirmed. It is very common in Austria and even if you are a non-smoker you don't have any hard feelings about someone who does. People just smoke, it is the way of life and their health so whatever.

However, since this year it became illegal to smoke in any restaurant which helped to reduce the overall consumption of cigarettes.


Lovers of Cake 


Since we are already on the topic of restaurants, let's talk food. And yes, cakes are f*cking great and delicious and we all love them.

This fondness of pastry goes so far that there are main dishes which are technically deserts but they are the main course - see: Palatschinken, and Buchterl.

Dog Poop Everywhere


I found this floating around the Internet and was actually shocked to find it because I can't fathom where it came from. Maybe that was before my time.

Nowadays you have to pick up your dog poo and discard it properly. There are even tiny trash bags available for free above the public bins - "a Sackerl für's Gackerl".

Maybe that was before my time, since I remember stepping into dog poop quite frequently in the very early years of my life. However, it certainly is not true anymore

Open Rudeness 


I am well aware that Austria, and especially Vienna, is know to be rude. After all Vienna had been voted third most unfriendliest city in the whole world. Compared to other cities, I often find myself being astonished by how open and friendly they all are - even Berlin, which is known to be Germany's most unfriendly city, appeared kind to me.

However, at the same time I would not exactly call it rudeness but rather simply minding your own business. There is literally no reason to start a conversation in the tube, train or even on the bus. So everyone just walks their own way and minds their own business unless you share some business.

So for example if you go to the same gym class as a stranger you can start a conversation with them and everyone is going to be kind. But hardly anyone is going to respond kindly if you randomly start a conversation in the tube.

Even so, I dare to say that this differs between places. Vienna is quite unfriendly and literally nobody was surprised about its place in the friendly cities vote - there is even a hilarious thread in German that shares funny but unfriendly stories. So the question "what is inside a nut croissant?" is going to be met with a response seen as unfriendly from the outside but on the other hand, it is literally the name ...

Outside of Vienna the alleged open rudeness is more "minding my own damn business", yes, random acts of kindness may appear a bit more frequent but don't expect anyone to randomly become your friend or answer all your questions about Austria.

So maybe it also depends on where you are standing. Since this is status quo for me, everyone outside of Austria appears very friendly or ultimately kind, and why is that person in the Stadtbahn smiling at us?!


Morbid Sense of Humour 


Fully agree. This humour can't be stopped by anything. It is often dark, self-deprecating, subtle, but also macabre. Not even serious topics such as death are safe from it. It is a way of life and coping. Sometimes it is spoken in such a dry tone that it can hardly be distinguished from serious sentences unless you are fine tuned to it. Even whole conversations can happen that are solely based on the Schmäh (this type of humour), in which both conversation partner know that the statements are always spoken with a twinkle in their eyes.

"I am considering taking up boxing lessons." - "oh yes, please do. Then I can finally hit you in the face."

"My family has a death rate of one every seven years. So we're taking bets who it'll be in two years."



Hopefully this provided to be an insightful article to explain a thing or two about Austrian stereotypes. Do you know any more? If so let me know!

If you are interested in more Austrian fun culture facts, then read "10 Things I Wish People Knew About Austria"

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