Coaching Your Way Out of the Pandemic: Why Now Is the Best Time to Jump-Start Your Life

• The pandemic has had a massive effect on people’s mental health worldwide
• Coaching can help get you back on track and focus on your goals
• Dilek Süzal is ready to help and has a special deal for Metropolitans

If the pandemic has affected your mental health and made you feel helpless, you’re not alone. Studies have shown that symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder have quadrupled in adults over the past year and a half. Symptoms often include difficulty concentrating and making decisions, feelings of numbness and frustration as well as changes in energy, desires and interests. Fortunately, there are trained professionals who can help you out of your pandemic funk.

One such person is Dilek Süzal, a Vienna-based personal and professional development coach from Austria with Turkish roots who’s turned her passion for helping others discover and actualize their potential into a flourishing career. A Metropolitan herself, she turned to Metropole to share how coaching can get you back on track and achieve your goals.

Coaching Vs. Therapy

Unlike therapy, where healthcare professionals analyze a patients’ past in order to understand present behavior and help them recover from trauma, coaches help their clients navigate problem areas in their lives, providing them with the tools to work toward specific goals.

Coaching sessions are judgment-free safe spaces and offer a pathway to achieving future goals by identifying problems, devising solutions and setting achievable targets. The coach follows structured processes to guide clients toward their ultimate goal, like a friendly companion illuminating the path forward.

Meet Dilek Süzal

Over her two-decade long career as an architect, this proud mother of two was committed to helping others build their ideal physical environment. But over time, she began to wonder what was behind the façade and started digging deeper … starting with herself. “I’ve been on both ends of a coaching session,” Süzal shares with us. “I’ve benefitted greatly from coaching and it’s the joy of my life to be able to guide others now.” As a fellow Metropolitan, she knows the hardships connected to relocating and navigating a new city. “I understand Vienna’s international community because I’m a part of it. I’ve been there, I’ve shared the struggles and I’m here to lend a helping hand,” the Turkish native says of her personal journey.

Coaching for Everyone

Whether you feel the need to reinvigorate your personal life or want to kickstart your career, Süzal has the tools to help you. As a life and business coach, her mentoring sessions focus on the following themes:

  • Self-Awareness and Mastery
  • Courage and Strategy for Transformation
  • Adaptation to a New Cultural Environment
  • Professional Development and Career Transition in a New Location
  • Business – Entrepreneurship Coaching and Creating Business Plans
  • Body-Mind-Soul Alignment and Combating Procrastination

Are You Ready?

If you’re not sure if coaching is right for you, ask yourself this: Do you feel that you’re capable of more and you’re not living up to your potential? Do you find yourself spinning in circles? Do you ever question your path and the choices you’ve made? Do you feel like you don’t fully belong? If just one of these questions made you nod, it might be time to hire a coach and get to work.

Setting a goal is easy, but making a structured plan to achieve it takes a little more work – and doing it alone is often nearly impossible. “If you’re stuck in a certain situation, it can be so hard to see the forest for the trees,” says Süzal. “A coach comes into your life with a blank canvas and supports you as you draw up a plan with small, achievable steps, one after the other.”

The pandemic brought on a flurry of social media posts, articles and ideas on how to best use your downtime. After a year, however, people are less self-actualized and more fatigued and unmotivated than ever. “It’s normal to struggle right now, but it’s not necessary. Don’t feel alone, discouraged and down on yourself – book a session with me and get back on track,” encourages Süzal, who shifted her business online last year. “Doing a session via video chat doesn’t take anything away from the experience – on the contrary, being in their own safe space often helps my clients feel more comfortable right away and open up more freely,” she enthuses.

Time to Live Your Best Life

If you’re ready to meet Süzal and take the first step toward a brighter future, connect with her on her website or send her an email. You can find out more about her professional background on her LinkedIn profile and catch a glimpse of her personal life on her Instagram account. Tell her we sent you and get 15% off your first session.

This is a paid article by Dilek Süzal

Vienna’s Current Coronavirus Rules – in Short

The following security measures are in effect in Vienna as of September 15. Please note that additional measures may be taken in the near future.

3-G Rule

  • 3-G rule: People aged 6 and over who, for example, visit a restaurant, bar, event ,or go to the hairdresser, must show proof that they have been tested, vaccinated or have recovered (“3-G rule”).
    • As of Sept. 1, for people over 12 years of age, PCR tests are only considered as entry tests for 48 hours, rapid antigen tests for 24 hours.

Vaccination Validity

  • Vaccination is only valid for the 3-G rule once immunization is complete.
    • Proof is issued on the day of the 2nd vaccination.
    • Regulations for persons vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson and those recovered and tested remain unchanged.
    • The validity of the vaccination was extended from 270 days to 360 days from the date of getting the second vaccination.

FFP2 Masks

  • FFP2 masks are mandatory on public transportation and in convenience stores and cultural institutions.
    • Children up to 14 years of age and pregnant women may wear mouth-nose protection.
    • In all stores, shops and retail facilites, an FFP2 mask is mandatory for unvaccinated people.
    • For vaccinated people, a mouth-nose protection is sufficient and wearing an FFP2 mask is recommended.
  • In enclosed spaces of recreational businesses and cultural institutions (for example, in the cinema, theater, concert hall), an FFP2 mask must be worn in addition to the 3-G proof.
    • Those vaccinated and recovered can also wear a mouth-nose protection instead.

Events

  • For events and gatherings of 25 people or more, the 3-G rule applies.
    • Events with 100 or more people must be registered, but can generally take place without upper audience limits.
  • Registration requirement: In catering and accommodation establishments (hotels etc.), non-public sports and leisure facilities, as well as gatherings with more than 100 people, the contact details of visitors have to be collected.

2-G Rule

  • Access to clubs and discotheques is only possible for those vaccinated and those who can show a current negative PCR test result (2-G rule).

Hospitals, Schools & Services

  • Visits to hospitals: 1 person per patient per day is permitted. FFP2 masks are mandatory.
    • In official buildings and other publicly accessible areas of the city administration, the minimum distance of 1 meter applies in addition to the mask mandate.
  • Educators as well as persons working in the catering trade or in occupations close to the body must continue to be tested regularly.

Checks

  • The police can carry out random checks to control whether the measures in force are being folllowed.

Since the start of the 2021/22 school year on September 6, classes have been held in all grades and types of schools. Among other things, testing and vaccination services have been expanded for this purpose. Until September 20 (safety phase), there is an obligation to wear a mouth-nose protection outside the classroom.

Donation Campaign Set Up After Murder of Two Viennese Women From Somalia

Update – September 15

A 28-year-old man suspected of killing two women on Monday has given a full confession of double murder in Vienna. He admitted to stabbing his ex-wife in a fight about text messages, as well as an acquaintance who arrived on the scene later.

According to the police, he also planned to kill another person. However, the man escaped because of the highly intoxicated state of the attacker.

The suspect said that on Monday morning, he and his 37-year-old ex-wife started a discussion about SMS messages in her kitchen. He went to the kitchen for a rolling pin and beat the woman with it, then stabbed her with a knife. Police could not confirm if the motive was jealousy, as the man did not mention it at the interrogation said police spokesman Mohamed Ibrahim.

The man then waited in the apartment for the second victim to arrive, a 35-year-old friend of his ex-wife. “He knew that the woman often came around midday to visit or for lunch”, said Ibrahim. Since the divorce, the suspect had not had a good relationship with the 35-year-old.

He drank alcohol until she arrived, and then attacked her with the knife.

He then contacted a 36-year-old man, asking to meet outside the apartment. It was not clear yet if this was the author of the text messages to the ex-wife, said police. The man managed to escape from the attacker.

The suspect’s four-year-old daughter, who was in kindergarten at the time of the attack was taken to a crisis center for children and adolescents in Vienna.

The man was previously charged twice, once with a sexual crime. In both cases, a trial was started to remove his asylum status – the suspect originally came from Somalia – but each time it was stopped as both charges were dropped.


Both women were actively campaigning against sexual violence and violence against women. A group of NGOs and individuals has set up a donation page, covering the costs for the funeral and providing support for their families, among them a young child.

The page says (in Arabic & German):

inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un – Verily, we belong to God and verily, to Him we return.

Our friends Shugri Ahmed Abtidoon and Fadumo Hirsi were brutally snatched from us on 13/09/2021.

We are heartbroken – we have known them both for a very long time. Fadumo Hirsi has been at the forefront of advocating for victims of gender-based violence and has now had to pay for it with her life. When Fadumo defended her friend Shugri from her brutal ex-husband, she washerself a victim of gender-based violence.

Fadumo tirelessly stood up for other women, defending them, translating for them, and helping them find help from the authorities. She accompanied them to institutions that help women affected by violence.

Shugri leaves behind a young child. This fills us all with great pain.

Dear Shugri, dear Fadumo, from our lives you have gone, but in our hearts you will remain.

May you find a home in paradise.

We have set this up for anyone who would like to contribute to the funeral expenses and financial support for the families.

Thank you all for all the love and support during this difficult time.


Original News from September 14

A 28-year-old man is suspected of murdering two women in Vienna in the tenth district (Favoriten). According to police reports, officers were called to a dispute settlement on Monday afternoon. They met the man who claimed to have killed two women in an apartment.

Police found the two victims, aged 35 and 37, on the floor of the apartment around 4 pm on Monday, September 13. The suspect was arrested.

According to newspaper reports, the two women were stabbed to death. The murder weapon, a knife, was secured.

Initial investigation reports stated that the suspect had a 2.2 percent blood alcohol level at the time of the arrest. The suspect was so intoxicated, according to the report, that questioning was not initially possible. As a result, police had little information to give to the media.

According to neighbors, one of the victims was the man’s ex-wife, with whom he had a four-year-old daughter. The girl was in Kindergarten at the time of the incident, and she was collected by social services. The second victim was the new girlfriend of the suspect, who was often in the apartment in the tenth district to eat and to pray.

The man was previously charged twice, once with a sexual crime. In both cases, a trial was started to remove his asylum status – the suspect originally came from Somalia, like both of the victims – but each time it was stopped as both charges were dropped.


If you or anyone you know experiences or fears domestic violence, here you can get help and support. You can also call 057722 to get support in German, English, French, Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, Turkish and Russian.


Reported in cooperation with the Austrian Press Agency / APA.

Publisher’s Letter | One for the Road

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Once upon a time in my Vienna history, I was working as a travel writer and as a waitress. This combination is particularly tricky in a town like Vienna. By day I’d be whizzing from one 5-star hotel to the next Michelin-listed fine-dining location and by night I’d serve drinks at an Irish pub – with orders like “Diesel” or “cola rot” – things no self-respecting gourmet would be caught dead with. But I also learned important terms like Absacker (one last drink) and Fluchtachterl (one for the road, lit., the glass of wine as you flee) – proof that ending an evening in this culture is no easy matter.  

Through it all, I was privy to the whole spectrum of leisure-time consumption – from spritzers poured from Dopplerflaschen to the world largest champagne cellar (it’s in Palais Coburg, see page 60). In short, I discovered that Vienna takes its alcohol and the consumption thereof as a matter of importance – but also as a matter of course. 

It’s the only capital city that has a substantial wine making industry within the city limits, it’s also a city that begins the evening decidedly late. Maybe it’s a tradition created by ball-season, or by the debauchery, or by the people just piling on one akademische Viertelstunde (the accepted 15-minute delay) after the next until they’re finishing dinner after midnight. 

In the Prost! issue, we’ve devoted our attention to the süffige things in life (things that go down easily). The cover story, written by Vienna’s own Alltagspoet, gives an intimate account of growing up in Vienna, and the regional differences in drinking culture in Austria. In a society where certain beverages are so tightly linked with cultural identity, the producers and presenters play an outsized role, a microbrewer, a sommelier, gin makers and, finally, the monk who produces wine, beer, and schnapps. But we also spoke to an expert in enjoying the stuff: Vienna’s legendary mayor, Michi Häupl. 

If you want to take matters into your own hands, you’ll learn how you, too, can become a sommelier and to stay out of trouble for a little make-your-own, our experts at Vienna Legal have you covered (84).  If you’re more of a mixer than a winemaker, you’ll also find hands-on career pointers from some of Vienna’s best barkeepers.

And yes, in the end, alcohol is a business and the Austrian wine industry, like others, has been affected by the lockdowns – but it wasn’t all bad. Looking abroad, wine-lovers will be pleased to know that Austrian wine has been experiencing a brand-renaissance in the export market, as our culinary reporter Bart De Vries looks into how Austro-wines have measured up abroad.

The city is welcoming partygoers – COVID willing – and the fall beckons with plenty of events and new locations to discover. You can discover the easy-going world of the Heurigen, the wine taverns with a culture all their own. And you can start in Grinzing, the location of this issue’s Grätzl.  You’ll also find plenty of new restaurants (Tolstoy) as well as get to know the people behind old favorites (Heuer am Karlsplatz) and the first brewery hotel Vienna has ever seen.

If you’re ready to give the true Austrian beverage culture a try, we’ve included a calendar insert of the beverage-of-choice for every month of the year, to build your confidence in what you order, serve or share with your fellow Genießer. Because particularly when drinking, the rule is, don’t be a stranger.

