Graz Interview #1 – Shawna

Interviews with locals and expats offering their own perspectives & recommendations for living in the lovely city of Graz.

I’m very pleased to introduce my dear friend Shawna Farrow. She hails from Canada, and moved to Graz for love. Shawna is truly a ray of sunshine (I wrote this before she sent the above photo πŸ™‚ ) and she gives the best hugs! She teaches yoga and meditation in her cozy personal yoga space, Yoga Life, and in the Stadtpark and Volksgarten. (I particularly enjoy her restorative yoga classes which are AMAZING). She is a wise soul and loves exploring her adopted city of Graz. So I’m thrilled she agreed to be my first interview – welcome Shawna!

What do you enjoy most about living in Graz?

Well the most important thing is that I moved here for my husband, so I would have to say that is what I enjoy most about being here… I get to be with Dave! I truly love the way of life here, there is a relaxed and slower vibe than I am used to and I love it. I love that people take their time when going out for a coffee or a meal. I don’t feel as rushed or hectic as I did when living in Toronto. I love that even thought it’s not a huge city there are so many things happening all the time; concerts, workshops, festivals, flea markets, food markets etc. I also love that I can ride my bike or walk to get everywhere in the city, I now have my favourite routes around town. I adore that I am able to have my own “small” business because the cost of living here is not as high so I feel I have more freedom to do what I love and am passionate about.

What was your biggest challenge or culture shock after moving here?

It has to be the people. I am used to overly friendly people who say hello and smile at you on the street, when buying something at a shop you would always make small talk about how you’re doing or the day. There is an openness to Canadians that Austrians do not have and it took me a while to get used to the difference. I notice that people here take some time, they are a bit more reserved towards people (places, cultures and things) they do not know.

How does Graz differ to your hometown/country?

My hometown is Toronto, Canada which is a big city with almost 3 million people. Living in such a big city I found that it was hard to find a sense of community, there are just so many people running around and mostly rushing. Here in Graz because of the smaller size I am able to go out into the city and see people I know and feel a togetherness I never have in Toronto. Graz also has a more relaxed energy, people don’t rush as much as they do where I am from. People tend to enjoy their time off and take advantage of it.

There is a bigger culture of being outdoors, being in parks, hanging around main squares, having festivals in the spring/summer and the Christmas markets in the winter. It’s as if the city itself comes alive. In Canada there is no drinking (alcohol) outside and so most of our special events happen indoors where they can get licences to sell alcohol.

What are your favourite places to eat / hang out / relax?

There are quite a few as I have been living in Graz for over 3 years. For the winter I need to recommend going to ALL of the Christmas Markets around Graz because each of them are cute and romantic in their own way. For indoor food/drinks here are my favourite places:

*Itchi go ichi e – it’s a ramen bar that is super close to Jakominiplatz. They make authentic Japanese ramen and it is AMAZING! For the vegan/vegetarian people out there they offer ALL of their ramen with vegan/veg options!

*Pizzaiolo – italian at Dietrichsteinplatz. So delicious! They do authentic napoli style pizza πŸ™‚ They are busy for dinner times so maybe make a reservation.

*MEKONG – a vietnamese restaurant, really great food. They also have vegetarian options!

* Blendend – they have a nice brunch but I am not the biggest fan of their food. They do have a really cute atmosphere and its really nice to sit in the “sun room” for drinks in the winter.

*for beer the bar called HOPS – they are a craft beer pub with loads of international people!

In the summer I love hanging out in Stadtpark and of course having a drink or two at Parkhouse (cute little hobbit-like bar in the park).

Lendplatz also has bars & cafes open in the summer to sit outside and have drinks. Every wednesday they have live music you can enjoy. Every Friday at kaiser-joseph platz there is also live music, drinks etc! For some outdoor places with great patios check out:

*Die amsel – incredible food/atmosphere. Their menu changes weekly and they only offer food that is in season. They have a cute inside but their outdoor area is the most romantic place in graz! Make sure to get a reservation because they get booked out quickly!

* Propeller has one of the biggest outdoor seating areas, they are part of the bausatz so its cheap food for students.

*Eschenlaube – have such a sweet outdoor area and their food it also really good!

Any other tips or suggestions you would like to share?

Hmmm, this is tricky as we are all experiencing things differently but I would say be open. I find when I expected things to be the same as they are in Canada I found myself frustrated and disappointed. It’s important to recognize that we will not be living our lives the same way as we did in our hometowns. Go out and explore as much as you can, get yourself out there! We forget that most of our experience (especially) with work came from networking. Most of the jobs I heard about in Toronto were from friends or acquaintances and it’s the same here, the more people you get to know the more opportunities you have.

The last thing is to remember why you moved here and make that the priority. I am here for my relationship and so that is my number one focus, all the rest comes second. πŸ™‚

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