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Austria 2011

Travel index

Useful things learned . . .

Austria 2011 - or, Two Americans with Very Little German Between Them Move to Innsbruck for Four Months

Preparations . . .


Julian (husband) is on the biology faculty at Winthrop University in Rock Hill. His areas of research are:

  • Ecology and Systematics of Marine Meiofauna
  • Evolution and Function of Stem-cell Systems in Lower Bilaterians

Diane (wife) is a freelance writer.

Julian's mentor, friend, and doctoral advisor was Reinhard Rieger, the late head of the Institute for Zoology at the University of Innsbruck.

During the last meeting of the International Society of Flatworm Biologists, Julian was invited by Peter Ladurner of the Institute to do a semester of research in Innsbruck. Winthrop gave permission, so we found ourselves moving to Austria for a semester.

Update, 2 January 2011: It's our last night in the States until May 13, 2011. Two of the kids ("kids" aged 21 to 31) and four of their friends, children, and significant others are now in charge of the house and the animals.


One of my hopes for these pages is that they will be of help to other Americans moving temporarily to Europe. Check the "Useful things learned" section on each page.

I also hope to give everyone some idea of what this experience has been like for us. We're enjoying this; I hope you will enjoy travelling with us.

University of Innsbruck
The University of Innsbruck.

Thanks to our friend Peter Ladurner at the Institute there, we have found a wonderful apartment to rent.

Note: This turned out to be really, really lucky. It's incredibly hard to find an apartment in Innsbruck, and nearly impossible if you are (as we were) arriving at the height of the ski season.

Serendiptously, Anil (a post-doc at the University) had gone in to see the department secretary to tell her that he was looking for someone to sublease his apartment while he was out of the country, because he really didn't want to lose it and then have to look for another when he got back.

The next day, Peter went in to the secretary to tell her he had a couple coming to stay in Innsbruck and ask her if she knew of anyone looking to sublet.

Innsbruck apartment
However, before one can spend more than three months in Austria, one must first apply for a visa. This can only be done in person at the nearest Austrian consulate . . .
Austrian consulate in D.C.
. . . which for us is at the Austrian Embassy . . .
Austrian embassy
. . . in Washington, D.C. Here, one applies for a Schengen visa, which is a visa that lets you into all the countries that have signed the Schengen Agreement. It is the correct visa if you are staying in Austria for more than three and fewer than six months.
Julian and I never mind a trip to D.C. and we never go to D.C. without a visit to the museums, like the Smithsonian.
And this time, for the first time since 1972, we also visited the Natonal Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
With the sudden realization that we leave in little more than a week, one of us has become obsessed with the weather in Innsbruck. The other has started to panic.
Suitcases and stuff
More to come . . .


Useful things learned:

  • It is really, really hard to find an apartment in Innsbruck when you are not actually in Innsbruck. If you do not have a friend in Innsbruck to help you, your best bet probably is to go through a site like
  • Before you go to the consulate, you first call them. The phone number is listed on the web site, and each phone call costs €12,70, for which you will need to have your credit card handy. However, the people you are talking to do not actually work at the consulate. And, alas, not everything they tell you may be accurate, and there may be a thing or two they leave out. For example:
    • We were told we would need to bring our application fee in exact change, and in Euros. So we did. When we got there, we found out we needed to have our application fee, in exact change, in dollars.
    • We were not told that we needed to bring a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope for the consulate to use in sending us our visas. I notice that this information has now been added to the web site, but I didn't see it at the time (despite printing out that page and using it as a check list), and they did not mention this on the phone.
  • The Consulate does not make appointments for visa applications. You just show up. Make sure you check their list of holidays before you turn up, though, with your 18 documents and your fees in exact change, dollars. The Consulate is closed for U.S. and Austrian holidays.
  • Wanna stay cheaply and conveniently in the D.C. area? We rented a cabin in Pohick Bay Regional Park, and caught the Metro in.

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Living in Austria 2011
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