Wine, Wine, nur du allein

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It was a warm Saturday evening in Klosterneuburg. The year, 1996. Rather than taking the ten-minute bus trip into the wild capitol with its many nightclubs, bars and promises of adventure, the then 15-year-old author of these lines decided to once again pursue his dreams of a wild Saturday night amidst the contemplative vineyards of his hometown. 

Most weekends would kick off somewhat like this: We would walk into one of the countless Heurigen wine taverns and purchase a couple of bottles to go. One of the infamous Dopplers was then just 17 Schillings a piece (little more than €1) – and as the name suggests, they contained two liters of local wine made from this year’s grapes. Back then, we were all below the legal drinking age (16), but I don’t remember a single time that that caused a problem – as I recall it, we were not even aware that we were breaking the law. 

Content with our purchase, we ventured on to a local park or somebody’s mansion (Klosterneuburg being, after all, one of the richest suburbs of Vienna) and drank what was a liquid so sour and distasteful that looking back, it was only consumable by teenage bellies that, in the endlessly, determined search for excitement, wouldn’t have refrained from drinking paint solvent had we had any. Which we by the way came pretty close to doing another time when trying out 80% pure vodka a friend smuggled in from Italy, which caused me to go blind for half an hour. Even as I am writing these lines I cannot help but generously smile at the good old days when boys just wanted to be boys.    

Always 7pm somewhere

Fast forward 25 years: I am taking a stroll through Vienna’s Naschmarkt where life has returned to somewhat more normal reduced Covid state – and with the noon-time invasion of the socially deprived locals came their thirst for alcohol. It is a working day, mid-day, mid-week. But as I walk along the countless Gastgärten, I am hard put to spot a table with at single non-alcoholic beverage. A group of workers is just finishing their second “Krügel”, which, harmless as that Viennese Mundart makes it sound, means that they downed a liter of beer within a half hour lunch break, before enthusiastically returning to work. 

I recall a remark by German comedian Dirk Stermann describing how he battled with the Viennese mentality and specifically, the local’s intimate relationship to alcohol. He soon learned the hard way: In Vienna beer and wine are simply not considered alcohol, and any condition in which one can still walk upright on two feet is dismissed as a Damenspitz (Viennese for someone who is a bit tipsy). 

It took his outside perspective for me to even question the role alcohol plays in Vienna – which, objectively speaking, is absolutely everywhere. Want to meet up with a friend? Let’s go for drinks. You have a new girlfriend? Let’s celebrate and get wasted. You got rid of your old boyfriend? Similar script, same hangover. Whatever the occasion, alcohol is always a part of it – and the Viennese creativity in finding reasons is endless. 

Tobias Frank und Harald Mayer ©Monika Fellner:Ottakringer Getränke AG

Says Tobias Frank, director of the Ottakringer Brewery in Vienna’s 16th district, “the year 2020 was a tough one for us as well. Our sales were down 20% due to the closed bars and restaurants.” Although they saw an increase in supermarket sales that would provide the fuel for Vienna’s youth: What had been happening behind closed doors squirted out like beer from a shaken bottle in the awakening of spring 2021. Young folks conquered the city’s public spaces, bringing an almost Southern European flair: The scenic squares and parks, that in Vienna always feel a little “do not touch”, suddenly turned into what they might have been built for in the first place: venues of social gathering and, yet again, drinking

One of the new hotspots became the Donauinsel: Before Corona, this piece of heaven was a quiet swimming spot where people escaped the packed official baths elsewhere in the city. These days, when the weather is right, the whole population under 30 gravitates to the 21-kilometer-long island. An army of cell phone speakers provides the soundtrack of the “Generation Dosenbier” (Generation beer can), and next to the usual international hits you can also hear some old school local-hero Falco. Austria’s most famous pop music star died in a car crash with 1.5 Promille alcohol in his blood. But this didn’t put a scratch to his image – if anything, it made him an even bigger legend. 

Austrian policemen stand next to the wreckage of the car of Austria’s veteran far-right leader Joerg Haider in the village of Lambichl, near the Carinthian capital Klagenfurt, October 11, 2008. Haider was killed in a car accident on Saturday, two weeks after staging a major comeback in a national election. (c) Gert Eggenberger/ABACAPRESS.COM

But then, he’s not the only Austrian celebrity who checked out that way: Jörg Haider was assessed at 1.8 Promille at the time he crashed his car into a wall in Köttmansdorf.  To this day, the former far-right politician is an idol to many in this country – after all, getting behind the wheel after a drink too many is what in many Austrian towns would be considered a Kavaliersdelikt (a trivial offence, with the veneer of good breeding, like, say, sabers at sunrise) – yet again one of those charming bits of dialect that come with a gin-like bitter aftertaste.

Generation beer can

Both the Dominican Republic and Köttmansdorf (places of death of Falco and Haider) are far away from the heat-beaten grasses of the Donauinsel, trampled down by a stampede of erstwhile mosh pit hooligans – and they are equally well equipped: Almost every group has schlepped at least a couple of six packs , some even whole 24-beer can trays onto the island. The fact that these must be boiling under the summer heat doesn’t seem to bother anyone. 

What is also remarkable is that beer pong and upside down keg consumption has found its way from American movies to Vienna’s 22nd district, putting a layer of gamification onto the serious harm you’re doing to your body. As if we needed any more reasons to drink. 

Walking past, I notice the Viennese typical unwillingness to mingle with strangers finds a perfect cover in the social distancing rulings, as everyone stays within their small group isolated from each other. The only strangers who are allowed to break these circles are the infamous (and unofficial) beer vendors that sell (feebly) cooled beer cans. I watch as one walks casually along the pathway, announcing his selection (beer or Radler, keep it simple). “Is it for free?” a cheeky young man yells back, and, to my surprise, the vendor reaches for his bag and tosses him a freebie. When I ask him how business is going he confirms that it is riding high this summer: 

“On a hot day like this people are very appreciative of my services,” he says modestly. “Especially here on the island, where there are so few bars – and of course my stuff is a lot cheaper as well” He won’t tell me how much he makes in one day, but given that he doesn’t pay taxes and can afford the occasional freebie to a wise guy, it cannot be too bad. 

Vienna, we have a problem

While all these anecdotes might be dismissed as subjective perceptions, there are numbers to back up Vienna’s, and Austria’s, potentially serious alcohol problem. According to Statista, Austrians on average consume 11.6 liters of pure alcohol each year, which puts us 13th in the worldwide ranking (see also Stats on p. 27). When it comes to beer, only the Czechs consume more per capita. And with 311 breweries across Austria, we will always be able to satisfy our needs even if the borders close again, cutting us off from the world. 

In 2018, for example, 8,419 men were released from a hospital diagnosed with an alcohol addiction; for women the number was less than half, but they’re catching up as I would  soon find out. 

Hermann Hofstetter has for 12 years headed up the Blaues Kreuz, an institution for the treatment of alcohol abuse. A former alcoholic himself, dry now for 15 years, Hofstetter corrects me when I ask about his past addiction. 

“I AM an alcoholic. There is no past tense for this,” he insists. “It is something that stays with you for life.” The retired city official speaks about his struggle with the strong voice that shows that he did beat the bottle after all. 

“Before I became an alcoholic, my consumption level was normal – at least what is considered “normal” around here. Because actually the amount of booze we consume in this country is anything but that.” 

His life took some bad turns and he found in alcohol an easily accessible and cheap medicine to treat the pain. Every day, he needed just a little more to feel better…  Until he started to feel terrible. It took only 2½ years to bring his consumption levels to the top and his mental and physical condition to an absolute bottom.  He reached out for help and, after out-patient therapy brought no results, applied for a residency. 

“Back in 2005 I got a place right away,” he reported. “Today people have to wait four to eight months for a free spot.” After eight weeks he was released and, like many recovering alcoholics, thought that he is in control and could from now on enjoy the occasional drink. 

Then, on a business trip to Paris, he downed a bottle of wine before the flight home and bought three more right after touchdown. “I drank two of them, poured the third one in the sink and called the clinic saying that I had a relapse. I needed to come in again right away.” 

This time it worked; he realized that he would have to be completely off alcohol for the rest of his life. And that he would never be able to leave alcohol behind him.  Only, this time he would be helping others fight the curse. After moderating the occasional support group, he became chairman of the Viennese division of the Blaues Kreuz, a Swiss organization offering a low-threshold service: You don’t need an ecard, or citizenship or even any money. You just call or email and schedule an appointment with a care worker. 

In the initial session, you decide what happens next. Many come in for a weekly group session, where people talk about their battle with the bottle. “It is not like in the movies however, where you stand up and say, “Hi, my name is Peter and I am an alcoholic” – as they do in Alcoholics Anonymous – “and then go into a monologue about your life. 

“We prefer to encourage people to talk to each other about the substance that dominates their lives – under the supervision of a coach or therapist.” The association is almost completely funded by donations (the city of Vienna contributes €1,600 a year) and the coaches work there on a volunteer basis. 

And New Challenges

Gabriele Szerencsics is one of these helpers: Next to her job as a coach, she spends 10 to 15 more hours supporting alcoholics at the Blaues Kreuz, She never runs out of clients. 

“During Corona, we saw a new phenomenon develop: Home Office drinking,” she related. “All of a sudden, people were sitting alone at home in their joggers. With a lack of structure and social contacts, many turned to the bottle.” They started offering Zoom calls. They were shocked to find more women than men in the online groups.  “Alcoholism used to be a predominantly male phenomenon,” she said. “But [the women], are quickly catching up, and in our offline sessions as well.” 

After our interview, the two of them take me through the premises, which really consists of two only small rooms. On these few square meters, slightly below ground level – and therefore affordable – people have come in as alcoholics and left with a first ray of hope that they are not alone. 

After finishing this article I stop by at 1070, a hip café in Wien-Neubau. While the inhabitants of the bourgeois inner districts seem to be worlds away from the people of Simmering or Meidling, they all find a common ground in their love for booze. In Vienna, as in most places, alcohol makes no distinctions in class; it is consumed by workers, students, intellectuals, leftists and right-wingers alike. I ask the waiter what his earliest drink order ever was. 

“It was at 8:30 in the morning. Just a regular guy enjoying a Krügerl. You don’t really question these things In Vienna, it is not much more unusual than ordering a [morning] coffee.”

Herz Fest – An International Block Party

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A huge thank you to all those who attended Metropole’s Herz Fest – An International Block Party!

On September 10, we celebrated our award-winning reporting project “Home Is Where the Herz Is,” which showcases Vienna’s 10 largest communities with roots abroad.

Even more, though, we celebrated the diversity of Vienna, our city, so amazingly well represented by our contributors, readers and guests. More than 40% of the Viennese have either moved here themselves in recent years and decades or have close relatives who did so in their lifetime – one of the highest shares of all big European cities and higher even than that of New York City.

We took some amazing photos throughout the evening – you are welcome to download any!

As the voice of Vienna’s international community, it’s always humbling to see our work resonate with each of you. You and your loved ones are why we make Metropole – and we need your support to keep doing what we do best.

Not a subscriber yet? Subscribe now for just €4.00 per month and support Metropole

Living Between Two Worlds

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Vienna is a large, multifaceted city, whose diversity is especially vivid at the countless restaurants, cafes and food stalls that serve food from around the world. 

For Turkish cuisine, however, there are two hotspots: The Brunnenmarkt in the 16th district and – if you can call such a large area a “spot” – the entire 10th district of Favoriten, that refer to as “Little Istanbul.” 

This term is also used more and more by outsiders familiar with the lifestyle and atmosphere of the neighborhood. But for a person of Turkish origin, it has everything – or almost everything, from Turkish organizations, cafes, restaurants and supermarkets to mosques, carpet stores, bookstores, furniture stores, cell phone companies and much more. Year by year the number of stores in this quarter keeps increasing, the streets ever more alive.

Shall We Stay or Shall We Go?

Here is the clearest proof that the Turkish community has taken root in Austria.  This was not so clear issue in the past. “Shall we go or shall we stay?” Turkish migrant family members would ask themselves. Indeed, the Turkish community often felt neglected, and people left on their own. Back then, integration wasn’t an important topic, as it is today. But today, this discussion is often instrumentalized in an effort to push people towards assimilation. The needs of the community were high and correspondingly over the years, the services on offer have grown.

As most people know, the Turkish community in general is very hospitable. If you go shopping in a Turkish supermarket and you are missing one Euro, the cashier might tell you you can bring the money later. When you buy a piece of furniture, you may be able to negotiate an additional discount. And in a Turkish restaurant, the tea is often served for free and is not calculated on the bill. 

But the warm hospitality that the Turks are familiar with from their own culture was often not reciprocated in Austria in the way they had wished. 

There was no real welcoming culture for guest workers in the 1960s and ’70s. Once the migrants realized that they were going to stay in Austria – because they had already built their lives here, whether they intended to or not – there was resistance from the Austrian public. Unfortunately, this is still visible in the growing strength of right-wing scene and far-right politics.

The Meaning of Gurbet

There is a term in Turkish that says a lot but cannot be translated very well: “Gurbet.” This is the experience and feeling of living between two worlds. Especially for Turkish immigrants, the word gurbet is also linked with longing, pain, and separation. A person knows where he comes from, she knows her origin, but lives in another part of the world. 

