Thursday, 26 November 2015

Welcome to Salzburg

Inspired by the "Refugee Guide" for Germany and with good intention, the city of Salzburg has just published a "welcome guide" for "new Salzburg residents" to give answers to the many questions "repeatedly asked by many refugees".

You learn that in Austria, people are punctual, say "Grüß Gott" when they greet each other, shake hands, and that children have a right to an upbringing free of violence. Smiling does not necessarily mean flirting, spitting on the ground in public is not tolerated (I wished), religion is considered a private matter (one may still wonder why the registration office includes religious affiliation among the few questions it asks or why hospitals in Austria ask about name, address, telephone number ... and religion), Austrians use toilets instead of urinating in public and afterwards wash their hands.
"It is an offence to urinate in public. You will usually find a public toilet in the vicinity. Toilets usually provide toilet paper, but not bidets. Toilet paper is disposed of in the toilet, not in the rubbish bin next to the toilet. However, sanitary items for women, such as tampons or towels, are disposed of in the rubbish bin next to the toilet. Any residue in the toilet should be removed using the toilet brush. The toilets should be kept as clean and dry as possible. That´s why the toilets should be sat on when used. Where there are no urinals, this also applies to men. For reasons of hygiene, it is important to wash your hands after using the toilet."

Refugees also learn where to stand on escalators, to separate waste instead of throwing it on the ground, that tap water is delicious, not to "kiss or caress the nice children of your neighbours" or "offer them sweets", that haggling over prices in supermarkets is not acceptable, and that staring at people who wear short trousers or mini skirts in summer is impolite. And then there is some information that manages to be useful without being offensive (e.g. from to which age education is compulsory, important telephone numbers, etc.). The photograph on the cover of the booklet shows a couple of people with their thumbs up - a popular gesture in Austria (particularly among Austrian politicians) and probably not the most adequate choice in a transcultural setting where it is no secret that it is considered to be one of the gestures to avoid (e.g. viavia)

"About this guide
This guide is aimed at visitors, refugees and future citizens of Austria. It should make it easier for you to settle in and understand the country’s rules and customs. The purpose of this guide is to offer useful information.
We are aware that some of the information may be considered presumptuous or derogatory. This was continuously critically queried and reflected during the preparation of the document. In order to counter this uncertainty, the guide was drawn up in close collaboration with people from the most varied of countries (with people from Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Egypt, Palestine and other countries; as well as with people who have recently immigrated to Austria).
Some of the content was taken from the "Refugee Guide". This has been judged by the ProAsyl Germany (based on the English version) to be faultless, and many immigrants have mentioned that they would have liked such an information brochure.
The guide has been adapted by representatives of the central/integration office of the city of Salzburg. Thank you to for providing the foundations for the guide."

And now for something slightly different: The University of Salzburg published a "welcome guide" for international students in 2008. The first part of the booklet is about the university system, tuition, courses, scholarships, etc. The second part is about living in Salzburg. Instead of telling international students not to urinate in public and to use cutlery when eating in restaurants, it starts with the location of Salzburg, the city "Where Mozart Was At Home", the climate (and famous Salzburg rain), the city's history and famous people, and the fabulous sweets. It continues with entry regulations for EU/EEA countries and Non-EU/EEA countries, residence requirements, health insurance, accommodation, everyday life (working, shopping, getting around), communication, attractions, sports, art, and culture. This guide may have been an inspirational choice.

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- (n.d.) A Guide for Orientation and Communication in Germany. pdf
- Stadt Salzburg (2015). Welcome Guide. Tips & Information for New Salzburg Residents. pdf
- Universität Salzburg (2008). Welcome Guide. Studium in Salzburg. pdf
- images "Hopscotch" (1980) with Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson, shot in the U.S., UK, Germany, and Salzburg via


  1. Replies
    1. Quite disturbing... particularly the "good intention".
      Thanks, Derek! :-)

  2. Love the lobby cards!

    1. They are amazing... Love the film, too.
      Thanks, Wim!

  3. Oh, Walter! I miss you so.

    1. What an adorable person he was...
      Holy moly, blogger has changed the layout again - glad you found the comment section. Thanks, Karen!

  4. business and personal webpages from austria.