Moving to a new city can be exciting and challenging, but how can you tell when your new city has become home? Is it when you process your paperwork or is it after a certain number of months? For me, I think it is more of a gradual change when the local culture eventually becomes a part of your everyday life. Before moving to Villach, the terms “Dobratsch, Gail, and Gerlitzen” meant nothing to me, but now they are words that I associate with home.
So how can you tell if you are adjusted to the Villach life? Pour yourself a glass of Villacher Märzen and read for 5 Signs you are Becoming a Villach Local. As the saying goes, “if you can’t beat them, join them” or in German “Wenn du sie nicht schlagen kannst, verbünde dich mit ihnen.”
The Kärntner Dialekt is a matter of pride for locals and is a part of everyday life. Don’t expect to learn the Carinthian dialect in your German class, this language is something you have to pick up from a conversation. I’ll never forget the first time someone told me that I had to pay “zwa Euro” at a shop. I was so confused because that was a number I had not learned yet. I asked the shop attendant to please write down the number for me because I did not understand. Imagine my surprise when I realized she was saying, “zwei” the German number for two - ha! If you have lived in Villach for awhile, you can anticipate that the occasional “Ga?” or “Na!” will sneak into your German. Don’t worry about corrupting your “Hochdeutsch,” locals will appreciate you learning the dialect.
If you live in Villach, you know that Kirchtag is one of the highlights of the year and you are prepared with your very own Trachten. Trachten is traditional Austrian folk clothing and consists of Lederhosen and Dirndls. Since Villacher Kirchtag is a renowned folk festival throughout Austria, it is important that you come dressed for the festivities. At Villacher Kirchtag this year, my husband opted not to wear his Lederhosen and was shamed by his friend from Villach. As his friend said, “there are five seasons in Villach - Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer, and Kirchtag! You must come dressed for the season!”
If you ask a local what they did this weekend, chances are they will mention something to do with sport. Austrians are renowned for their love of the outdoors and Villach is no exception. Due to its proximity to mountains and lakes, sport is a way of life in Villach. Many people take advantage of the local bike trails and regularly cycle to work. On a sunny day, the parks are filled with people enjoying an afternoon walk. There is no lack of sports opportunities in the Villach area, whether you enjoy curling or cricket there is an opportunity to get active.
Easter without Reindling - unimaginable! A proper Brettljause without Glundner Käse - shameful! While you may have never heard of Carinthian cuisine before moving to Villach, it is hard to avoid it once you are here. Carinthian’s are proud of their food and it is hard to find a guest house in Villach that doesn’t have Käsenudeln on the menu. There are several annual food festivals in the area including Gailtaler Speckfest in Hermagor for smoked ham, Polentafest in Nötsch for corn grits, and Salamifest in Eberndorf for you guessed it, salami!
Part of the fun of living in a new city is getting excited about local sports leagues. EC VSV is the Villach ice hockey team and it is a great way to get involved in Villach life. EC VSV games take place in Autumn and Winter and many people flock to the Stadthalle to catch the game. EC VSV’s longterm rival is EC KAC from the nearby city of Klagenfurt. Rivalries always make games more interesting and I have to admit that I have enjoyed rooting for the home team at games! Let’s go EC VSV!
It has been almost two years since I have moved to Villach and it is funny to think about how much I have adapted to the local culture since moving here. Am I true “Villacher” yet? Only time will tell, but I know that I have come to appreciate the city that I now call home.
Chelsea Navarro is an American expat from California, USA.
She has lived in Villach with her partner and dog since February, 2016. She enjoys exploring the Austrian wilderness, drinking Villacher beer and traveling around Europe.