So you end up feeling like a foreigner everywhere. You are a foreigner in your country of birth – one of the “Almanci” the Germans (now the general term to describe Turks who live abroad.)  And a foreigner in Austria, where a welcoming culture was sadly missing.  Turkish guest workers, just like many others, were not welcomed nor accepted into the society and were only here to work. 

But now things have changed. Austria became our home place, Vienna our hometown.

A Feeling of Home

That’s why the Turkish community is trying to establish a little bit of a “home feeling” for themselves.  A place where you feel comfortable and experience a little bit of culture. Ordering in Turkish at the restaurant, eating your usual pide (flatbread) for Ramadan fresh from the bakery, or buying the spices and ingredients you need to cook the food that you love to eat in Turkey.

My mother often mentioned that there were not as many choices in the early years as there are today. We sometimes had to drive long distances to find a Turkish store at all. We used to travel to Turkey very often by car. It was the cheapest way to take the family on vacation. It was also practical because you were able to visit family dispersed across the country. But there was also another advantage. There were no luggage limits and certain special things could be easily brought along. 

We used to bring fresh grape leaves from my grandmother’s garden. As a result, we always had an overfilled trunk on the return ride back to Austria. That’s why we took so much with us – we didn’t have a lot of things here back then. Now, for me it is normal to buy these things here. 

I must also honestly admit that I am sometimes surprised when Turkish families from the Austrian countryside find it so exciting in Vienna. The achievements of the Turkish community, especially in Vienna, are really praiseworthy, but we tend to take it for granted. 

Yes, since the ’60s, the Turks have helped to build Austria. But not only the nation; they also held the Turkish community together. Over the years, they have worked and created opportunities that it seems natural to us, the next generations, that such opportunities exist for us to live and embrace our culture anywhere.

Theater Calling

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“Toi toi toi!” might sound a bit unusual for a group of Turkish speakers before they get on stage. But this good-luck expression (e.g. “break a leg!”) is where their enthusiasm for this universal craft meets the local culture. Here is a glimpse of some of the Viennese professional theater people who create, teach and perform the oldest of art forms in both the language of their first land and that of their current home, collaborating with each other in stitching the immigrant and Austrian cultures together. 

Aret Aleksanyan

The words above are those the prominent actor, director, and theater manager Aret Aleksanyan lives by not only in his art but also his life. Until recently you could see him arriving at the WUK on his bike, carrying his leather postman’s bag full of whichever surprise tool of wisdom and creativity he had for that day’s acting class at Theater Sahne Wien. 

But Aret’s contribution to Austrian culture goes way back, building since he came to Austria as a 20 year old, a newly-minted graduate of the Austrian high school Sankt Georg Kolleg in Istanbul. Being born there to Armenian parents and having spent his youth in one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the world, he stepped into an eternally-young-at-heart adult life in another country and culture and went on to study at Vienna’s renowned Max Reinhardt Seminar (University of Music and Performing Arts). Since then he has led a life full of the ancient art form at the Klagenfurter Landestheater, the Ensemble Theater, the Schauspielhaus Wien, and the Intercult Theater, which he headed from 1992 on. On top of that, there were numerous TV projects, and last but not the least, his own ensemble founded in 1988.

His work with Vienna’s most distinguished theater figures, however, should not mislead anyone: Aret has always kept his special connection to young immigrants active, both through the Rudolfsheim youth center in the 15th district that he headed for many years, or through his acting class, as a tireless, notorious and rightfully hard-to please teacher, under the motto “Eine andere Welt ist möglich / Another world is possible” – awarded the Gold Medal of Merit of the City of Vienna in 2008, “for his sustained efforts and tireless commitment to the intercultural dialogue between cultures.”  Creating another world is hard work, after all! 

If you are lucky, you could still catch him shine his light on stage during his widely popular one-man show Derwisch Erzählt (Dervish Recounts), woven of fascinating immigration and culture-clash stories and poems in German, which, after a good laugh, leave you deep in thought.

Aslı Kışlal

This multi-award-winning fire-cracker of an actress, director, dramaturg, screenwriter, or in better terms, “theater activist” who was born in Ankara is an alumni of the Schubert Conservatory. As her 16-year-old’s passion turned into a professional career, Aslı Kışlal has plunged herself into the world of theater in Austria and Germany since the early 90s working with international directors at the Theaterhaus Stuttgart, Theater der Jugend, Stadttheater Klagenfurt, Interkulttheater Wien, Kosmos Theater, Werk X, among others.  Seeing herself more Viennese than Turkish today, she has successfully represented Austria in international cultural platforms with her work.

In addition to performing, Aslı has also been involved in cultural policy building as the founder and/or artistic director of daskunst, Kunst am Grund and Theater des Moments, as well as the project series on post-migrant positions, Pimp My Integration, and D/ARTS (Project Office for Diversity and Urban Dialogue), among others. Her latest initiative is the “performance and theater laboratory” diverCITYLAB, which she has headed since 2013. She describes it as “a synthesis of an art project and a practice-oriented training facility, which aims to open the theater scene to all members of our post-migrant society.”  Not far from this theme and with a background in International Political Relations from Turkey and Sociology from Vienna, she has been a human rights activist focused on immigration and asylum issues, in legal and cultural terms (check out #hiergeboren). 

Aslı has put her mark on theater and film through many projects with her many hats all around Austria and Germany (including the theater remake of Fatih Akin’s film Gegen die Wand (Against the Wall) that she performed in from 2013 to 2019 at Werk X, and Das Kleine Gespenst (The Little Ghost) that she has produced for Landestheater Niederösterreich that will stay on through 2022. One notable project is the brilliant Medeas Töchter (Medea’s Daughter), showcasing stories of not only immigrants but of minorities of gender, sexual orientation, skin color or political views. Unstoppable even by the pandemic and related performance restrictions, she developed the audio piece Medeas Irrgarten (Medea’s Maze), which won ASSITEJ Austria’s (International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People) STELLA * 21 award this June. 

When not immersed in her countless projects, you can find her entertaining her dog in her garden surrounded by the pleasures of nature.

Özge Dayan-Mair 

A devoted Aegean from İzmir, Özge Dayan built her artistic craft in Turkey before bringing it over with the rest of her life to Vienna in her late 20s in 2006. Her bachelor’s degree in Journalism sure helps her communicate not only with her students, but also with the different communities on the social and cultural scene here in Vienna, but her heart has been set on acting. In this pursuit she used every opportunity to develop her skills, taking classes at Studio Oyuncuları (The Studio Players) and TAL – Tiyatro Araştırma Laboratuvarı  (Theatre Research Laboratory) under the leadership of two of the greatest theater figures of Turkey, Şahika Tekand and Ayla Algan. In addition to theater projects and international festivals, her multi-layered cultural and artistic work has shown itself in the radio programs she co-produced and presented in the independent, cult station of Istanbul, Açık Radyo (Open Radio). 

Özge has continued acting full force in Vienna, from plays by Samuel Beckett to modern day cinema, and her own production, Cascando and Act Without Words 1.  In 2018 she played in Matei Visniec’s tragic comedy Migraaaanten – Wir sind zu viele auf diesem Boot (Immigraaaants – There Are Too Many of Us on This Boat) directed by our very own Aslı Kışlal (above). She has been staging and playing the monologue Homebody / Kabul from the play by Tony Kushner through her own Dayan Theater und Performance that she co-founded with Brigitte Pointner. Her latest involvement Anka – Biraz Hayat (Anqa – A Little Life) is a collaboration with other productive women such as Demet Kavut Holly (see below) and Derya Schuberth Gülcehre, tackling women’s issues and rights. 

Like many other artists and cultural contributors, Özge gives back in multiple ways: She teaches Contemporary Acting Techniques at Theater Sahne Wien and via independent workshops and brings participatory community projects into life such as Chor 129’ at Caritas’ Stand129. When she finds a break from this busy life, she escapes to her hometown to enjoy the Aegean coast and its blissful summer nights.

Hakan Çepelli & Theater Sahne Wien

Shortly after coming to Vienna to study Theater, Film and Media Studies at University of Vienna, an idealistic and determined Hakan Çepelli saw the lack of cultural platforms for Turkish-speaking people and decided to take the matter into his own hands. The result was Theater Sahne Wien, born in 2011, in a pursuit of using the unifying power of art in service of the integration of Turkish-speaking migrant workers and their families into Austrian society while keeping their native language alive.  

After staging several plays for different age groups, with support from like-minded people and Turkish-born cultural figures like Aret Aleksanyan (acting), Aslı Kışlal (acting), Özge Dayan (acting and elocution), Barış Acar (art history) and İlker Ülsezer (music), Theater Sahne Wien expanded into Theater Sahne Atelier with intensive classes that trained some 40 amateur actors. Currently the only one of its kind in Vienna, Theater Sahne Wien’s curtains has gone up some 20 times, with remakes of prominent Turkish plays or their own creations, with an audience reaching nearly a thousand people from all walks of life among the Turkish-speaking Viennese community.  This ambitious ensemble of theater and culture enthusiasts is looking forward to the end of the pandemic to regroup and perform all around Vienna once again.  

Demet Kavut Holly & ANKA DRAMA Dance & Theater 

Demet Kavut Holly is another Ankara-born Viennese who brought her art to her new home. She has taken to the stage many times as a dancer (in ballet, contemporary dance, and flamenco) and as an actress. 

Perhaps because she started as a child herself, Demet holds children’s education close to her heart and builds her passions around it: At university, she specialized in German studies with a focus on children’s literature, became a recreational pedagogue and worked as a language teacher at MA 10 (kindergartens). In addition, she teaches ballet, creative dance and gymnastics to children, and has recently started Oriental fairy tale and story-telling sessions for children and adults. 

To bring all this under one roof, she founded ANKA DRAMA Tanz & Theater in 2019, offering courses in dance & movement, play education, performing games, reading & language support and music lessons for young and old, in German and Turkish. The pandemic has, as it has done to many others, pushed her to find creative ways to continue and launch the program “ANKA DRAMA – Dance & Theater goes to the park” at the Rudolf-Bednar-Park in Leopoldstadt (and other convenient places on demand), with engaging workshop titles like “The Joy Of Movement, I Have In My Case… ,” “Improvisation Theater For Parents And Children,” “Fairy Tale Game Workshop ”and others. To share with your kid or to please your own inner child!

Pioneering Social Businesses

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A big mansion, a fancy car, and earning lots of money… These were the life goals that Okan McAllister was drawn to when he was in his early twenties, but as a child, he would not even imagine that one day he would afford a car. And he did not have any clue that one day a more grown-up Okan would also regard these dreams as “small.” 

It was not the ideal childhood. Okan was seven years old when his father passed away. They lived in Çeliktepe – a district in Istanbul where lower-income neighborhoods are a stone’s throw from the skyscrapers of the famous business district. He does not shy away from admitting that he and his family were barely making ends meet. But there was one upside: His half-orphan status opened the door to Darüşaffaka – a well-established school in Turkey that provides orphans with a quality education. 

Even then, there were a few things that already defined him: a passion for justice, a love for music, and an entrepreneurial spirit. When he was 14, he collected unreleased songs of talented musicians from across Turkey who couldn’t get the attention of the big labels, pressed and distributed compilation CDs to help them get their music heard. Before the days of digital platforms, it opened up important new doors.

Later on, through his stepfather – a Briton who was teaching in private schools in Turkey – Okan ended up at a private Austrian high school when he was 16. He studied further in Vienna, including a master’s degree in banking and finance, but not before going to Canada and studying film theory. There he also started up his first business – a marketing company. 

It had all moved so much faster than he had expected – he had even built a gadget-filled home studio for his music – achieving goals that had seemed so far off when he was a kid. With big things so real so early, Okan started rethinking his purpose. What did he want to work on for the rest of his life? 

Making a Difference

It took him just eight weeks to leave everything, and return to Vienna, where he started to educate himself further. His not-so-affluent roots had left a chip on his shoulder; he wanted to make a difference in lives like his. But not handouts, not charity. 

He began to form the building blocks of a new type of enterprise. It was a transformation – a new Okan came out, he was ready to become a “social entrepreneur,” which he first heard about when he was 25. There was a way he could combine both entrepreneurial drive and social impact, align business purpose with a positive impact. Far from “charity work,” social enterprises bring lasting, systemic change, “social impact,” into the center of their business mission and the structures to make it sustainable.  

The chip on Okan’s shoulder now looked for contributing to what would solve the world’s problems, even if little by little. Okan turned his focus on youth empowerment, founding PRIME MOVERS in Austria, a leadership program for young people who are passionate about social and environmental change.  

In it, young people, mostly students, participate in the specially designed hands-on leadership program for a year; in exchange, they volunteer 5-10 hours a week in the portfolio of social enterprises working in waste, food waste, gender inequality, and responsible digitalization. A smart design, where youngsters learn through a series of essential workshops on diverse topics such as leadership, social and environmental change, system thinking, and apply their knowledge to social businesses.

Pioneering Social Change

Okran’s portfolio includes several pioneering social businesses – kindby has become Austria’s first online store for renting high-quality, reusable, recyclable, ethically produced baby clothing creating a perfect example of a circular economy, reducing waste and emissions. Another initiative, “ONE DAY” is an annual conference and community – bringing academia, practitioners, NGOs, and students together – to explore possibilities for systems change that can solve complex social problems. Another initiative is Mission Liftoff, helping teachers integrate the education of social and environmental issues into classrooms through well-designed lesson plans covering sustainability, gender equality and responsible digitalization.

