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My arrival in Austria

As a New Zealander, Austria or even Europe is a very foreign place. It’s a place I’ve only seen on the news, read about or maybe even heard of a friend of a friend that might travel there in “18 months or so…”.

The concept of moving and living there was unheard of. After one year I went from my first ever graduate job to a South-East Asia backpacking adventure which eventually lead me to starting a life in Europe. I went from just a normal lad in New Zealand to exploring interesting architecture in Austria, venturing to Oktoberfest in Munich and sitting beside the amazing Venice Canals in Italy, drinking local Italian wine with an amazing girl…


Jonny Balchin from Winging It podcast holding Maria

The most crucial aspect is being numb to pessimism and try to focus only on optimism.

When I landed In Austria, I arrived in Vienna. Luckily, I made friends with a lad on my flight that was actually from Salzburg. He helped me catch a train from Vienna to Salzburg. We sat on the train together and at this point in time It came to realization that I was no longer in an English speaking country, the climate was the opposite of tropical and I was about to meet the parents of the girl I was deeply in love with. Strangely, this realization was not a shock nor was it scary for me, I was in one of the best mindsets of my life, I was ready for any circumstance because I was one hundred percent confident in myself and who I was.

After an almost 3 hour train ride I arrived in arrived at the stop where I was supposed to exit. This stop was called ‘Neumarkt Köstendorf’ and we had planned that Marias friend would pick me up and take me home to where Maria lives. The reason Maria did not pick me up was because she was as work and could not get time off.

Long story short, I failed to press the exit button on the train and therefore missed the stop. Maria's friend, Bianca, had to drive another 30 minutes to the next stop which was Salzburg Hauptbahnhof.

When arriving in Salzburg Hauptbahnhof (Main train station) my first thoughts were amazement. This was a city that had mountains next to it, covered in snow. It was like something I would see in a movie.

I met Bianca and we began our drive to Maria’s home. This meant I was to meet Maria’s family alone. Without Maria. I was English speaking, they were German speaking, I was her “never seen before boyfriend” and they were Austrian…

At the time this did not really phase me. Yes I was nervous but I was so confident in my love for Maria and I knew one hundred percent that I was a good person. Therefore, If they didn’t like me, I had done everything I would ever do.

Bianca and I pulled up to the old beautiful farm house that Maria was brought up in and I stepped out on the dusty gravel and took a breath of the fresh farm cow poo air. The land was beautiful and I was so excited to get to know her family. A few knocks on the door and Monika, Maria’s mother answered. I remember her being so smiley and happy, it was incredible. We came inside and her mother offered me to wear some slippers, which I was quite confused about – why should I need slippers? That’s a luxury… Regardless, I put them on and continued towards the kitchen.

We went into the Kitchen where I saw 2 more people, a young lady who looked similar to Maria, and an old man. Of course, at this point I believed it was Maria’s sister and her dad… Makes sense right? Turns out, I was right about the Sister, but I was wrong about the old man. That was Maria’s Opa (or Grandpa).

I walked in and shook everyone’s hand. At this point the Austrian dialect began. I realized that I could not understand a word that anyone was saying and continued to take my seat, keep smiling and eat some tasty oven-cooked food that Maria’s mother had prepped for me.

After eating, Maria’s Sister, Mother and I went for a walk around their property with their dog Sissi. It was very enjoyable, through my slow speech and broken German we managed to have several conversations. I learned more about them and they learned more about this wild lad that appeared from New Zealand.

Arriving in Austria was special, but nothing can ever compare to the time that Maria walked into the house for the first time as I was waiting for her.

We were sitting around the kitchen table. We knew that Maria would be home any second and that she would soon walk through that big wooden door right opposite me.

As anticipated, Maria entered the room. I still remember she was wearing “hoop” earrings and a cheetah print top. It was incredible. Knowing that I had traveled on an 8 hour flight from Bangkok, followed by a 3 hour train ride and endured the agony of waiting for about 5 hours for her to return home from her working day.

My body was filled with happiness, smiles, joy and I can’t forget the butterflies. I can honestly say at this moment I was the most “star-struck” I’ve ever been. With every feeling that I felt on that day, the feeling that was one of the most important was that it felt truly right.

After the hours of travel, waiting and coming all the way to Austria I can honestly say I didn’t have a shed of doubt. I knew I loved this girl, I didn’t come for any other reason than to reunite with my best friend. And that she was.



Jonny Balchin from winging it podcast with his girlfriend
3 days after I arrived in Austria