Big metropolitan cities such as Tokyo, London, New York or Shanghai are amazing places to visit, but how would it be to live and work there? A couple of years ago, London was calling for Georg Karabaczek, a former WU graduate. He followed the call and became Trade Commissioner and Commercial Counsellor at the Austrian Trade Commission. In this interview, the host of the Alumni Hub London talks about his experiences working abroad.
Which challenges did you face living and working abroad?
There are always two sides to a coin. It is wonderful to experience a new country and culture but of course it comes with a price; you have to work hard to retain contact with your family, friends and network at home. It is sometimes quite hard on relationships as new schools for your children and job opportunities for a partner can be a challenge.
Describe the people and the atmosphere of London!
The people here in this amazing city are extremely polite – and this makes life much easier. As an example, take the patience and politeness in queues. I do miss these attitudes when I am back home! The weather is indeed a main conversation topic. London weather is so interchangeable that you can live through four seasons during a single day, so there is indeed enough to talk about. But as with many things the reality is not as bad as the reputation!
Would you say that the living standards are higher than in Vienna?
As you know, Vienna is number one according to the Mercer study for quality of life so in that respect it is difficult to beat it. But the answer lies in the question of what you expect from “quality of life”. I love London as a vibrant, cosmopolitan city that is made up of many villages that have grown together. This makes an exciting place to live and explore. Luckily London also has lots of green space and quiet corners to relax.
Where do you see differences in the working attitude between Austria and Great Britain?
In London in general the pace of life and work is faster than in Vienna. On the other hand I see a big difference in a general attitude to time. This is because employer- employee relationships, as well as many other business ideas, will be more long term oriented in Austria than in UK. Job-hopping is much more frequent in UK than in Austria. As a consequence it is much more difficult to build up long term relationships in your business-network, as people change positions so much. On the other hand this quick pace also brings more flexibility, change and creativity.
What do you miss most about Vienna?
The bread! I also miss the idea of just sitting in a Viennese “Kaffeehaus” at a table and being served by a waiter – and not having to queue to get a cup of coffee…