Samuel Heger decided to leave Switzerland to boost his career. In Vienna, he finally found true love. As a Swiss abroad, he regrets not being able to vote online. Here's his story.
swissinfo.ch: When and why did you leave Switzerland? How did your first few months in Vienna go?
Samuel Heger: In the fall of 2011, I had the opportunity to start a new job in Vienna. I told myself a few years abroad couldn't hurt, and that I could always come back to Switzerland. I had to quickly quit my job and my shared apartment in Zurich. By chance, I found a little apartment in Vienna's third district.
Surprisingly, I found my bearings in the city quite easily. As a Swiss citizen, I was always welcome everywhere. I made friends quickly and felt at home from day one.
Since then, there have been many changes in my life. I fell in love and got engaged, I learned to know and love this city and this country, and I was also able to develop personally and expand my horizons.
swissinfo.ch: What is you career path? Why Austria?
S.H.: Already in Switzerland, I worked in the sales department of Austrian Airlines. After stints with Lufthansa and Swiss, I had the opportunity to be assigned to the main office of Austrian Airlines in Vienna, where I was in charge of introducing wireless internet on short and medium-haul flights.
swissinfo.ch: Where do you live? How has that been, especially in terms of the local cuisine?
S.H.: At the moment, I live with my fiancée in Vienna's 21st district, which is an area situated near the Old Danube – a former branch of the Danube. It's an ideal place to swim in the summer, to relax and do sports. We're still in the heart of the city and connected to the metro network. The "Wienerwald" (Vienna Forest) is also easily accessible by bike from the house.
Obviously, Vienna offers infinite possibilities to go taste traditional Austrian cuisine. But the thing I appreciate above all is Austrian hospitality.
swissinfo.ch: What is more attractive in Austria than in Switzerland?
S.H.: Personally, I find that daily life is less agitated in Vienna and Austria in general. The famous Viennese "Gemütlichkeit" (atmosphere) and Austrian charm really speak to me. For example, I never felt I needed to follow a trend here.
Vienna seems to me to have a certain tranquility. Maybe the Gustav Mahler quote – "If one day the world collapsed, I would move to Vienna, because there it would occur 50 years later" – is not totally exaggerated.
swissinfo.ch: How do you feel today about Switzerland?
S.H.: Switzerland is my country, I am proud of it and I owe it a lot. To me it represents reliability, stability, economic success, and independence.
swissinfo.ch: What is the political situation in Austria? Are you interested in local politics?
S.H.: I'm interested in politics, and I see a difference. Certainly, the political situation is stable and I don't feel personal disadvantages compared to Switzerland. But on the other hand, I miss the involvement of the population in political decision-making that we have in Switzerland.
swissinfo.ch: Do you participate in Swiss elections and votes?
S.H.: For awhile, I could vote online as a Swiss abroad. So I didn't miss one vote or election. Unfortunately, there is no longer the possibility to vote online. I must admit that now I only vote on issues that seem really important to me.
swissinfo.ch: What do you miss most about Switzerland?
S.H.: On a material level, nothing. When it comes to landscape and culture, Austria is quite similar to Switzerland. Of course, when you live abroad, you miss family and friends. But as my family and friends also really like Vienna and the distance isn't too far, I am happy to be able to have regular visits from Switzerland.