Having never traveled out of the country before, I was both extremely nervous and excited to not only experience a new culture but also to consult for a global company. I arrived at the airport ready for my 10 hour flight not knowing what to expect when I arrived in Vienna. I read, and re-read, all of the information I had acquired on doing business and interacting in Austria to try and prepare myself for the next month.
The first couple days were filled with lots of exploration and games to become familiar with the city and learn how to navigate around it. After three days of nonstop walking, and a few delayed flights for one of our group members, we all gathered the night before our first day of work to compile a list of questions we had about our project and discuss everything we learned on conducting business in Austria.
Previously, I had worked as a data entry specialist for an ambulance company, so I already had some office experience. However, the other girls in my group were new to the scene. We went in for our first day at Andritz ready for it to be a completely different environment than we would see in America, but what we received was something else.
Apparently, no matter where you are in the world, business is business. Professionals dress the same, act the same, interact the same, react the same, and the only difference is the language that is spoken. We fell into a rhythm at Andritz and became comfortable with our surroundings almost instantly. We came in every day, walked straight to our conference room, and continued our market research. It was easy to schedule appointments to speak with others in the office and everyone was eager to help us if we needed anything.
Our research into business etiquette of Austria was almost all wrong. We read that the people were not very friendly, blunt, strict, and workaholics. In contrast, the people at Andritz were very welcoming, friendly, and not quite as blunt as we thought they would be. While they do seem to love working, they also understand that there is life outside of work and will take time off or leave early to have some fun. I found it is best not to rely 100% on the stereotypes of countries and to just experience them myself!
The differences between Austria and the United States was more prevalent when out and about around town. As college students, we are used to very casual dress. To class, many girls wear leggings or yoga pants and boys wear sweatpants or shorts. In Vienna, there were very few people who dressed that way. They definitely were more fashion conscious and spent more time on their appearance.
If I had the choice, I would absolutely go back to Vienna to work or even just to visit. I loved everything about the city. The buildings were beautiful, there was history at every corner, and the people were just as friendly as they are here in America. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the business environment is not much different than it is here in America. The biggest difference between Austria and America was the way everyone dresses, and it was actually pretty nice being in a place where everyone dresses nice.