We would like to introduce our Austrian volunteer Teresa Brandstatter, who is volunteering with FFR for three months. Sarah Vienna interviewed Teresa about life in Austria and her volunteer experience.
You grew up close to where they filmed the opening scene of The Sound Of Music, live in Salzburg, however you never saw the movie as well as many Austrians have never even heard about this classic film. Why is this?
I grew up in a small village at the lake “Wolfgangsee”, which is around 50 Kilometres away from Salzburg. Actually I think a few scenes were filmed at the lake where I live. But “The Sound Of Music” isn’t that poplar in Austria as in the UK or in the United States and I don’t know the reason for that. Some people – especially people from Austria say that the movie shows not the true picture of Austria and for an Austrian it’s a little bit too much, I would say.
In fact we are not wearing Dirndl and Lederhosen every day.
What are the differences between Switzerland and Austria would you say?
Definitely the language. Our dialect is – I would say – quite similar and for me it is also very hard to understand people from Switzerland. But inside Austria it can also be very hard to understand everything, because of the different dialects we have. The further you go to the west of Austria the pronouncing becomes similar as in Switzerland. One big difference between Switzerland and Austria is also the life. Life is much cheaper in Austria than in Switzerland. But when you compare doctor’s wages in Austria and in Switzerland, the Switzerland doctor earn much more money.
What food is Austria known for?
It depends which area you go. The Austrian cuisine is very sustainable. But the “Wiener Schnitzel” is the most famous food. But nearly every city has its one specialty. For example the Linzer Schnitten for Linz, which is a cake. Tiroler Kasnock’n, which has the best cheese in it and is very heavy in your stomach, after you ate it. You could continue the list for hours now (Sachertorte, Sazburger Nockerl, …
My middle name is Vienna named after the beautiful city of music. Do you often travel to Vienna and if so what is your favorite thing to do there?
My family and I traveled a lot to Vienna when I was little. We had an apartment there and one of my sisters studied in Vienna. But nowadays unfortunately I don’t travel so often to Vianna. My favourite thing is the maze at the “Schloss Schönbrunn”. My parents always wanted to bring the culture closer to my sisters and me. So we went a lot to museums and historical sightseeing, but the only place I always wanted to go was to the maze in the garden of the beautiful castle Schönbrunn. These are one of the best memories of my childhood.)
How is it for you working with the babies and children in the hospital?
It’s very nice. The babies are adorable and the children are sometimes really funny. I needed a few weeks to feel comfortable here, but as longer I am here as more I like it. The work we are doing is very important for the children. The babies are laying alone in their crib with no toys the whole day. They only social contact they have is when the nurses feed them or change their diapers. And sometimes they play with their therapists. That’s all!
I really like children and I was shocked to hear about that we are the only social contact they have, excepted when the nurses had time for them, because sometimes the parents don’t visit their children in the hospital. A few of the babies are in the hospital since a few weeks or they are back again and it’s interesting to hear their stories and bring a smile on their faces, just with a toy or a cuddle.
Also sometimes it is really weird when parents visit their child at the hospital but their child has more attention for us then for their own parents! Since I am here this happened twice and made me really speechless!
The work at the hospital and the general work which FFR is doing is a work that should be get more attention. Some people say they won’t help because FFR is helping gypsy children but shouldn’t every child in the world have the right for a protected and loved childhood, especially when they have disabilities and shouldn’t we look at the background of each child?!
What is the hardest thing for you doing this sort of volunteer work?
The hardest thing is when the children are older, so they can understand that their parents aren’t here, but they don’t understand that they will come back to pick them up.
If I could wave a magic wand for you what would be your wish?
To give people the opportunity to open their eyes and understand that a political opinion as well as a religious view should not limit the right for a protected and beloved life.
Lastly, if I were to visit Salzburg in the near future would you want to join me on the “Sound of Music” tour after we watch the movie with everyone in Brasov?
Haha. Of course I would. It is always fun to see and hear how tourist guides represent our country. But I am sure that the tour and the places that I will show you about my home country would differ a lot. I would really appreciate showing you the nice places about Austria and especially the Wolfgangsee.