‘Sometimes the hardest thing to do is ask’

Nick Schwarz, a 23-year-old from Portland, Oregon, is a reporter for the current affairs programme Reality Check, at FM4 radio in Vienna. The Local talked to him about why he came to Austria.

'Sometimes the hardest thing to do is ask'
Photo: Nick Schwarz
Nick first came to Vienna in 2013 with the University of Oregon on a Journalism studying abroad programme, which provided him with an internship at FM4 radio station, at the ORF. 
1. Did you ever think that your internship abroad in Vienna would turn into a job?
I came first not knowing what to expect. When I left Vienna last time I wondered if I would ever get to see this amazing city again. I kept thinking I needed to find a way back. I saw that one of these ways would be through FM4 which was one of my internships last year.
I sent a few emails and got a yes. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is ask because you are afraid the answer could be no. It happened to be yes this time!
2. What was the most challenging part of moving to a foreign country?
The most challenging part is leaving everything and everyone you know from back home. It's like you have to redefine your life and yourself when you move. Once again you feel like the new kid at school and that can be both stressful and exhausting.
3. How do people react when you tell them you are from America?
Almost everyone is very friendly. There are always a few people who really try to drive the stereotypes they have of the United States into you. That can be frustrating. No, I don't want to talk about guns and racism. The United States is so big and culture can shift dramatically from one side to the other. I feel that we, as Americans, can get easily thrown into one big pot in the eyes of others.
4. What's your favourite thing about Viennese people?
I can mostly speak only for the Viennese that are my age group. I think they have a maturity about them that we don't develop until later in the United States. Most of them that I've met balance their jobs alongside school and are generally more adult in terms of running their own lives. I think this is a cultural thing as well – not having to pay for university gives them an easier time out of college.
5. What do you like most about living in Vienna?
Being exotic! No, the best part is breaking down these barriers that we as human beings are so good at building. Thinking about Europeans, we [Americans] have a certain set of characteristics that pop into our head. 'Oh, they must be really cultured or they probably dislike America… '
We differentiate ourselves from them way more than is actually the case. I don't know how many times I've felt like, wow I think you would totally fit in in Portland! And vice versa. Vienna feels like a second home and the longer I've stayed the more I love it.

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