“Any doubts I had about moving to such a foreign culture from my own were quickly allayed when I arrived: Shanghai presented itself as a very open, supportive and livable city. I received a warm welcome and am quickly feeling at home,” she told the Shanghai Daily.
Having read a lot about China and Shanghai before coming, Neureiter said she is particularly impressed with the city's architecture.
“Coming from Austria, where we are proud of our architectural heritage, Shanghai with its incredible skyscrapers is a huge change for me,” she says. “It makes Austrian cities feel very small by comparison. I find Shanghai at night particularly beautiful, when all the buildings are lit up.”
Neureiter was born in Graz, the capital of Styria, which is a southern province nicknamed “the green heart of Austria” for its wonderful forests.
Previously she has been posted to Belgrade (Serbia), Luxembourg, Sofia (Bulgaria) and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).
In 2013, the bilateral trade volume between China and Austria reached a record level of €9.8 billion as a result of close cooperation between Austrian and Chinese companies and business leaders.
“Both large, small and medium-sized companies from Austria have discovered the advantages from such cooperation,” Neureiter said. “China’s economic and environmental goals are a part of this, as Austrian expertise and know-how are considered a valuable commodity in China.”
Austria is also a favourite destination for Chinese travellers. “We have musical and cultural events throughout the year, which people from all over the world attend,” Neureiter said. “Salzburg and Vienna are already famous in China, but there are also many smaller cities such as Graz, Bregenz, Linz and Klagenfurt that offer wonderful music events and beautiful architecture.”
In Shanghai for only three months, Neureiter says she has not yet had the opportunity to travel around China. She enjoys traveling tremendously, however, and she has already purchased all the China travel guides she could find in Vienna.
“This is one of the things I’m most looking forward to,” she said. “You have so many world heritage sites and fantastic countryside and history here.”
In her free time, Neureiter also enjoys reading and strolling through the streets, watching life unfold.
“This is a special joy in China, where much of life is lived on the street rather than behind closed doors,” she said.
Her latest hobby is learning how to write and speak Chinese, spending every morning learning from a list of Chinese vocabulary.
And through events such as the Austrian Days and the Viennese Ball in June, the consul general is able to share Austrian culture with China.
It's the second Viennese Ball to be held in Shanghai, and will take place at the Hyatt on the Bund hotel on June 7th. The Schönbrunn Palace Orchestra will perform the music of Franz Léhar.
It’s customary for Austrian children to learn ballroom dancing at an early age and to experience their first ball at the age of 16, where the girls dance as debutantes, officially marking their introduction into society.
“Last year’s ballet performances proved so popular among our Chinese guests that we asked [Austrian ballet dancer] Gregor Hatala to return again this year,” said Neureiter.
“We are offering Chinese guests the possibility to experience a traditional Viennese ball in the comfort of their own city, to immerse themselves in our culture and history for a night,” she added.