The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

RANDOM NOMAD: Wendy Williams, Canadian Expat in Austria

Place of birth: Northern Ontario, Canada
Passport: Canadian, and apparently I can live in Austria forever now with my unlimited Aufenhaltsbewilligung.
Overseas history: Austria (present), Germany, Switzerland, Slovak Republic, UK. I have also worked on a project basis for extended periods in Sweden, Tunisia, Holland and Estonia.
Occupation: Author*
Cyberspace coordinates: The Glolo Blog; The Globalisation of Love (Facebook page); and @WilliamsGloLo (Twitter handle)
*Wendy Williams is the author of The Globalisation of Love, one of the top books for expats in 2011.

What made you leave your homeland in the first place?
Burning curiosity! I just love to know what is around the next corner — and the corner after that, too. My grandparents are all immigrants to Canada from Europe, and I guess listening to their stories about their homelands got me thinking that “home” can be very different and it can be anywhere.

Is anyone else in your family “displaced” besides your grandparents?
I am the only of my siblings who went back across the pond, as my grandmother would say — though they certainly come to visit me in Austria (and to ski!).

You’ve lived in quite a few places in Europe before moving to Vienna with your Austrian husband. Does any one moment of that time abroad stand out as your “most displaced”?
While vacationing on one of the Canary Islands, which belong to Spain, I fell ill and required an injection in my, ahem, gluteus maximus. It was 1995, when the so-called Turbot War took place between Canada and Spain — a dispute over fishing rights along the coast of Canada that challenged international diplomatic relations between the two countries. The doctor held up the rather long needle and said, “So, you’re from Canada are you? You like to fish?” I remember thinking, “Uh-oh, this is going to hurt!” It may be conjecture, but I felt the jab of the needle was particularly forceful.

Is there any particular moment that stands out as your “least displaced”?
It happens all the time while skiing in Austria. I grew up skiing on a tiny little bump of a hill and always dreamed about the long alpine slopes of Austria. I was lucky enough to marry an Austrian who is also a passionate skier, and we ski frequently throughout the winter. I feel right at home as I swish, swish down the slopes. I enjoy the après ski, too!

You may bring one curiosity you’ve collected from your adopted country into The Displaced Nation. What’s in your suitcase?
From Georgia in the Caucasus: Antique brass candle holders
From Murano, a series of islands in the Venetian Lagoon: A red Murano chandelier
From Morocco: An onyx stone bathroom sink
From Austria: An 18th-century Tyrolean kitchen table
From France: A yellow ceramic Pernot jug
My house is a diary of my travels through life, and as you can see, I plan to continue living that way on The Displaced Nation — even though it will entail dragging in a rather large and heavy suitcase!

You are invited to prepare one meal based on your travels for other members of The Displaced Nation. What’s on your menu?

Appetizer: My husband’s pumpkin soup with 100% pure Austrian pumpkin seed oil
Salad: Arugula mixed salad with blue cheese, grapes, cranberries, pear and pistachios — as served at the Loriot in Washington, D.C.
Main course: Viennese Schnitzel with potato salad … of course!
Dessert: My mom’s lemon meringue pie
Drinks: Bubbly to start — Crémant d’Alsace is one of my favourites; and for the main course, red wine from Burgenland in Austria.

And now you may add a word or expression from the country where you live in to The Displaced Nation argot. What will you loan us?
Actually, I would like to loan you an expression that my husband picked it up while living in Australia: Happy as Larry. (I picked it up from him while living in Austria.)

This month we are looking into parties and celebrations abroad. What has been your most memorable party or celebration since you became “displaced” from your native land?
The celebration of my 10th wedding anniversary, in 2008! My husband and I had about 50 friends in a small restaurant in Vienna that served elegant, locally-sourced organic food. An opera singer sang “‘O Sole Mio” so beautifully we thought the wine glasses would burst like in a cartoon. We gave a speech about our 10 years together and then announced what we had planned for the upcoming years — I was four months pregnant. The crowd went wild with excitement and gave a 10-minute standing ovation amongst congratulatory hugs, tears and high fives. It was total kitsch and corny Hollywood romance — and we loved every minute of it!

The Displaced Nation has just turned one year old. Can you give us some advice on themes to cover in our second year — anything you think should be on our radar?
Multicultural couples — what I call GloLo couples — usually meet in interesting ways. Chance and coincidence often conspire to bring two people together. It would be fun if The Displaced Nation could feature some stories from GloLo couples about how they met — and whether their displaced lives brought them together — and how they worked things out so they can stay together.

Editor’s note: In February Wendy Williams contributed a post to The Displaced Nation that has remained very popular: Why “expat” is a misleading term for multicultural couples.

Readers — yay or nay for letting Wendy William into The Displaced Nation? Tell us your reasons. (Note: It’s fine to vote “nay” as long as you couch your reasoning in terms we all — including Wendy — find amusing.)

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s installment from our displaced fictional heroine, Libby, as she discovers that Oliver’s mum and her own mother have more in common than she’d realized. (What, not keeping up with Libby? Read the first three episodes of her expat adventures.)

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to register for The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with seasonal recipes, book giveaways and other extras. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

Related posts:

img: Wendy wrapped up against the elements — but is she in Austria, her adopted home, or Northern Ontario, her birthplace? (Hint: It was minus 25 degrees Celsius.)

6 responses to “RANDOM NOMAD: Wendy Williams, Canadian Expat in Austria

  1. Kate Allison April 12, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    I love Austria — such fond memories, as it was the first country my husband and I visited together before we were married :) All the Apfelstrudel mit Schlagsahne was probably the start of the midriff rot, though. The animosity between the Austrians and Germans was both amusing and disconcerting…our bus was driving along some mountain roads, when it had to swerve for a German car. “Typisch Deutsch!” shouted our driver; then, as I fell about laughing behind him, he turned rather red when he realised not *all* the British passengers were ignorant of other European languages…

    Aye!

  2. cheeriet April 14, 2012 at 6:08 am

    Aye!
    It’s so long since I visited Austria – the last time I was there they still had cigarette vending machines on the outside walls of buildings! Apparently they were deliberately fixed quite high up, so that younger children couldn’t use them… Ha! I was there when the twin towers went down – in an ice cave, as far from civilisation as it’s possible to get in a civilised country! It wasn’t till later that night, sitting in MacDonalds (drinking a beer!) that I slowly came to understand the world had changed dramatically whilst I’d been away…

  3. ML Awanohara April 17, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Hmmm… To be honest, I had my doubts about Wendy’s citizenship papers when she first applied to The Displaced Nation for residency. A Canadian in Austria doesn’t sound very displaced to me! You’ve got mountains — and skiing — in both places! But then I noticed her menu. It really is the most extraordinary blend of North American and Austrian. And who knew that the Austrians specialized in pumpkin seed oil? I will therefore join the rest in voting “yay”! :)

  4. Sandra Millar June 1, 2012 at 10:40 am

    As a Canadian – I agree with “ML” above about the mountains and skiing being a total draw to being in Austria. Went to Kitzbul on a skiing vacation eons ago. Loved getting up at daybreak and putting on the ski boots .. head for the gondola – Breakfast in the outdoors sitting on a cozy padded chair on a patio eating pancakes and sausages – and drinking in the sunshine and watching all the skiers “shush” down “white – icing sugar” snow covered mountains. Could see me moving to Austria in retirement … NO PROBLEM !!! I vote “Yay”, for this travelling Canuck!

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