Argentina and Austria have a lot more in common than being at the start of an alphabetical list. They are both important nations on the world stage, they both have strong research cultures and they share a love of good food and a sense of the importance of the wider family. Moving from Argentina to Austria is still a big change though and there are some things you can watch out for to make the transition as smooth as possible. From visiting manners to rules out in public, you can crack this easily. No country contains only one type of people and personalities vary but there are some definite trends that can help you identify shortcuts to an easier move.
1. A big difference that you will probably notice quite quickly is that Austrians are more formal than most Argentinians. They will be friendly but it will be within the structure of polite conversation and the social rules of the setting. They may refer to you as Frau or Herr, Sir or Madam, for longer than you are used to. They aren’t necessarily being stiff and unfriendly, this just seems more courteous to them. They will often be restrained with compliments and more flustered by any open compliments or light flirting in a public setting. Don’t worry though, they aren’t frosty by nature, this melts away on closer acquaintance.
2. Work cultures are hierarchical. You might be used to liaising quite freely with your immediate boss and your immediate subordinates. Austrian work cultures tend to be quite structured, to begin with. You should refer to your boss by their official title and surname to begin with unless they explicitly tell you to call them by their first name. It isn’t that you won’t have come across anyone who does this at home, but it is the norm in Austria. The formality even extends to a preference for highly regimented meetings and making appointments well in advance.
3. Your dress sense will be appreciated, but do up an extra button. Argentinians and Austrians share a reputation for elegant dressing. No sweatpants and dirty sneakers in either camp unless you’re heading to the gym. Austrians are a shade more conservative though, so be slightly more careful so that your creative flair stays appropriate. For work, stick to muted colours and patterns.
4. Austrians rely more on formal qualifications and statistical detail than informal support networks. You might normally talk to a new business associate about your shared friends, call on them for favours and do them favours yourself. In Austria, avoid the informal support network and emphasize your degrees and your business record specifically, they prefer independent verification to a trust-based reference. They will be delighted to learn about shared connections later, but this should always come later.
5. Some people in Europe can be very tactile but this doesn’t apply in Austria. Until you are close to someone, you would expect to maintain your personal space. In some situations, you will find that it isn’t possible, like a crowded train. In those situations, you will normally join the local residents in scrupulously avoiding eye contact and maintaining whatever space you can.
Don’t overthink it, you might be out of your comfort zone but you’ll blend it seamlessly in no time.