A quick-and-dirty synopsis of last month’s Austrian News.

The Viennese (Anti-)Terror Wall

Austrian tabloid media – and journalist pundits on Twitter – were up in arms last month about construction in front of the Federal Chancellery and the Office of the President on Ballhausplatz. Dubbed “terror wall” by indignant observers, they railed against a project, conceived of in March 2015 and costing €360,000, with the intention of securing the area against terrorist attacks. The wall was in fact planned to consist of five blocks, each 80 cm high,1 m wide and in total 40 m long. Still, after public outrage decried the “mutliation” of the historic square, the Federal Chancellery and the Office of the President agreed to replace the planned barrier with 42 bollards
– costing €488,000.

Need to know

Austria’s tabloids wield a disproportional influence, particularly in more parochial matters.

What others said

“Berlin 1989: David Hasselhoff sings and the wall crumbles. Vienna 2017: David Hasselhoff sings and the wall crumbles. #mauergate”– Tweet by Mathias Neumayr (@apo_), September 8, referring to the affair and David Hasselhoff playing a concert in Austria on September 2.

Back to School

On Monday, September 4, the school bells heralded the beginning of a new school year in Vienna. After 9 weeks of summer holidays, a total of 225,000 pupils got their chance to “learn for life, not just for school” – or were just happy to see their friends again. Some 17,000 Taferlklassler (first-graders) will start their school career.

Roughly 25,000 teachers at 702 Viennese schools are tasked with fanning the flames of knowledge in their pupils. Almost half of all compulsory schools now offer after-school programs, making them Ganztagesschulen (full day schools). A controversial concept on the national level, full day schools are a priority for the City of Vienna, which sees them as a way to offer the same educational opportunities to every child.

Need to know

Drive carefully around schools (maximum 30 km/h) and observe the slightly more relaxed expressions on parents’ faces – and possibly some tears.

What others said

“The education prospects of children still depend far too much on the wallet of their parents.” – Jürgen Czernohorszky (SPÖ), Executive CityCouncillorforEducation, Youth and Personnel

Expats Prize Austria’s Quality of Life, Denounce Unfriendliness

An Expat Insider study by InterNations ranked Austria as one of the unfriendliest countries for expats to acclimate to, but security and political stability remain strong motivations for moving here. While Austria continues to be a popular destination for expats, the study released in early September also named it the second hardest country to settle into, ranking it in 64th place – only one slot ahead of Denmark, which is dead last – and the second unfriendliest country, followed by Kuwait.

Globally, 42% of polled expats reported having easily found new friends in their respective host countries, while the number is only 25% for those residing here. Yet, Austria remains a highly valued destination for its security, political stability, education, and healthcare system – 9 out of 10 polled expats (88%) think that Austria is a secure country, 78% deem it politically stable, 84% value the quality of health care and 89% consider the education system’s quality to be high. In Austria, only 92 expats were polled, which is a sample of only limited statistical value.

Need to know

Some expats find it rather hard to settle into Austria, many of them see language as the main obstacle. One of many ways METROPOLE hopes to help, just subscribe here!

What others said

“Nobody likes to be penultimate. But just maybe, some Austrians took silent pride in it. Almost the unfriendliest country in the world, who else can pull that off? (Except Kuwait).” – Mirjam Marits, Austrian journalist, Die Presse

Extended U1 Newly Opened

At 19.2 km, Vienna’s new longest metro line will be the U1. It is now five stations longer, stretching over 4.6 km, running from Leopoldau in the eastern to Oberlaa in the southern suburbs. Construction began in summer 2012 and took five years, costing a total of €600 million. On September 2, a round of grandees including Vienna’s mayor Michael Häupl, Chancellor Christian Kern and Executive City Councillor for the Environment and Public Utilities Ulli Sima (all SPÖ) opened the new stretch of the line. The five new stations are Trostrasse, Altes Landgut, Alaudagasse, Neulaa and Oberlaa.

Need to know

You can now go all the way to Therme Oberlaa without ever leaving the U-Bahn.

What others said

“Expanding the public transport network of the city guarantees clean air, fewer traffic jams and better quality of life.” – Maria Vassilakou, Vienna’s vice-mayor (Green Party)