Living in Vienna

Columns | Peter Diller | November 2008

Sitting in the open window of my lack-luster apartment in the 17th District of Vienna, smoking a cigarette, I began to reflect on the events of the past year. I had just turned 18 when I moved to London from the heartland of America to attend my first year of University.

My severe apprehensions about my decision to drastically change my location were quickly wiped away after a visit to a pub on my first night. Who knew a few pints could do so much? My initial intention was to major in International Relations; my second, to change the world.

After several blurry months of London’s famous nightlife and a course on the politics of development, I reemerged, as a Management Major who had champagne tastes on a (secret) beer budget. Money had never been a concern. Not that I was wealthy or even that I exactly had a viable income. But I seemed to have the means (and generally speaking, the charm) to allow me to make a scene and get away with it. Night after night.

Needless to say things gradually went sour. After the first year, most of my companions had abandoned ship and swum back to America and I was left alone, in a city I thought I knew. In reality, I only knew the world that my friends and I had created, a world with no limits and no repercussions. This new London was a hostile world filled with unfamiliar faces; and the ghosts of late nights and weird mornings. I needed out.

Blindly I directed myself towards Webster London’s sister school in Vienna. I knew nothing of the Austrian capital, but the idea of a fresh start and a new perception (not to mention a better exchange rate) was all I needed.

In this new place, I began to reconstruct my reality on the frame of this mellow city. I realized I was finding once again a self I thought I had lost in the first transitions into adulthood and the shambles of life in London. So I snuffed out my cigarette on the façade of my communist-era "dream house."

What an opening act, I thought.

Other articles from this issue