A gifted speaker, Okan has appeared on international stages from the United Nations to European Forum Alpbach, talking about social entrepreneurship, societal transformation and systems change, while also guest lecturing at the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU). He also advises corporations on how they can become more sustainable and mentors social startups focusing on solutions to the world’s complex challenges.

With time Okan’s dreams have been redirected, but even his teenage compilation album shows his drive to make things socially right. All he needed was an environment that encouraged him to merge his motivation for social change with his entrepreneurial spirit. This is something I understand: After moving from Istanbul to Vienna in 2019 following a decade of corporate jobs, I, too felt the pull of social impact, and crossed paths with Okran at the Impact Hub.

So today, I am supporting the Jamba Career for All, building fair access to people with disabilities in the field of ICT/AI. As a core international team of four women and one man, we are now in the research and development phase of our project. 

Is it Vienna that gives the inspiration to so many of us to look for ways to align social purposes with our work? Who knows? But here we are. And it is happening. 

Effectiveness Over Time & Delta

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Prof. Dr. Florian Krammer has been writing (bi-)weekly updates in German for family and friends. Metropole was kindly granted permission to translate and publish these updates.

September 12, 2021

Here again is our biweekly COVID-19 update.

To date, 225 million official SARS-CoV-2 infections have been recorded, 4,641,000 people have officially died from COVID-19, and 5.69 billion doses of vaccine have been administered. Globally, case numbers and death rates are going down right now.

Complex Europe

Let’s start in Europe. The situation here is very different in different countries.

In Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, etc., the Delta wave is subsiding (and was never really bad in some countries). Elsewhere (Germany, Austria, Ukraine, Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia) cases are going up. Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Norway and Finland are in the middle of a wave. And in Poland, Czechia and Hungary, you don’t notice much of a delta wave yet.

Interesting cases are Great Britain, where the number of cases is rising again, and the Netherlands, where the number of cases has gone down, but has settled at a rather high level. Sweden and Belgium are recording cases, but the numbers are stable and relatively low. In Russia, by the way, case numbers are also going down, but very very slowly.

Two days ago, Denmark (73% vaccination coverage, 96% among those aged 65 or older) declared the pandemic in the country virtually over and lifted the last restrictions. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for them. I can imagine that some countries with high vaccination coverage (more than 70%) will soon follow suit if it works.

Abating Delta Wave in the Americas

In the USA the number of cases is decreasing, it seems that we are over the Delta wave. In New York, the number of cases is also decreasing slightly, but Delta has never been very strong here (which may also have to do with the vaccination coverage and the number of people infected, especially in the first wave – immunity in the population is very high).

In Canada, case numbers are still rising; in Mexico, they are falling again. Some countries in Central America have high numbers of cases but the situation in South America (except Venezuela) is relaxed. Even in Brazil, the number of cases is decreasing.

Strong Delta Wave in Asia, Improvements in Africa

In Asia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Pakistan, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, etc. are in the middle of strong Delta waves. In many other Asian countries, however, the situation is either under control or case numbers are declining.

In the Middle East and Maghreb, case numbers are stable or declining almost everywhere, except for Palestine and Egypt. In Israel, the number of infections is also decreasing. Africa looks actually also good with few exceptions where the case numbers are high (Ethiopia, Ghana, Angola, DRC, Rwanda).

So, not so bad on the whole.

Vaccine Update

Now a few vaccination updates. Because last time there were so many questions about vaccination for pregnant women. Large studies have shown that vaccination in pregnancy is safe. In the USA, vaccination is explicitly recommended for pregnant women in all trimesters by the CDC and by professional organizations. The German Stiko also recommended vaccination for pregnant women a few days ago, but only in the 2nd and 3rd trimester – they are more conservative in their recommendations. However, based on the data, I think the US recommendation is correct.

I was going to write more about booster vaccines and vaccines for children under 12 this week. Unfortunately, the data from the “under-12” Pfizer-Biontech study is not in yet. And the FDA meets on September 17 to decide on a third vaccine “booster” shot (which is recommended for immunocompromised people in the US, but not for healthy adults).

I will probably write about that in two weeks (or in between, when the Pfizer-Biontech data comes out and I have time).

Effectiveness Over Time & Delta

What I would like to mention here in more detail is the vaccine effectiveness over time and at Delta. Last week I looked through all available studies and made a list.

As a refresher: We distinguish between vaccine efficacy and vaccine effectiveness.

Vaccine efficacy is measured in controlled phase III trials, vaccine effectiveness comes from observational studies when the vaccine is then used in the population.

Typically, efficiency is higher than effectiveness. Efficacy of most vaccines is related to symptomatic infections (except for J&J, where it is moderate to severe disease, mild disease was not included as an endpoint).

Now there has been a lot of concern, especially from Israel, that the effectiveness is declining. And that is the case, for two reasons.

First, the immune response starts to drop a few weeks after vaccination. That’s normal, and then the immune response settles down to a stable level after a couple of months. But, of course, that can put downward pressure on effectiveness. Secondly, Delta started to circulate, and Delta is more contagious, multiplies better in the upper respiratory tract, and is also a mild “escape mutant” (though not very strong). And those two factors came together and that’s how the efficacy dropped.

Initially, mRNA vaccines had about 90% protection against infection. Now, depending on the study, the efficacy is between 50 and 90% for protection against infections. That includes asymptomatic infections (which were not measured in the Phase III registration trials). The majority of studies see about 75-85% effectiveness, which is actually very good.

However, protection against serious infections is holding up and has not fallen. AstraZeneca, by the way, is also holding up quite well (no data from J&J yet). But, due to the lower effectiveness, infections of vaccinated people occur more often (I know some such cases in my circle of acquaintances, all cases were mild and the illness was short).

While they often do not reproduce the virus, in rare cases chains of infection can occur in vaccinated people.

Based on these studies –and there are quite a few by now – it can be said that the vaccines still work very well and provide excellent protection.

I suspect that the protective effect will probably not decrease further because the immune response is stabilizing.

What About those Who Recovered from the Virus?

A short word to those who recovered from the virus, because there is a lot of debate on this at the moment:

I would recommend vaccination to everyone who has recovered because the antibody response in the blood after vaccination is very high and homogeneous. After an infection, it varies a lot (some people react strongly, some only very weakly). Basically, though, it shows that having been through an infection provides about as much protection against a Delta infection as vaccination.

So, I think a “2G” rule makes more sense than a “1G” rule. The protection that recovered people have is apparently often ignored. By the way, if you were infected and then get vaccinated once, you build up something like a super immunity, which is a lot stronger than the immunity after an infection or after a vaccination.

I will report in two weeks (or maybe before if there is something interesting new about vaccination for children).

Best regards!

PS: I am humbled to to put this here, but I was nominated in the category scientist as Austrian of the Year. I would be happy if you wanted to vote for me.

Word of the Week: Sitzfleisch [ˈzɪt͡sˌflaɪ̯ʃ]

Noun. Endurance, staying power, tenacity. Lit. “sitting flesh,” i.e. one’s posterior, or, “bum on the seat.”

While derriéres are a staple of insults worldwide, Sitzfleisch actually has positive connotations: Saying that someone has it denotes a certain fortitude in usually sedentary, clerical tasks, the nigh-on heroic ability to outlast even the most mundane, mind-numbing or just plain irritating work with superior mental endurance, personified in German as having enough bottom to “sit out” anything, as it were.

A vital skill for anyone working in a government office, where promotions usually go to those who have the most Sitzfleisch. For the more conventional take on backsides, see the highly versatile Oasch.

“Vom sitzen wird das Sitzfleisch mehr.” (“The bottom’s weight increases from sitting.”)

No matter how well you speak German, the Word Of The Week will help you impress any Viennese! While learning German is not an easy task in general, learning the language in Austria can come to be twice as complicated.

Strongly linked to local cultural individualities, the slangs change and evolve in all cultures around the world, the words and phrases make sense only when one is familiar with their cultural context. The Word of the Week is here to help you understand those singularities and impress the locals with some real Viennese words and expressions.

The Word of the Week can also be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Spread the word!

Being Turkish in Vienna

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Birsen Özmen

The Brunnnenmarkt is the second largest street market in Vienna, after the Naschmarkt. There are some 120 different market stands. One of these, number 59 to be exact, belongs to Turk Birsen Ösmen and her family.

Özmen, moved to Vienna in 2000 from Burdur, Turkey. Here she met her husband who was born and raised here, and with whom she has two  children, a daughter, now 18 and a son, 14. Her husband’s father came to Vienna in the late 60s as a Gastarbeiter, and after a few years, was able to  bring his wife and two children here as well.

At first, the only struggle was with German, but she attended German courses and learned a lot working at the Brunnenmarkt.

Today the family lives in 23rd district.  To pick up their fresh fruit and vegetables, her husband gets up every day around 2:30 am to go to the wholesale market.

“It is heavy work,,” she said. “You can’t do it on your own. We have been working here as a family for the last 34 years, We love our job even if it’s hard sometimes. if you didn’t love it, it couldn’t last that long.“ 

A working day usually finishes at 19:00 and around 20:00 they arrive home. In total, it’s more than 40 hours per week. “Sundays are where the family comes together,” Özmen says. “It’s family time and begins with a late breakfast and becomes a day devoted to family.“ 

Canan Dağdelen

Born in Istanbul, artist Canan Dağdelen came to Vienna 41 years ago to study ceramics at the University of Applied Arts and currently teaches there as well.

“I felt very comfortable in Vienna from the very beginning,” says Dağdelen. She had learned German at school, which made it easier for her to overcome the language barrier.

In her works, Dağdelen explores subjects like belonging, identity and migration,, and the definition of what it means to be settled down. She often uses the language of architecture, especially early Islamic Architecture. “I am primarily working with space. Space as architecture, as a volume, as an extension, as a social and cultural area, where interactions are taking place.“ 

We visited her in her current exhibition Immaterial Construct in the JesuitenFoyer, at Bäckerstraße 18. The title of the work consists of the Turkish word, Taban, meaning the ground and the word “dot” in English. Dağdelen takes the ground plan of a caravanserai and dissolves it in small sets of aluminum objects, hundreds of them, hanging from the ceiling on very thin steel cables. “The work refers to the original function of a “caravanserai”, which was used for a temporary stay.” explains  Dağdelen. 

She uses gravity to create the hanging installation, but also, as with this floating piece, fights against it and creates a sense of weightlessness. Vienna offered Dağdelen many things, beginning with her education, but not only: “Especially the ’90s Vienna were wonderful. lots of exhibitions and cultural events,” challenges that improved her work. 

Ebru Kurbak

Ebru Kurbak is an artist, researcher and lecturer. We visited her current exhibition in the Fabrikraum, an offspace in 15th district run by artists from Turkey.

Born in Istanbul, Kurbak studied architecture there until her artistic path led her first to Linz, then to Vienna, where she continued her projects.

It is unusual work, bringing a traditional handcraft like lace together with a stroboscope. – two opposite poles joined, to provoke visitors to ask the question, “Why?”

“Growing up in Turkey in the late 80’s, I got in touch with lace when I was a teenager. My mother, who was an elementary school teacher, also wanted me to learn the craft. A lot of people around me were making lace. So, i learned and have been making it ever since.“

In the exhibition, Kurbak refers to two books, both published in the 19th century, one is about the stroboscope/optical illusion discs by Simon Ritter von Stampfer and the other about the introduction to crocheting. The latter one was the first book ever published about lace. With her work, Kurbak creates a reunion of these two areas. 

Kurbak is also interested in the contrast in locations: The inventor’s space was the lab and lace was produced at home. “Historical objects are loaded with material cultural, with functional and social meanings. As we enter a room these last are how we perceive objects. As I study the objects, I try to focus on the material and its weight, and experiment with light to see its transparency. After I install my work in the exhibition space, it will be perceived with all these possible meanings. I want to create this oscillation.”

Kurbak’s ongoing research, “The Museum of Lost Technology” (2020 – 2024) goes further in investigating textiles in art and technology and explores the position of “women’s work” in the contemporary world of technology-engaged art. 

Emre Yavuz

Born in 1990 in İzmir, Turkey, Emre Yavuz is a pianist who, today, lives and works in Vienna and plays the city’s signature instrument, the Bösendorfer.

He started his music education early under the “Educational Act for Prodigy Children” with Kamuran Gündemir in Ankara, before coming to Vienna at 16 to study with Roland Batik.

Emre’s life has been on the road, studying in Vienna, Hannover and Tel Aviv, performing with various orchestras as solo artist and continuing with renowned teachers like Fazil Say, Sanem Berkalp, Karl-Heinz Kämmerling, Arie Vardi.

After completing his studies, Emre returned to Vienna. Even though he hadn’t liked the city much when he first moved here, he found he missed it a lot when he was studying abroad.

“I chose to live in Vienna because I can be very productive here. I like how I work here; I like my mindset when I’m in Vienna.”

For Emre, his artistic approach is all about honesty, personality, integrity, and the experience. “For me a concert or an album in the 21st century should be an experience and you only achieve that if you have a concept, an idea that you want your audience to go through. Then it works. Otherwise, you are just playing stuff one [piece] after another.

