Life as an expatriate mum in Austria is often not that easy. Every day you are confronted with new challenges: Administrative procedures, which you can only do in German, because people refuse to speak English, shopping in German, communication with your fellow men, etc. All these things are natural and ordinary for the locals, but for you as an expat mom these basics are a nightmare.
Here are a few typical fears that every expat mom in Austria suffers from:
Austria has a great healthcare system and all of its residents are entitled to free medical care. However, it can be very daunting for a foreign mother when they are dealing with a sick child, or they have an illness themselves.
Having a sick child is a worrying time in any country, but when you don’t speak the language and you’re not a native of the country you’re living in, it can be even more scary. The fear is that because of the language barrier, you may not understand what the doctors and nurses are saying, and you may also not be able to communicate what the actual problem is.
The medical staff, including receptionists, doctors and emergency call handlers, may also not wish to speak English to you.
Also, it could be that, because you are technically a foreigner in the country, you and your child might not get medical care that is on a par with the care that an Austrian would receive. Austria provide free health care and the doctors would not discriminate against you or your child.
The School System:
Understanding the Austrian school system when it’s in a whole different language could be a nightmare. In the first place, you need to know when and how to apply for a school place for your child. Filling those forms out and asking for additional information on the phone, or in person, won’t be easy at all.
Once your child is in school, the problems might not end there. You will regularly have to converse with teachers at parent evenings, when the language barrier will again be a problem. Your child may also be slightly embarrassed of your accent, or that you can’t speak German.
Another fear is that your social circle will completely change in Austria and you won’t have as many people to rely on for help. Plus your child might be lonely and more isolated.
Also, if you have an Austrian husband and a divorce occurs, the father may be favoured when it comes to a settlement and possibly the custody of your child – but in reality this won’t be the case.
I think the one or the other fear has come up in you at one time or another. Please don’t be so hard on yourself here, because fears are quite normal.
Are you tired of feeling insecure and stressed in everyday life when others speak German? To make the start a bit easier for you I have created a workbook with lots of love.
Get this Workbook on how to shop in German for € 0,- now and start speaking German with ease and joy today!
But if you want to make your everyday life a little more relaxed, here are my 3 ultimative tips on how you can communicate more easily in German. As an experienced and certified German teacher, I know exactly what you need to help you cope better with everyday life in German.
1. Try to form short and simple sentences.
Many of my clients find this very difficult: we are all adults and can express ourselves very eloquently in our mother tongue. If you now think about how you would answer in your mother tongue and want to translate that 1:1 into German, unfortunately this will only fail and end in chaos. Therefore always answer in short sentences. That way you make fewer mistakes and at the same time have a great sense of achievement when you have mastered your first conversation in German.
2. Always use fixed phrases.
If you always use the same phrases in certain situations, you will feel safer and you will not get so nervous when you are supposed to speak in German. You don’t have to think so much because the structures always remain the same and you can speak in German immediately.
3. Do not be afraid of making mistakes.
Unfortunately, we are already taught at school that mistakes are something bad. Something that you absolutely have to avoid. But I always tell my customers: please make as many mistakes as possible! This may sound completely crazy to you, but a mistake is actually a positive thing. A mistake shows you what you can’t do yet and what you still need to work on. So if you want to speak proper German make as many mistakes as possible! And honestly: even if the sentence is not 100% correct, people will still understand you 😉
About the author Nina Rottmann:
Nina studied educational sciences at the University of Vienna and is a certified DaF/ DaZ trainer with many years of teaching experience. In 2018, she founded “Deutsch mit Nina”, an online language school for expatriate women.
She teaches at the UNO as well as the Language Centre of the University of Vienna and currently also has a teaching position at the Schloss Krumbach International School.