My favorite thing

My wonderful friend Pam arrived in Vienna today, along with her 4 year old son, Joshua.  I am so excited to see them — it’s almost surreal to have them visit us here.  We’ve had a lovely day so far of catching up and talking — she’s telling me what’s been going on at home, I’ve been sharing what it’s like to live in Vienna.  At one point, she asked me, “What’s your favorite thing about Vienna?”

An ironic question, but I gave it some thought.  At first, I thought of the Christmas markets, and then I mentioned that I love how safe it is here.  But I kept thinking about it, and realized that my absolute favorite thing about living in Vienna is the lifestyle.

I love that it’s not just accepted, but expected, that people will put time with their family ahead of their work.  The profession you practice doesn’t define you here — people have as their priority their leisure and family time, and they fit work into that, rather than the reverse.  The culture focuses on time spent together, rather than on the activity.  Life happens at a slower, less hurried pace, and people stop to help each other when they need it — it’s almost a social obligation.

This is exactly what I needed to witness in my life.  I needed to be exposed to a different way of doing things, to see how well it can work to focus first on what is truly most important.  I’m learning to adopt some of these lessons in my own life (at least, I hope I am) and I’m really grateful for it.  That’s my favorite thing about Vienna . . . so far.