“If I don’t have something personal to say with the piece I am playing, there is no point in me playing it.”

This is how he works while he is preparing for concerts and programs. 

“I also did it with the Rachmaninoff album,” he says, which was his debut album recorded in 2019 and released in 2020.

Due to corona restrictions, many concerts had to be cancelled or postponed. Today, he has started to have concerts again and wishes to continue. 

Ece Özdemir

Ece Özdemir is a film scholar and cultural worker. She was born in Ankara Turkey and moved to Vienna 5 years ago, to do her PhD.

She is part of the Neuer Wiener Diwan Team, which is an arts and cultural association. It was founded in 2007 as a literature project, which focused on the Austrian Avant Garde literature and its translations to Turkish as well as Turkish experimental poetry. The first 7-8 years of NWD was more about meetings with the writers and poets and the literature exchange between Istanbul and Vienna.

After Özdemir moved to Vienna and joined the team, they shifted focus onto other cultural aspects. With her background as a film festival coordinator and work with several NGOs in Turkey, she planned to use her knowledge and connections to establish a program with more of a focus on cinema and art. “At NWD, we can not think about arts and culture without the social sciences. Everyday politics also impacts the arts and culture, so we tried to structure a program, where we bring people from social sciences together with artists, writers and directors.”

As migrants themselves, they wanted to learn more about Austria. “We were curious about the city we are living in, we were curious about Austrian film, we were interested in the feminist movement in Austria and in the contemporary art.”

At first their events were mainly for the Turkish speaking community; later, they added some German translations to their programs. “In the last two years, we began to think about our projects as an encounter. How would it be, for example, to bring a feminist thinker from Turkey together with a feminist thinker from Iran or Austria. So next year we would like to continue with a program where we can invite people from all around the world and open up a wider community with more events in English.“ 

Through its events, lectures, and screenings, NWD seeks to disrupt the prevailing viewpoint in art, literature, and history and to bring out previously unseen, unknown, or not-so-familiar perspectives. Thus, they have long wanted to bring their events to the public arena. “We want to see how going outside to the public space would impact our discussions.” With the pandemic, they thought it was time to make some first steps. So a program of Gedankengänge was created. 

The first Gedankengang (where walking and thinking take place together) was organized with Petra Unger, as a feminist city walk, where she talked about Austria’s leading feminists and their stories. During lockdown, they organized a festival of online film screenings, honoring films like Phases of Matter/ Maddenin Halleri, Mimaroğlu and Invisible to The Eye/ Ah Gözel Istanbul. 

From Coffee to Kebab

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Turkish food culture has a long history in Vienna. Legend has it, in the 17th century, hundreds of sacks of a mysterious green bean were left behind by the Turks. Franz Kolschitzky, who had lived in Istanbul for many years, recognized them and opened the first café in the city in 1683. From then one, the invigorating hot drink spread across Europe. Similarly, the döner kebab – one of the most recognizable icons of culinary cultural integration – arrived in Vienna briefly after the first kebab stand was opened by a Turkish-German immigrant in 1970s Berlin. 

So, Turkish culture and food are deeply interwoven with the Viennese cultural identity. From farmers’ markets to late-night kebab stands, there are countless places one can visit to get a taste for Austro-Turkish culture. Here are just some of the few culinary and cultural hots pots the city has to offer.

Ali’s “Ocakbaşı” Grill

1., Operngasse 14

In the baroque center of Vienna, you will find this oriental jewel, Ali’s “Ocakbaşı” Grill Restaurant. The name “Ocakbaşı” refers to a hooded charcoal grill where restaurant-goers can watch their meal being prepared. As soon as you enter, your eyes are immediately drawn to the copper crown of the in-house fire. Fear not: There’s plenty of ventilation. Ali’s Grill is the closest you can come in Vienna to the type of grill restaurant you might find in the heart of Turkey. From the cozy atmosphere to its wide selection of delicious meat dishes, Ali’s Grill is a must! 

Naschmarkt Spice & Food Market

6th district

Just a couple of hundred meters away is the Naschmarkt, the famed spice and food market whose origins date back to the 16th century. With its vintage stalls and narrow alleys, the Naschmarkt is reminiscent of of Istanbul’s Kapalicarsi (Grand Bazar). Here you will find several Turkish spice stalls, grocery stands, butcher shops and restaurants – Turkish specialties straight from the Turks.

Etsan Turkish Supermarkets 

over 20 locations all across Vienna

If you are looking for a retail store that sells imported Turkish food, beverages, and household items, look no further than Etsan Supermarket. Here you can find specialty dairy products, a fresh “halal” deli section and even your favorite Turkish childhood snacks! Luckily, Etsan can be found in almost every district in Vienna, at over 20 shops spread across the city. 

Leibnizgasse Farmers’ Market

10th district

For those who have visited Turkey, chances are you have walked into a farmers’ market in the middle of a street, filled with crowds and vendors shouting “Best tomatoes of the city’’ at the top of their lungs.  But if you have never seen this event play out in real life, pay a visit to Leibnizgasse in the 10th district, where this is an almost daily occurrence. The Leibnizgasse farmers’ market feels familiar yet foreign, such that you may even forget you are in the middle of one of Europe’s capitals. It is also a great way to support local farmers!

Galata Restaurant & Lounge

22., Raffineriestraße 65

Going across to the Danube, Galata Restaurant & Lounge is a unique grill and fish restaurant adjacent to this historic River. In the mornings, Galata offers a rich traditional Turkish breakfast known as Serpme Kahvaltı which includes several small dishes that are meant to be tasted and shared with your loved ones and friends. If you like indulging in oriental cuisine whilst gazing onto the river flowing past, this is the spot for you!

Ambar Nuts Organic Grocery Store

10., Quellenstraße 60

In the heart of the Turkish district in Vienna, Favoriten, you will find Ambar, a traditional store specializing in nuts, dried fruits and other organic food varieties. These snacks are often overlooked but are an indispensable part of Turkish cuisine.

Özaslan Bakery 

10., Laxenburger Straße 69

Özaslan Bakery is a small yet charming bakery, which as the name suggests, offers various mouth-watering baked goods, as well as their delicious baklava selections!  There are, in fact, around 100 different types of baklava, and many of them can be found here! 

Culinary Current Affairs

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“Unfortunately, in Austria fine dining often means fine serving,” Markus Höller remarked with a pert smile, adding: “that’s a lot of chichi!” In his opinion, food should always focus on fun – both on the plate and regarding the service, and especially concerning the flavor. 

It should therefore come as no surprise that earlier this year, Höller found himself appointed as the new head chef at Heuer am Karlsplatz, a casual-yet-stylish after-work favorite just off of Naschmarkt amid the cosmopolitan chaos of central Vienna

Playfulness is somewhat of a legacy at Heuer, which opened its doors in 2014 as the successor to the popular Kunsthallencafé: From day one, the restaurant’s central wall has been lined with curious jars containing all sorts of bubbling concoctions. “Fermentation is how it all began,” Höller explained: Heuer is famous for its shrubs, an acidic, fermented beverage which they make themselves. 

Social Dining

The recent lockdowns offered plenty of opportunity for him to reflect and devise a new menu – so much so that the seasoned chef, who equates the restaurant to a stage and its customers to an audience, came up with not one, but two stellar new dining concepts. 

While thinking about how to best entertain Heuer’s 240-seat bar and terrace area, he drew inspiration from dinners he shared in Madrid and the conversations they sparked, noting that “food is one of the most social topics there is… it never tastes as good (alone) as with friends.” In the age of corona, that’s akin to a manifesto, emphasizing the role that restaurants like Heuer fulfil in a bustling city like Vienna.

And so, Höller, who has two Gault&Millau stars under his belt, placed the social aspect of eating front and center, with a “small plates” concept inspired by Japanese zensei cuisine and Spanish tapas – “something to enjoy along with a bottle of wine,” as he described it. A good example is his Crispy Beef Tartare – featuring small, crunchy balls of beef with a miso dip and daikon radish, it boldly mixes European and Asian influences.

The additional 40 indoor seats serve clean-cut and ingredient-forward á la carte “casual fine dining.” Where guests would have previously found burgers and goat cheese salad, Höller offers dishes like crayfish with cauliflower rounded off with peach and trout caviar, drawing upon his extensive network of local suppliers. The menu is set to constantly change with the seasons and trends, as befitting the name Heuer (“this year” in German), which Höller clarified stands for contemporaneity.

Markus Höller (c) Christina Noélle

The ambitious chef’s career is filled with enviable stations along the way: a highly celebrated student of legendary Austrian chef Reinhard Gerer, Höller gained two Gault & Millau stars at his family’s restaurant Höllerwirt on the Traunsee in the Salzkammergut; more recently, he impressed with a fresh take on meat at Artner an der Wieden. In the near future, Höller would like to leave his comfort zone by developing vegetarian dishes – after all, Heuer must remain current, and the 47-year-old is always up for a challenge.

To Höller, food and cooking is a true source of inspiration, and it shows. “Cooking is not a job to me,” he mused. “I still enjoy cooking at home – after all, I do have children.” Having just returned from a holiday in Carinthia, the chef often gathers inspiration from his travels in Spain, Italy, Asia and France – not necessarily from regional cuisine but from the diverse landscapes and conversations with locals. 

Not to say that Austrian cuisine doesn’t have its place in his repertoire. Even Altwiener Backfleisch, a traditional Viennese dish of lamb testicles, can be a “cool” choice, Höller grins. 

(c) Christina Noélle

Saddle of Venison with Medlars, Mushrooms and Juniper Cream

VENISON

600 g saddle of venison loin, skinned

1 tbsp cocoa beans

2 sprigs of thyme

salt and pepper to taste

oil and butter

MEDLARS & MUSHROOMS 

500 g fresh, seasonal mushrooms (e.g. chanterelle, beech, porcini), coarsely chopped

2 spring onions, chopped

2 tbsp parsley, julienne cut

1 tbsp butter

Mushroom salt and pepper to taste

200 g green beans, blanched and cut into 5 cm long pieces

4 medlars

oil

JUNIPER CREAM

1 white onion, peeled

1 tbsp juniper berries

300 ml chicken stock (or beef broth)

100 ml white wine, dry

200 ml cream

2 thyme sprigs

4 cl blue gin

Salt and pepper to taste

4 tbsp butter

1 lemon

FOR SERVING

200 ml venison broth

Currant sage leaves

Amaranth flowers

  1. Cut the meat into 4 steaks and season, then sear them in an oiled pan on all sides. Add cocoa beans, thyme sprigs and butter. Baste the meat several times with the bubbling butter from the pan. Remove from the pan and finish roasting in a preheated oven at 130° C for about 7 minutes or until cooked to your preference.
  2. Dry roast the juniper berries to release their essential oils. Reduce the heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan. Cut the onion into strips and add to the pan, sautéing until transparent. Then deglaze the pan with white wine, reduce the mixture to about half and add the chicken stock, thyme sprigs and cream. Reduce to 2/3, then strain. Season with blue gin, salt, pepper and grated lemon peel. Just before serving, whip with 2 tablespoons of butter, using a hand blender.
  3. Heat oil in pan, sauté the mushrooms and green beans. Reduce heat, add butter, spring onion and parsley; season. Fold in the peeled, pitted and sliced medlars and heat – just briefly.
  4. Serve and garnish with amaranth flowers and currant sage leaves.

Where to Get Vaccinated in Vienna Without an Appointment

In Vienna, there are several places where you can get vaccinated in Vienna without an appointment.

For getting the immunizing jab against the coronavirus, only a photo ID is necessary, if available also an e-card. If you do not want to be vaccinated right away, you can also register for a later appointment at the vaccination sites.

Everyone in Austria and Vienna can get vaccinated for free, regardless of their citizenship, residency situation, insurance status or other factors.

Just go and get your jab!

Overview

There are both stationary and mobile vaccination sites all across Vienna.

For the most part, people can freely choose which vaccine they want to get. If the vaccine of choice is currently not available onsite, an appointment can easily be arranged. The freely available vaccines in Vienna are:

  • Johnson & Johnson – one shot for full immunization
  • Pfizer-Biontech – two shots, about three weeks apart
  • Moderna – two shots, also about three weeks apart

Further down, we provide you with a comprehensive list of vaccination sites, addresses and other essential information.

Stationary vaccination sites are:

  • Austria Center Vienna
  • Film Festival on Rathausplatz
  • St. Stephen’s Cathedral
  • Vaccination boxes across the city
  • Supermarkets, shopping centers

Mobile vaccination sites are:

  • Vaccination bus
  • Vaccination boat (Old Danube)
  • Danube Island Festival

Stationary Vaccination Sites

Supermarkets

Customers of Billa, Billa Plus and Penny now have the opportunity to get vaccinated in various supermarket branches.

People who are over 18 years old will be vaccinated with the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. People under 18 will get the vaccine from BioNTech-Pfizer.  As a small thank you, vaccinated people will receive a “Ja! Natürlich” organic ginger apple shot at Billa and Billa Plus or an “Oxxenkracherl” energy drink at Penny.

Time & Places

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Over-18 year-olds are offered the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. 12- to 17-year-olds get the vaccine from BioNTech/Pfizer with a second shot at the Austria Center Vienna.

