Identity Issues

Ausweis, bitte.” (ID please) The theater clerk’s smile slides into an incredulous hard line as she takes my University of Vienna ID to validate my student discount

By Amanda Kontor

Despite the protective plastic cover, its long body is bent out of shape, with dog-eared corners bearing witness to its famous incompatibility with seemingly any wallet. The clerk grants me my discount and returns my ID, but not before another chortle at my expense – and how can I blame her? The orange cardboard ID may be an iconic part of Austrian academic life, but it’s an absolute relic.

When I first moved to Vienna – and before I started having exchanges like this regularly – I toted my newly acquired student ID around in bliss, in no small part because it matched the old-world image I projected onto the city. To me, the handwritten Matrikelnummer, glued-in passport photo and Admissions Office stamp were just as nostalgic as the traditional coffeehouses, classic trams, and horse-trodden cobblestones that I’d been expecting.

For the University of Vienna, which has issued them since at least the early 1900s, the cardboard ID card is anything but a nostalgic throwback. In fact, it was well past the recent 650th anniversary of Vienna’s Hauptuni when it joined the rest of the city’s universities in the 21st century and upgraded its IDs to a plastic model—the u:card.

Now, students and faculty members patiently await the delivery of their new, blank, credit card-sized white ID’s, which they’ll have to scan into machines on campus to complete. And while keeping something in your pocket that Sigmund Freud was familiar with was undoubtedly delightful, it’s hard not to sweep that feeling aside for the satisfaction that comes with sliding the new u:card so effortlessly into your wallet—without any dirty looks from a theater clerk.

 

Amanda Kontor
Amanda Kontor is a Polish-American transplant in Vienna who writes for work, play, and the defense of the Oxford comma.

Help us help you

“Strong media and independent journalism are built on the shoulders of subscribers. Your support means the world to us.

Benjamin Wolf
COO & Managing Editor

The coronavirus outbreak affects and challenges your life in big and small ways. Metropole is here for you and we are proud to be your news source during this crisis.

But just as the coronavirus has increased the need for independent journalism, it has also undercut a major revenue source of media companies, ours included – advertising.

We need your support to keep it up – donate or subscribe and #helpushelpyou!

Support Metropole!


 

RECENT Articles

Hometown Explorers

As travel restrictions eviscerate Vienna’s hospitality sector, the city’s tour guides show locals the oddities, hidden spots and secrets of the city they call home.

Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | The Government Emphasizes More Regional M...

The coronavirus has arrived in Austria. Here’s all you need to know about current measures, including where to get help, information and tips – updated regularly.

How Romanian Artists Found Inspiration in Vienna

Throughout the ages, Vienna was a nexus for the literary, artistic, scientific and cultural creativity of many Romanians.

Torches on the Hill – Ultra-Conservatives March on the Kahlenberg

The Kahlenberg Church stands where an allied army gathered at dawn September 12, 1683 before sweeping down from the hills to break the Turkish siege of Vienna. Today it is both a cause for celebration and a rallying point for dubious arch-conservative fringe groups.

In Safety and Freedom, Romanian Entrepreneurs Found Success in Vienna

Romanians’ entrepreneurial spirit, long suppressed under the communist regime, is experiencing a renaissance – it can be felt even in Vienna.

SALONFÄHIG – Austrian Vintages That Hold Their Own Anywhere

The annual Wine Salon in Palais Coburg presented a tough jury's selection of the best of the current year. The setting was magnificent, the wines too.
 

METROPOLE NEWSLETTER

Join over 5,000 Metropolitans, who already get monthly news updates and event invitations.