We sat down with one of Vienna’s most renowned bloggers and had a nice chat about the face behind ‘The Viennese Girl’, her love for Vienna and Wanderlust.
AIESEC: First of all, thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us.
The Viennese Girl: Thank you for inviting me!
A: I’ve personally been following your blog now and I’m really interested in the topics you write about, especially when it comes to the tips and details about Vienna and the stories about your travels.
TVG: That was actually a surprise for me, because I didn’t expect that people would like that so much and it’s such a rewarding feeling to see how much my followers value my stories.
A: Before we start talking about traveling and your various adventures in the world, let me ask you first: Who is ‘The Viennese Girl’ or who’s behind ‘The Viennese Girl’?
TVG: My name is Sillia and I come from Athens, Greece. I’m studying at the University of Vienna and I’ve been living here for almost 4 years now.
A: So, tell me where the name ‘The Viennese Girl’ comes from then?
TVG: The day I made the website I was thinking about different names. Of course, I thought about a lot of options but then I thought that making a new website is like bringing a new person to the world that’s why I decided to call it ‘The Viennese Girl’ and since I don’t have any children yet, so it was like a baby for me. It’s also a very catchy and easy name to remember which is always important!
A: So you don’t actually see yourself as ‘The Viennese Girl’?
TVG: No, I see it more as my child!
A: So describe to us how you see her. What’s ‘The Viennese Girl’ like?
TVG: She’s an international girl and she was born in Vienna, of course! She wants to travel a lot and discover new places everyday.
A: So actually you, Sillia, and ‘The Viennese Girl’ have a lot in common then?
TVG: Well of course, it is my child after all! And I want to see her grow and become successful.
A: As you mentioned before you’re originally from Greece. How did you actually end up in Vienna?
TVG: I was actually feeling a bit down in Greece for personal reasons and I wanted to escape from everything. I had a job, a home, a car, so I was settled down but I still wanted to leave everything behind me. I also wanted to improve my German language knowledge. In the beginning I planned to stay in Vienna for 3 months only, but then I decided to stay longer and didn’t take my flight back to Greece.
A: You’ve been living here for 4 years now and running a successful blog. It’s clear how much you love Vienna. Could you tell us 3 things you love the most about this city?
TVG: The first thing I have to mention is the transportation system, because it simply brings you everywhere, easy, quick & safe! It also works on weekends for those who want to go out after midnight. And compared to the system we had in Athens it is much more reliable.
The second thing I love here is the university. I like that it’s easy for someone from another European country to subscribe! And I appreciate that they give you this chance & then it’s up to you, whether you manage your studies or not.
The 3rd thing I love about Vienna is that it’s in the center of Europe, which means that you can of course travel a lot. You can go to Prague, Budapest, Bratislava, Switzerland, Venice or Munich. We’re in the middle of Europe and you can always escape for a weekend trip.
A: I’d like to ask you more about the blog itself now. You have two main points or topics there. I’d like to talk about ‘Wanderlust’ first. What does this word mean to you? Why is it the 1st headline you have?
TVG: Wanderlust is the love for traveling and discovering new places and cultures. I cannot imagine myself without traveling. I remember that every time I’m about to travel somewhere I become very happy. I also want to motivate other people to travel as much as they can. Similar to what you do with your internships, because it’s important to make it easy for young people to travel.
A: What made you fall in love with traveling?
TVG: It’s an escape from the routine. From the daily life, which is sometimes a little bit boring. All in all, it just makes you happier.
A: Do you think traveling changed you as a person?
TVG: Of course, it changes you. Because once you’re in a foreign country, you need to find a way to survive. You have to become more responsible, because sometimes you’re on your own.
A: So, do you think you would have gone on an AIESEC internship if you found out about it before?
TVG: I would certainly do it, but I don’t know where I would have gone. Do you offer anything in Paris?
A: Most people try to go somewhere far away from Vienna.
TVG: Then I’d probably go to Brazil and maybe volunteer as a blogger there.
A: Your second main topic in your blog is ‘Dear Vienna’. It’s a very catchy name, but what is it about exactly?
TVG: ‘Dear Vienna’ is more of a guide not only for tourists, but also for locals who want to see Vienna through my eyes. I got a lot of e-mails and encouragements telling me to keep discovering new places, so I kept exploring.
A: As you might know, we don’t only send people abroad but we also offer AIESEC internships here in Vienna, so we have a lot of international interns from all over the world. What piece of advice would you give the ones that just arrived in Vienna?
TVG: Well…Just check my blog! And of course just go out and explore the city!
A: We talked before about how much you love traveling. Can you maybe tell me about the trip that changed you the most?
TVG: I think the first trip that I’ve done changed me a lot. I was 18 and I went to the Netherlands because I had a pen pal from this beautiful country. She invited me to stay with her and I went with my mom, because my mom was a little afraid for me to go alone. But she went back to Greece as soon as she made sure they were nice people, she didn’t stay as long as I did. And I stayed with the family the entire time I was there.
A: What did you learn out of it?
TVG: What I learned is that I have to travel more. It will help me to grow as a personality and that staying in the same city or country doesn’t challenge you enough.
There is a nice quote that says: “The world is a book & those who don’t travel read only one page.”
A: Well, that sums it up! So, where is the ‘The Viennese Girl’ going next?
TVG: To Paris!
A: So we can expect new pictures on your blog soon then! You’ve been to a lot of places but what is the one place you haven’t been to before that you would like to visit soon?
TVG: I’d love to go to Bali. It just looks so exotic and appealing & I imagine it will be wonderful to go there.
A: Let me ask you now about AIESEC. Have you heard of us before we contacted you?
TVG: Yes, I had a flat mate who went on an internship with AIESEC. And I remember how she talked about it a lot and the people she met.
A: How do you think such an internship where you leave your comfort zone can change a person? Imagine a 20-year-old girl from Vienna doing a social internship in Perú. How do you think this experience would impact her?
TVG: It’s exactly what we talked about till now. She’s going to find herself in a very different situation. She has to get along with a different culture and maybe get over this culture shock.
For example, from the countries I visited Cairo was very different from Europe.
There was a lot of poverty and it helped me become more sensitive. And that it’s not only your country, your bubble but there are also other countries, other people that are not living so comfortable or luxurious as we are. Maybe then you start thinking about what you can do for the less fortunate and that’s very important.
There are two types of people: Some just travel, live their experience and go back.
And the others they throw themselves in the situation and become more aware of other cultures and also go back as different people.
A: We have a final question for you. If you would motivate people to travel, what would you tell them the main reason to travel is?
TVG: That first of all, you change your life, you change yourself and it changes the way you think! So to sum it up: to change, to grow, to learn and to become a better person.
A: Thank you so much again from our side for this lovely chat and we wish you an amazing trip to Paris.
TVG: Thank you so much for inviting me and enjoy your holidays!
All photos by Tony Gigov, Interview by Mohamed Kassem