Vaccination appointments for getting a different vaccine can also be set up there.

Time & Place

Thursday-Sunday
10:00-15:00 & 16:00-21:00

Stephansdom
1010, Stephansplatz 3

Austria Center (ACV)

At the Austria Center, you can get vaccinated with your vaccine of choice at any time during the day.

Vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are available in ample supply.

Individuals 12 years of age and older can only be vaccinated with the Biontech/Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Those vaccines as well as those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are available for people aged 18 years or older.

The interval between the first and the second vaccine shot can be arranged flexibly.

Time & Place

Daily from 07:00 to 19:00.

Austria Center Vienna
1220, Bruno-Kreisky-Platz.

Tip: The Austria Center website displays the current occupancy rate.

Vaccination Boxes

Vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are offered for people over 18 years, those with BioNTech/Pfizer for people between 12 and 18 years.

The second vaccine shot will be given at the Austria Center.

Time & Places

Riesenradplatz: Daily from 10:00 to 15:00 and 16:00 to 21:00.

All other boxes: Daily from 08:00 to 12:00 and 13:00 to 19:00.

1020, Riesenradplatz

1070, Schottenfeldgasse opposite 96

1100, Ludwig-von-Höhnel-Gasse 2

1110, Hakelgasse 14-18

1130, Hans-Moser-Park

1230, Auer-Welsbach-Straße opposite 61

Film Festival, Rathausplatz

Visitors to the Film Festival or passers-by on short notice can get vaccinated at the vaccination box on Rathausplatz. Vaccination is possible during the entire duration of the Film Festival until September 4.

For those over 18, the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson will be available; for those under 18, the vaccine from BioNTech/Pfizer will be offered. The second vaccination will then be administered at the Austria Center Vienna.

Time & Place

Daily from 17:00 to 22:00.

Film Festival am Rathausplatz
1010, Rathausplatz.

Danube Island

The vaccination box is located directly at the U6 bridge on the “Sportinsel” and can be reached via the U6 station Neue Donau.

Vaccination for over 18 year-olds will be done with the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. Under 18 year-olds will get BioNTech/Pfizer and a second shot at the Austria Center.

Time & Place

Friday through Sunday
08:00-13:00 & 14:00-20:00

Danube Island
“Sportinsel” near U6 bridge
1210, “Sportinsel” near U6 bridge

Stadionbad

On weekends, you can also get vaccinated against COVID-19 in a vaccination box at the Stadionbad.

People who are over 18 years old will be vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. For minors, the vaccine from BioNTech/Pfizer will be available. The second vaccine shot will be given at the Austria Center.

Time & Place

Friday
14:00-19.00

Saturday & Sunday
11:00-15:00 & 16:00-19:00

Stadionbad
1020, between Stadionbad and Praterstadion.

Shopping Malls

People over 18 will be vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and people between 12 and 18 will be vaccinated with BioNTech/Pfizer. The second vaccination will be given at the Austria Center Vienna.

Time & Places

Mobile Vaccination Sites

Vaccination Bus

Currently, two vaccination buses are on the road in Vienna. The buses make stops at changing, highly frequented locations.

Vaccinations are offered with Johnson & Johnson vaccine for people over 18 and with BioNTech/Pfizer for people between 12 and 18. Registration is not required – only photo identification and an e-card (if available) must be presented. 

The vaccination buses will be on the road throughout the summer and into September.

  • Tour hours:
    • Monday through Thursday from 10:00 to 19:00.
    • Friday through Sunday from 11:00 to 20:00.
  • Tour Schedule:

August 23

Wien Mitte – Landstraßer Hauptstraße 1, 1030
Reumannplatz – Favoritenstraße 134, 1100

August 24

HTL Wien 10 – Ettenreichgasse 54, 1100
Westbahnhof, bus station – Europaplatz 2, 1150

August 25

Ottakring subway station – Thaliastraße, 1160
Kagraner Platz – subway entrance, 1220

August 26

Simmeringer Platz 1, 1110
HLW3/Schulverein St. Franziskus – Erdbergstraße 70, 1030

August 27

Islamic Center Vienna – Hubertusdamm, 1210
Franz-Jonas-Platz – pedestrian zone, 1210

August 28

Ottakringer Brewery – Grüllemeiergasse, 1160
Wallensteinplatz, 1200

August 29

Main station, bus station – opposite Wiedner Gürtel 36, 1040
Seestadt Aspern – subway station, 1220

Danube Island Festival Summer Tour

A vaccination bus accompanies the Danube Island Summer Tour on Wednesday and Saturday.

People over 18 will be vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson vaccine and people between 12 and 18 will be vaccinated with BioNTech/Pfizer. The second vaccination will take place at the Austria Center.

All dates at donauinselfest.at/summertour/

Stay healthy and get vaccinated – you are protecting yourself and everyone around you!

On the Trail of the Ottoman-Turks in Vienna

by Oksan Svastics

translated by Enis Arslan

It is well known that the cathedral bell of Stephansdom, was made by melting down the Turkish cannons that were confiscated as booty (plunder) in 1683. But a little farther on, the store on the Graben designed by architect Adolf Loos has a bronze brick on the façade from his customer, Sultan Abdülaziz of the Ottoman Empire. And the city’s museums, libraries and streets bear various traces of the Turks.

1 – Äußeres Burgtor

In 1915, during World War I, Flora Berl, the wife of a bureaucrat working in the Palace, launched a fundraising campaign for his war orphans and widows. Atop the five-arched gate of the Habsburg palace, on the gold-leaf bay branches appearing right in the middle, the four major donors to this campaign are named: Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph, King Wilhelm II of Germany, Ottoman Sultan Mehmed V (Reshad) and Bulgarian King Ferdinand.

2 – Ephesos Museum

The ancient city of Ephesus, once home to some 200,000 people, emerged after the excavations of the Austrian Institute of Archaeology in 1895. Sultan Abdulhamid II allowed many artifacts from the period of 1906 to be brought to Vienna. Founded in 1978, the Neue Burg district of the Hofburg exhibits many artefacts to this day, including an Amazon on the altar of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient world.

3 – Minoritenplatz

Not far from the house where Flemish Diplomat Busbecq used to live – where the first lilac saplings was planted in May – Turkish traces can be seen and smelled simultaneously. Busbecq was also a botanist, and he was the one who brought the first lilac and tulip bulbs from Istanbul to the West.

Minoritenkirche

The Minoriten Church, which was given the name “Meydanı” (the Square), was targeted because its tower was used as a lookout during both sieges of the Ottoman Empire. As a matter of fact, two cannonballs are still visible on the walls just opposite the mansion of Count Starhemberg, who defended the city during the Second Siege.

4 – Am Hof & Mölker Bastei

At Am Hof, Vienna’s once glittering marketplace, there is a relief on the facade of building 7. It depicts Johann Andreas von Liebenberg, mayor of the city during the siege of 1683 (the Battle of Vienna during the second Ottoman siege). Respected and well-liked, Liebenberg died two days before the siege ended from dysentery that had spread rapidly in the city. 207 years after his death, a memorial was built across from the university on the Ringstraße.

The building at Am Hof, in recent times a municipal Fire Station, was originally built as a People’s Arsenal after the first Ottoman siege in 1529. There are rumors that, in addition to the Turkish loot, the building also housed the head of Kara Mustafa Pasha, executed by the Sultan for his failure in the second siege.

Am Hof

The gold-leaf Ottoman ball rose that shakes its petals on the façade of Building 11 was placed there in honor of the restaurant that once stood on this site. Because in Vienna, often the scars of the past live on as cherished memories.

5 – National Bibliothek/Prunksaal

In Austria’s national library, you can find a copy of the Kutadgu Bilig, one of the most important works in the Turkish language, written in 1069. This book is a copy from the year 1439, of which only three remain all around the world. In addition to that, the Habsburg collection has a large number of ancient Turkish manuscripts.

6 – Griechengasse / Georgskirche

The Greeks who gave their name to this street were Ottoman subjects at the time. After Greek independence in 1829, the rulers of the Ottoman Empire and Greece gave gave religious freedom to their nationals living in either country. Thus, Vienna’s first Orthodox church was established as the representative of the Istanbul Fener Patriarchate in Vienna.

Georgskirche

The building was renovated in the late 1800s on the initiative of an Ottoman subject, Viennese businessman Nikolaus Dumba, where its present form derives from. Dumba, one of the founders of the Friends of Music Association (Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde), was a prominent supporter of the Vienna music and art scene during his lifetime. The study room of his house on Parkring was illustrated by Hans Makart, and the music room was illustrated by Gustav Klimt. The Schubert collection, which has been on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list since 2001, is also in the library of the City of Vienna.

What do the terms Ottoman & Turkish refer to?

The Ottoman Empire was founded by a Turkish sultan in 1299. The Ottoman dynasty –or the imperial House of Osma, named after its founder – controlled the lands that today are part of dozens of countries. Today’s Turkey and the city of Istanbul has been the core of this empire for centuries. At the end of the First World War, the Ottoman Empire fell apart like the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and a the independent Kemalist Republic of Turkey was established within its current borders in 1923.

Okşan Svastics is a tour guide and author on the streets and museums, telling stories about the city, as a Vienna city tour guide. 

Ömer Öztaş – Building a Brighter Future

Ömer Öztaş is the youngest member of the Vienna City Council and Regional Parliament, elected for the Austrian Greens on October 11, 2020, at only 20 years of age. Now 21, he is not only the youngest MP with Turkish roots, but the youngest absolutely. But despite the few migrants among his colleagues, or any of similar age, Ömer is as motivated as ever. 

Öztaş began his political engagement five years ago, in the 2016 Austrian presidential campaign in support of now-president Alexander Van der Bellen. “The choice between Norbert Hofer and Alexander Van der Bellen was not very difficult, to be honest,” Öztaş says with a smile. 

From there on, he gravitated towards politics, talking with Viennese residents and continuing his activism within the Green Party. Since his election as deputy, he has been actively working to support the City and the Viennese in a variety of areas: youth unemployment, youth integration, climate change, environmental protection, LGBTQ+ and women’s rights, and awareness of racism, among others. As a young Austrian with Turkish roots, the external factors that led him into politics have been bittersweet.

Öztaş’ father moved to Austria at the age of seven with her father – Ömer’s grandfather – who came to Vienna as a Gastarbeiter in the 1970s. Having been born in Vienna and grown up in the 20th district of Brigittenau, Ömer has been a local Viennese all his life. The turning point that made him think about his identity as a Viennese with Turkish roots was an incident at school when he was 14: “You will never be able to study because you are Turkish,” his teacher had told him. 

This active discouragement, separating him from others, was an eye-opener for him about racism, and most of all about the situation of many young people in Austria. Although his political engagement began officially at 16, his political journey really began with this incident. For the first time, he noticed that he was different, from his appearance to the way he talked – but in the end, they were really all the same.

“We were all in the same classroom, we lived in the same city, we spoke the same language (in class), and most of all, we were all just children,”, he said, referring to the incident. From there on, he began researching Austrian politics, unaware that one day, he would get a chance to be the change he sought. 

A voice for those unheard

As Öztaş dove more into politics, he noticed that the average representative on the decision making level was about 45-50 years old. There was no one in politics to whom he could relate as a young person, with complex needs and expectations. 

“The theme of youth is everything to me,” he told me. With his team and in collaboration with others in the Green Party, Öztaş now works actively towards supporting young people regarding homelessness, gender equality, acceptance in the family and in the workplace. 

His biggest focus at the moment is youth unemployment. There are currently 10.000 unemployed young people in Austria below the age of 25. So, Öztaş is running campaigns for more job opportunities for Lehrlinge – young trainees in Vienna with his colleagues at the council. He also wants to focus on trainees with disabilities in the near future.

“If you look at the numbers, two thirds of the young people do not have faith in politics,” he said, – not only because of massive unemployment rates and the terrorist attack last year, but also because they think nobody cares about them or wants to attend to their needs. “That is why we want to talk to young people in the fall and ask them what they need and how we can do better.”

Öztaş is currently working towards increasing political involvement among young people. He believes that young people lose interest in politics and are not motivated to vote if they feel that the system does not support them. And this is worse for people with a migration background. 

“I see a connection between integration and youth unemployment. If a young person cannot find work, they lack perspective. Then they think to themselves, how can I integrate into this state if they refuse to give me a chance to work,” he said. “The state should give them a future, so that they can say, ‘I’m happy here, I care about the politics, I want to vote. They need this motivation.”

Another aspect in the lack of representation is the few members in the city council with a migration background: There are only eight. This number in no way reflects to the number of Viennese with a migration background, which is over 40%. 

“There is no role model for kids with a migration background,” he said, something he struggled with in his teenage years. He now wants to be that role model so that other young people will see that they can be politically active as well. 

“What really makes me think is that from where I live in the 20th district, you only hear about young people on the news [when there is unrest]. I want to show that no, that is not us: We are young, we are migrants, and we are a new generation, a generation of change about everything that concerns young people and our future.” 

