At Home in Vienna, Romanian at Heart

December, 2013: It was that time between Christmas and the New Year, when the media were saturated with holiday coverage, and the news editors were fishing for topics in an ocean that was far too calm. “The Romanians are coming!” shouted a headline that caught my eye: As of January 1, 2014, workers from the new EU member, Romania, would have free access to the Austrian labor market. I smiled, thinking it’s none of my business, enjoying a glass of prosecco on the mild shores of Lago di Garda. Little did I know, I was soon to become one of them.

You’ve got your passion, you’ve got your pride

But don’t you know that only fools are satisfied?

Dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true

When will you realize, Vienna waits for you?

In my imagination, Billy Joel must have known that – as far as Vienna was concerned – I was going to fall in love at first step. He must have written the song anticipating the warm welcome I was to be given. So here I am, bringing brilliant minds together to recount the untold stories of Romanians who left their mark on Vienna, and those who continue to do so.

We, the Wahlwiener (Viennese by choice) from Romania, are launching this special series with the story of those of us who tasted Austrian values and later shared them with the country they left behind (p.10). During this world-wide pandemic, we look to the Romanian women who come to Austria to take care of the elderly and at their essential role in our social system. But there’s so much more to learn from being At Home in Someone Else’s House (p.20).

One thing Romania does tragically well is exporting talent. One such super star is from the heart of Transylvania. Now world famous, the soprano Anita Hartig won Austrian hearts at her international debut at the Wiener Staatsoper (p.26). Allow my to correct myself: We export talent and brains. Three Romanian entrepreneurs are the living proof as they continue to flourish in and shape Vienna’s startup ecosystem (p.34).

The September issue would not be complete without the culture and history Romanians introduced and made here (p.40), some culinary delights (p.30), and of course, a truffle-hunting expedition in Europe’s last ancient woodland: Transylvania (p.46).

We, the Romanians of Vienna, are here to stay. In this issue, we share our passions and our pride. Come discover the city with us and see it through our eyes – Romanian Vienna waits for you.

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