Interview with Kornelia Epping
In my goal to support people with network, confidence, integration and languages, I interview expats on their journey abroad.
Their personal stories are filled with information and tips.
This month I take you to Austria. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to a very interesting and amazing business woman, Kornelia.
Original country: Germany
Expat countries: Netherland, France, Britain
Current country: Austria
Kornelia’s story in a nutshell:
‘’I moved to Austria in 1999 leaving behind 3 adult kids and my sisters and parents. Until then, I worked in Germany as a commercial employee in a forwarding agency. I grew up in my parents forwarding company and I enjoyed that business environment.
I moved in 1999 and it was meant to be for one year. I was curious about the challenge and fell in love with Vienna.’’
Biggest challenges: ‘’To become familiar with the straight hierarchy of the Austrian system. The best example is how keen everybody is with is academic title – which, with all my respect for some individual friends – in most cases is no sign for skills and knowledge….’’
Overcoming fear: ‘’Living in Austria, especially in Vienna means making your decision on your own point of view – nearly nobody is willing to be responsible for anything in general. Everybody is on his/her own. What I mean is that with interactions, it’s hard to find out what is right or wrong, because you won’t get any recommendation or information from others. You just do by trial and error. But if you end up wrong and think someone could have warned you and you complain, you can expect the answer: Well, you didn’t ask me exactly about this! – Believe me, until today, I get upset when I hear these words……’’
Working practices and benefits in your adopted country: ‘’The way they work here is so different to all other countries I was before: Britain, France, Netherlands, Italy….What I mean is, after my move to Austria, I first worked as a commercial employee in a Vienna forwarding agency. But what I never expected despite of my huge experience from all over Europe, nobody is willing to welcome you to their team, because you are ‘’the foreigner’’ German (Germans are those Viennese do not like at all among all the foreigners hereL). Nobody is willing to teach you the way they work here, or the way teams work here: because they think knowledge is their power and they never share power. In the end, after 1 year, I quit the job and changed the business to a bank, where I worked as an assistant to the board. It took me some years with changing jobs again and again until I finally made my decision to found my own business.’’
Where you find inspiration from: ‘’Today Vienna became a more international city and I feel inspired by all these young people from all over the world. They bring input into this town about how to do things different than usual, finding new ways and ideas.’’
What is your current business? ‘’I am the owner of a Relocation Management and Destination Service Provider.’’
Was it difficult to start your business? ‘’The hardest thing in Austria is that you have to know somebody who knows somebody….in order to be recommended and to find open doors. And that takes time.
How you stay motivated: by all those people I supported through the years and who give me the feedback: you are doing greatJ
Useful resources for expats: If you plan to stay in your host country longer than 2-3 years then get involved in local clubs and organizations.
What are your words of Wisdom? In the end, everything will work outJ
Final words or anything else you wish to share: Make local contacts and collect as much information about your local environment as possible. Learn about the local culture, rules and values as much as you can.
What was your first impression upon arrival? ‘’The people were very curious about me, wanted to know everything, and in the end, they used it against me. First I thought it was my fault…..but it is a common behaviour in Vienna.’’
Did you integrate and adjust smoothly with the locals? ‘’NO, sadly not. Especially for Germans it is very hard to adjust, because none of us expects this antipathy against Germans upon arrival.
Please tell us your important TIP(s) when moving to a new country: TIP#1: In general I recommend to watch first before you start commenting or talking. Take your time to watch the people around you and who they interact. You can find out what is ok and what isn’t, just by watching.
TIP#2: Stop comparing your home country with the host country. There is nothing better or worse, but rather different.
Follow the major rule: “If you want to be a Roman, do like the Romans do.’’JJ
Awesome TIPS Kornelia, Thank you so much!
Interviewed by Rachel Smets