Öztaş has dual responsibility, not only to his city and its people in general, but also towards the communities who are often ignored. To do this, he is also engaged actively with his Heimatbezirk, “I live in a worker district – not rich – and many have a migration background. When I walk in the streets I grew up in, when I go to the hairdresser I went to throughout my childhood, they say “Look! This is our deputy!” This is something I hold very dear,” he said, “because for many years, these people with different roots were underrepresented. There have been a couple of deputies who have lived there for 30 years or so, but no one asked “How can I help?”. Now, people I have known from my childhood approach me: “Ömer I have this or that problem; Can you help?” I appreciate that very much because they see me as someone from Brigittenau, a young person, who is willing to represent them.”

His goal is to be a voice for those who are unheard. Öztaş sees a massive democratic deficit in Vienna in the future because of the exclusion of young people without Austrian citizenship, who are unable to take part in elections, even though they may have been living in Vienna for much or their lives.

“Some 72,000 young people cannot vote because they have a foreign passport,” he said. “It’s the same with my mom, who has lived in this country for 23 years and was unable to vote for her own son.” And the number only growing; he pointed out. Ten years ago, it was about 25%, and in the most recent elections it was 33%.” 

“If it continues this way, in another 10 to 20 years, half of the Viennese won’t be able to vote.”

A promise made

Beside his responsibilities as representative at the City Council and the Vienna Regional Parliament, Ömer is also studying political science and history at the University of Vienna. Although doing both at the same time is very demanding, he is not willing to disappoint the people who have voted for him. “My mom is a little bit upset about taking it slow with the university, though” Öztaş laughs. “But people trusted me and hoped I would be their voice, so of course I am working for them. I cannot let them down.”

With Turkish roots, Öztaş is subjected to prejudice both at work and outside. “What is someone named “Ömer” doing in Austrian politics” was one of the questions that has come at him so far. He has been portrayed as an Islamist on an FPÖ-friendly medium, or accused of association with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“In Austrian politics, and specifically in Viennese politics, there is a lot of prejudice against Turkish people,” he said.  “They think ‘They are all extreme right wing; they are all this and that.’ But I’ve noticed that we are actually very diverse. But we are subjected to the same assumptions.”

“I came [to Parliament] for young people and for people with a migration background, and I want to voice that. I am not here to make foreign politics.”

Before he was elected, Öztaş worked for other deputies, behind the scenes. Being an elected representative himself is still new to him. He has never been coached in public speaking nor gone to a Parteiakademie. 

“I write my own speeches,” he said. “If I’m burning to talk about an issue, I get out onto the stage with a few notes and speak from the heart. I don’t have any marketing strategies; I speak up when something is not okay. When something is good I praise it. I speak whatever is in my heart.”

In the future, Ömer wants to bring young people into politics by making the age range of the youth parliaments in the Viennese districts consistent, and include people who are older than 13 or 14. His ultimate goal is for Austrian politics to engage young people who want to bring change for a future together as one Vienna.

Afghan Ambassador to Austria: “This will set our country back a century.”

MET: Since the beginning of May, the Taliban have captured about 200 districts, putting them in control of more than half of the 400-plus districts in Afghanistan. What does that mean for the people in the affected regions and what does their life look like now?

Amb. Bakhtari: In recent months, we have witnessed a record number of security incidents, human rights violations, humanitarian crises and attacks on public infrastructure. The Taliban’s violent campaign is directly targeting our young democracy, our vibrant civil society, and our free and independent press. The violence against our security forces and Afghan civilians has reached unprecedented proportions. Thousands of civilians and security forces have been killed and injured, millions have fled. The Taliban have destroyed $500 million worth of infrastructure, including facilities such as schools, hospitals, bridges, and government buildings.

These dreadful killings and the surge in violence are occurring during one of the biggest global health emergencies. The recent escalation of the conflict has resulted in a significant rise in the numbers of internally displaced people (IDPs) across the country. Four million are stranded, their access to food, shelter, water, and sanitation blocked, with an already high number of people previously affected by drought and poverty.

MET: What is the situation like for women and girls in particular?

Amb. Bakhtari: The Taliban’s violent attacks are meant to discourage women and girls’ participation in society. In the areas they control, girls are banned from going to school, women from attending work. They have circulated decrees ordering women not to leave their homes without a male companion and to cover their bodies from head to toe. They are shamelessly ordering each household to present at least one girl for marriage to a Taliban soldier. Women are the main victims of this terror campaign. The Taliban are not concerned with human rights or women’s rights. If the war and abuse continue, Afghan women will lose all the progress they have achieved. Locals have filmed brutal incidents showing the lashing and stoning of women. There is no room for female participation or education in the Taliban’s ideology. This will set our women and our country back by a century.

MET: Analysts have warned the escalating violence could result in a long civil war. Is this a concern you share?

Amb. Bakhtari: It is not easy to predict the direction of this unwanted war. There is more to it than a civil war or a power struggle in Afghanistan. It is a threat to international peace and security. The deadly terrorist attacks this year in Afghanistan and across the globe are a testimony to the fact that terrorism knows no borders, religions or nationalities. As Afghans, we are directing all our efforts towards putting an end to this deadly war and the atrocities, and to convince the Taliban to return to peace talks. The Afghan people have been suffering through more than four decades of war and conflict. The sheer number of people in need underscores the urgency of a comprehensive ceasefire and efforts to achieve durable and sustainable peace.

MET: The Biden administration has stressed that it will continue to support the Afghan government despite the military pullout. Do you feel the USA is doing enough to help Afghanistan at this moment?

Amb. Bakhtari: I would like to commend the United States’s continued commitment to our nation. The US has been a great ally to Afghanistan throughout our journey of transformation and progress. Thousands of Americans in uniform served to secure our country and to combat terrorism. We will not forget the sacrifices they have shown, including losing loved ones. However, more has to be done. We still need their support in different areas, especially security. Our partnership with the USA will be crucial for us in the time to come. I am sure that they will observe the situation closely and act with caution. We have reached all our achievements together and we expect them not to fail us or leave us in the middle of chaos.

MET: How can the international community and foreign powers best support Afghanistan?

Amb. Bakhtari: Let me seize this opportunity to express gratitude and appreciation to the international community. Without your steadfast support, we could not advance our democracy and our development agenda. Continued international assistance to Afghanistan is needed in the process of peacemaking. We attach great importance to the role of the international community in acknowledging the many challenges beyond the peace process, such as development, democracy, human rights and women’s rights. Afghans are counting on the solidarity of the international community. Afghanistan is at a historic moment where we need more aid and support. With solidarity and diplomatic support, we can bring the Taliban back to the negotiation table, and together, we can address their crimes against human rights and humanity.

“Hello Grief and Welcome”

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Liani came to Vienna in 2016 with her new husband who was contracted by the IAEA, and her two sons, aged 16 and 20, joining her 6 months after. With no job at hand, she embarked on a difficult journey to learn German to become part of her new home country. Within a couple of months, she received a job offer at an international university. In 2018 her work phone rang.

On the 8th of May 2018, the principal of her son’s university called to give her the worst news a mother could get. Julian, her eldest while abroad on an exchange semester, drowned in Hua Hin, Thailand. “My initial reaction was disbelief, and a whole range of emotions came out. I screamed that the principal was lying, I threw my phone against the wall and as people came rushing into my office, I just kept saying he is lying, he is lying.” Next came the intense time of going to Thailand, arranging a cremation of her own child, trying to make sense of what happened. “Julian passed away in Thailand. He went for a walk in the night and his body was found two days later onshore.”

As a mother you keep thinking, “How did this happen? Not just the apparent drowning, but how is it even possible for a mother to outlive her child?” After the initial shock subsided, and with a whirlwind of things to arrange, Liani found herself at home beginning to sort out Julian’s belongings.

Understanding Grief

Liani Drury and her son Julian.

When someone dies, you are not only dealing with your own emotions but also with the people around you who all have their own coping mechanisms. “I was lucky enough to have an amazing support structure in my family, my group of friends in Vienna and Julian’s friends that since then have become my ‘adopted’ children.” But there were other reactions too. Some people started to avoid her.

“One of my neighbours literally ran away from me when he saw me, not knowing what to say after Julian’s passing,” tells Liani with a wry smile. One of the most excruciating things she found was hearing the phrase: “You have to move on.” Liani: “It was not about moving on. I will never ‘move on’ from my son. I needed to find a way to rearrange my life with him there but not being there.”

In her grief, she yearned not for words of comfort because there are no words of comfort when a mother loses her child, just a space to be heard, a space to process, a space to be accepted for whatever emotional place she found herself in on that particular day. “When you lose a child, everything you have ever believed in up until that point, vanishes in a second, everything has to be rebuilt. How does a mother’s brain understand the sorrow and loneliness of losing her first born son?”

The Journey of DevaJu

Fall 2018, the grieving mother was desperate to find someone who could sew a keepsakes teddy bear with her son’s clothes. Even though she sewed herself, she never attempted stuffed animals but not being successful in her search, she brought together her sewing gear and fabricated a gorgeous teddy bear made from African shweshwe

A DevaJu bunny with an emblem.

All the love, the thoughts and the sadness were poured into the process where she captured the essence of someone, she considered not only her son but an exemplary young adult. “Julian was a thoughtful and kind boy. I know all mothers say that about their son, but in this case, I can say it is true,” says Liani. She continues: “I was in a very abusive marriage with his father. After five years I was able to walk away. And my son was the reason for this strength. I did not want him to grow up and think it was ‘just ok’ to beat up a woman because she is ‘out of control’ or ‘crazy’.”

The kind nature of her son, who brought sunshine wherever he went, inspires her to tell his story and within no time she gets responses from grievers all around the world for whom she makes a stuffed animal as a remembrance. “I feel honoured when people send me clothes of their loved ones. It is a piece of someone so close to them and must be respected. When I cut out the pieces, I light a candle in memory of the loved one and stay mindful of their lives and those who are left behind.”

To spread Julian’s memory, she adds a little emblem in all the bunnies, bears, unicorns and dragons she makes. “The label is DevaJu. Deva for angel in Sanskrit as my son was very spiritual. Ju simple for Julian.”

Not long after, she received a request from her youngest son’s school for collections for an orphanage in Romania. She thought of making little stuffed bunnies to celebrate Julian’s first angelversary and deliver them to the school. She recruited some helpers in a women’s group on Facebook. After an overwhelming response, the women set off to fabricate 50 little bunnies. All stamped, DevaJu. Liani also started to make more teddy bears with a little note about Julian and DevaJu, leaving them behind in the city. And she received a response!

DevaJu bunnies.

“One evening I was really struggling with the grief when I received a message from a boy who found the unicorn in Neubaugasse, a picture with him and his brightly coloured unicorn. Realizing that my own journey to find healing can impact others played an incredible part of my journey.” Liani is yet to make a DevaJu of the clothes of Julian for herself.

The Impact of a Global Pandemic

Liani Drury in South Africa.

Then 2020 started with a threat of a global pandemic, causing much fear for the unknown. How will this affect our lives? Many people were forced to deal with their underlying emotions and troubles alone behind closed doors during the last year. For Liani Drury it was one of her best years. “The social distancing created a space for reflection,” she explains, as she was forced to go deep-end into her grief.

There were many similar feelings around the consequences of lockdown and restrictions of COVID-19 and the loss of her child, planning and a sense of safety disappeared for many, as we were all forced to live in the present, as the future was so uncertain. The depression of the COVID-19 lockdown and isolation she felt would pass again one day.

But her grief will always be with her. “It is not comparable but on the other hand it is,” explains Liani, “The last year made me realize I need to live for myself, not for my husband or my children or my grief. I need to transform into the human being I can be, reaching into the power of my inner self.”

Liani concludes: “I hope when my son sees me, he will be proud of the person I have become. I am living for myself now and for what I have to contribute to the world. Coming to this point of my journey has been hard, messy, full of tears and laughter but with an inner happiness I could not have imagined a year ago to find.”

Recognizing loss as a universal experience, Liani Drury hopes that “if we can start to understand the true nature of grief and loss and show understanding to each other, we can have a more helpful, loving, supportive collective culture.”

Austria Introduces New Measures After a Surge in Cases

  • The 3-G rule (geimpft, getestet, genesen – vaccinated, tested or recovered) will remain in effect.
  • From August 15 onward, proof of vaccination will only be valid for those fully immunized; a vaccination certificate will be issued upon receiving your second dose.
  • Entry to Nightclubs and Nachtgastronomie (late night bars) will only be permitted with a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours or proof of vaccination.
  • Regulations for those that are either recovered or immunized with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have not changed.
  • In Vienna, anyone over 6 years of age falls under the 3-G rule; in the rest of Austria, only those 12 or older must comply with measures. 
  • Masks will still be required only in enclosed spaces that don’t fall under the 3-G rule (public transport and shops).
  • Any form of nose and mouth covering is currently sufficient.
  • In enclosed spaces like movie theaters and concert halls, both masks and 3-G confirmation will be required.
  • Gatherings of 100 or more people must be registered in advance, with those expecting 500 or more requiring prior authorization.  

Travel to Austria

  • Travelers from countries with low epidemiological risk, or so-called Anlage 1, will be permitted to enter Austria with either a proof of vaccination, proof of recovery or a negative PCR test (3-G rule). 
  • Those arriving from “Areas of variant of concern” (Anlage 2) – currently Brazil, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Uruguay and Zimbabwe are not allowed to enter Austria. 
  • Austrian citizens, residence permit holders and some other groups are exempt from the entry ban. 

The federal government and the City of Vienna are still not in agreement on whether to impose additional restrictions for those who are still unvaccinated. Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein said on Sunday evening that it’s “too early” for such measures, adding that this could lead to a “division of society.”

Executive City Councilor for Public Health, Peter Hacker, stated however that he fully supports barring the unvaccinated from entering sports and leisure facilities. “The gravity of the fourth wave will depend on accelerating vaccination efforts in the next four to six weeks,” he concluded. 

Word of the Week: Reparaturseidel [ʁepaʁaˈtuːɐ̯ːzaɪ̯dl̩]

Noun. A small beer, to combat the effects of excessive alcohol intake, consumed the day after, usually with a hearty meal – some form of Gulasch being traditional.

A compound word consisting of Reparatur (repair) and Seidl, an Austrian term for a small glass of beer originating from the medieval Latin word situlus (a small vessel) – nowadays standardized at 0.33l.

An honored part of the “hair of the dog” school hangover cures applied with varying effectiveness the world over, local folk wisdom dictates that one-third-of-a-liter of suds – preferably a bitter pilsener – is the ideal portion to alleviate the effects of overindulgence, as it’s not enough to get you going (like the larger, 0.5l Krügerl), but sufficient to counter the onset of withdrawal.

Although, truth be told, that hearty (albeit greasy) meal that generally goes with the Reperaturseidl almost certainly does way more. Or, as Metropole recommends, you can try drinking a liter or two of tap water before bed, followed by a breakfast of ham and eggs washed down with pickle juice.

“I glaub i hab gestern zvü dranglt, i brauch a Reparaturseidel!” (I believe I’ve drunk too much yesterday, I need a repair beer!)

No matter how well you speak German, the Word Of The Week will help you impress any Viennese! While learning German is not an easy task in general, learning the language in Austria can come to be twice as complicated.

Strongly linked to local cultural individualities, the slangs change and evolve in all cultures around the world, the words and phrases make sense only when one is familiar with their cultural context. The Word of the Week is here to help you understand those singularities and impress the locals with some real Viennese words and expressions.

The Word of the Week can also be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Spread the word!

COVID-19 Vaccines for Young Children: The Next Step When Trial Results Are in

Two doses of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are about 95% effective and have few side effects in adults. Now it’s time to consider vaccinating children under 12. But, first, we need to evaluate possible short- or long-term effects of the vaccines.

In Austria, just over 9% of the total COVID-19 cases were in children under 14 years old. 

To date, there was a total of 8,466 cases in children under 5 (boys 4,478 / girls 3,988), and 51,614 (boys 27,012 / girls 24,602) between 5 and 14. We were lucky: Only a small number were hospitalized, and none of them died.  

Many experts argue that we shouldn’t bother vaccinating children under 12 years old. Their arguments are two fold: Firstly, they reason that most children are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms and recover quickly. Secondly, we need a massive supply of vaccines for the millions of unvaccinated adults around the world and that this should be our priority. 

The opposing view in favor of vaccination is that children are the largest unvaccinated population, and we only need one such population to generate global variants that keep the pandemic going.

Childhood vaccines are safe

Childhood vaccinations are routine and widely accepted in most countries to ward off diseases like measles, mumps, polio, diphtheria, rotavirus, meningitis, and whooping cough. Childhood vaccines have few side effects and often induce lifelong immunity. We have a lot of positive experience with vaccines in children and most experts predict that COVID-19 vaccines will also be safe and effective.

Pro: Herd immunity and priority conditions

Supporters argue that vaccinating children against COVID-19 would be another crucial step toward ending the pandemic. The risk is that any population of unvaccinated people, including children, will increase the risk of new viral mutations like the Delta variant. Having more contagious new variants can increase viral spreading and the frequency of severe illness induced with fewer virus particles. At the beginning of the pandemic, a child would only get sick with exposed to a high number of infectious viruses. 

There are additional reasons for vaccinating children. 

Although young children are less likely to become severely ill, there’s still a chance that some will get sick and die. But that’s not all – there will be more cases of the post-COVID-19 multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) with possible heart, gastrointestinal and neurological problems. There’s also an increased risk of ‘long-term COVID-19’ in children – even after a mild episode – that could last for months and possibly years.

Another problem is the potential risk of severe illness if COVID-19 combines with other common viruses, like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which can cause severe respiratory disease. There will likely be more cases of RSV as precautions ease, leading to co-infection with SARS-CoV-2 and possibly, even more severe disease.

Vaccines protect children and those around them. Even when children are asymptomatic, they can spread COVID-19 to unvaccinated adults. So, children who live with vulnerable adults and those with suppressed immune systems should be vaccinated to protect the broader community’s health from the more transmissible Delta variant (and others). 

The more unvaccinated children and adults, the more SARS-CoV-2 infections, the more opportunities the virus has to mutate and potentially resist current vaccines and therapies.

The bottom line, this argument goes, is that vaccinating children is essential for herd immunity.

It’s important to first vaccinate children with underlying health problems that increase their risk of getting severely ill with COVID-19, e.g., asthma, diabetes, some cancers, immunosuppression or a weakened immune system, and possibly children with cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, and Down’s syndrome.

Contra: Rare complications and allergies

Currently, the youngest vaccinated group are adolescents, and the good news is that the RNA vaccines appear to be safe for them. 

The most common side effects are similar to adults, with pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills, nausea and fever that lasts for a short time. 

However, there is a rare complication after the second dose of the RNA vaccine that occurs primarily in adolescent boys. They develop pericarditis or myocarditis, which is inflammation around or within the heart. The symptoms are chest pain, shortness of breath, or feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heartbeat. Although most cases have been mild and resolve themselves quickly, with most affected people making a full recovery, it’s essential to figure out whether this will also affect younger children. 

Some children should clearly be excluded, including any with a history of severe allergic reaction to a vaccine or to any medication related to the ingredients in the RNA vaccines (e.g., polyethylene glycol/PEG).  And of course, all children who contracted myocarditis or pericarditis after a first vaccine dose.

Another argument is that other people, including more vulnerable populations globally, need vaccines more.

Challenges: Dosages and detailed trials

So far, authorization for Moderna and Pfizer RNA vaccines has been given for children aged 12 to 15, but clinical trials in children as young as six months old are underway. Until we see the results of vaccine effectiveness and safety studies, we ought to wait. 

There are some hurdles with approving vaccines for children. For example, we need to determine dosages. Typically, vaccine doses are lower for children, which makes them potentially less effective but also reduces the side effects. 

Other challenges are that the numbers of children in any trials need to be high to observe the rare adverse effects, and these studies take longer because of a necessary longer follow-up time (e.g., two years).

Keeping unvaccinated children safe

Unvaccinated children need to be protected, primarily because of more contagious and pathogenic variants. Until vaccines are available, keep your children safe by having them wear masks indoors, physical distance, and wash their hands. They should be routinely COVID-19 tested and should avoid people with COVID-19 and vulnerable unvaccinated adults. 

The benefits must outweigh the risks

We need to evaluate the benefits and risks before vaccinating children under 12. As soon as positive clinical trial results are available, we should vaccinate children, because of concerns over a potential new waves that coincide with the coming school year and the cooler weather that will mean spending more time indoors.

The Known, Yet Unknown Community

Leaving home behind is always a hard decision. Sometimes it is a necessity, you have to leave the country you were born in just to survive. Other times, it’s related to a new beginning, a search for a better life or a need for change. The reasons are many. Whatever the impetus, it is always hard to leave your home, habits, and everyday routines, and most of all, your loved ones. 

With this in mind, it is easy to imagine the difficulties Gastarbeiter:innen faced. 

May 15, 1964 was a crucial date for the workers who came to Austria from Turkey. These people, who left with such big dreams, gradually, after years of working, established a life here and acquired a new home. They came without knowing the language, often living in shared rooms, under an agreement for temporary working status. Even the workers didn’t plan to stay in Austria. All those involved – both countries states and the workers themselves – saw it as a temporary stay,. 

They planned to work in Austria until they have enough savings to buy a house or launch a business in Turkey. The Turkish state assumed that the workers would not only bring their savings back with them, but also knew knowledge that would strengthen the economy at home. 

However, beginning in the 70s and 80s, the Gastarbeiter began to bring their families to Austria as well. Children were often born here and went to school side-by-side with the Austrians, while the parents postponed their return. Sometimes they hoped to save more; later they wanted to wait until their children’s finished school. But primarily, it was Turkey’s economic and political situation, that blocked a way forward for their families in Turkey.  They simply couldn’t imagine a future there that made sense.

At the beginning they shared rooms with others from their home town, and would go  shopping together because of the language problem. After their families arrived, they continued to live together, to support each other in everyday life.  

Over the decades, there are many stories of success and achievement, but also tears, home sickness, anger, disappointment. There has been happiness and sacrifice, some nice surprises and lots of hard work, and of course discrimination, the frustration of being used by populists in Turkey as well in Austria. Still, the community, like any other, has enriched Austria, with its culture, language and way of life. 

Visiting Turkey in Summer / “İzine gitmek”

For the first generation, in particular, it was very difficult to stay away from home that long. Think about a time without the internet, when phone calls were expensive as were the airline tickets, when pictures were not taken digitally. People wrote each other letters, sent cassettes with voice recordings (even this was unusually high-tech!) to their loved ones back home. So, the summer vacation was a big event, the chance to go back to Turkey, and visit their loved ones. Many traveled by car, especially the bigger families. It was far cheaper and allowed you to bring more presents and on the way back, to bring supplies they couldn’t find in Austria. 

This longing to go to Turkey each summer is still a reality for many. 

After the coup d’état in 1980 and for several years following, many leftists had to leave and apply for asylum in countries around the world, especially in Europe. Others left because of civil war and conflicts with the Kurds. Among their contributions, these refugees brought Turkey’s special understanding of secularism, shaped by the reforms of Kemal Ataturk in the 1920s, which has had a major influence on the Islamic associations in Austria. 

In order to understand the dynamics within the Turkish speaking community in Vienna, we must look at current events in Turkey. Even though the community here has its own structures and dynamics, Turkey has an important influence on Turks in Vienna.

“The Newcomers” – Students

In academic year 2020-2021, over 2000 students with Turkish citizenship were studying in Austria. There are many reasons they come.

The last decades, political changes in Turkey pushed many to study abroad. In Austria, the education was good and compared to other countries the tuition affordable. 

Architecture, economics, fine arts, music, engineering and medicine are the most popular fields of study, not only for a bachelor’s but also graduate degrees. And while some have returned to Turkey after their studies, others also chose to stay in Vienna and became part of the city.

One of the biggest challenges is the language, with the expectation that you complete the C1 advanced level within four Semesters.  A second challenge is a work permit, which  students from non-EU/EEA countries don’t automatically receive with a student residency permit. They are allowed to work a maximum of 20h/week and only if the employer is willing to apply for the permit, which can take two to six weeks. In addition, Turkish students are excluded from most scholarships. Tuition fees are also higher than for students from EU countries. As with all third-country nationals, Turkish students pay double the EU rate, or, €747,42 per semester. 

Religion & Beliefs 

The largest ethnic groups in the community are Kurds and Turks.

The majority of migrants from Turkey belong to the Sunni Hanafi school of law. The Alevis form the second largest group. There is a large Alevi community, estimated at 10-20 percent of the community from Turkey.

In addition to that larger religious groups, Orthodox Armenians, Assyrians and Turkish Jews are all part of the community. 

Regional Associations

There are several types of events, where the community comes together, which we can divide into two broad categories: the traditional and the culture-related events.

The traditional includes religious festivities, weddings, circumcision ceremonies, engagement parties and even funerals. As in most cultures, weddings are particularly important occasions, and before the pandemic, you could have gone to one every week, and the German channel Düğün TV (Wedding TV) broadcasts weddings from around Europe live. 

The culture related events include concerts, theater, art openings, talks, screenings  etc. Before the pandemic, there were Turkish Theater Festivals, where plays, actors and other performers from Turkey came to Vienna stages, where Turks would meet, despite differing political views and backgrounds.

A pinch of Turkey 

Through it all, many long for a smell, a taste, maybe even a sound, that reminds them of home. Those comforting familiar things! 

In Vienna, it’s a pinch of Turkey, which you can find if you know where to look.

Favoriten is one of the centers of the Turkish community here. After Favoriten; Simmering, Fünfhaus, Ottakring and Brigettenau.  The markets, too – Naschmarkt, Brunnenmarkt, Meiselmarkt, Hannovermarkt, Viktor-Adler-Markt – are rich in Turkish culture, important market places, where you can find familiar smells and hear the melodies of the Turkish language. 

Creating a new Home

After moving to another country, in most cases you still have a connection to where you come from.  The sad part is sometimes you miss a place that no longer exists, which can not exist. Even the version of you from that time no longer exists. But still you find yourself longing for this non-existent version of a place and of youself that remains as a memory, as a dream of something you cannot have anymore and is thus all the more  romanticized.

These “memory seeds” you bring with you to your new home, to grow something new and that might be very beautiful 

Having spent half of my life in Vienna, one of the most unexpected things that I have learned has been to understand and see Turkey in a different way. Sometimes you need to take a step back to see the picture as a whole.

And so too with the community here. It will remain as a known, yet not-so-well-known, community for me as well, until perhaps one day I will see it, too, from the outside.