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Österreich am Ball

European football fans are counting down towards the beginning of June, when Switzerland and Czech Republic kick off for the first match of the European Football Championships 2008. Sixteen countries will compete for the title. For Austria, it will be the first time they even join this stage of the competition. Along with co-host Switzerland, Austria is automatically qualified this time. Expectations for the overall tournament are high; expectations for the Austrian team seem to be modest to fatalistic.

Posted by Bruno

Ahoy from Budweis

With only 15 years of age, the Czech Republic and neighbouring Slovakia are the two youngest country in the European Union. Both came into existence after putting an end to their Czechoslovakian union, which had lasted for the 80 years following World War I. Capital of the Republic is Prague, home to 1.5 million people out of the 10 million of Czechs who populate the entire country.

Posted by Bruno

Working life

Austria can pride itself in having one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe. The current figure is as low as 5%, although that figure doesn`t mean that everybody is happy about what they are doing, or about how the Austrian system works. Here`s some quick insights on working life in Austria:

Posted by Bruno

Writing about youth subcultures is a risky project. Once they are noticed, the trend is usually already over. Austrian media keep writing about `Krocha` these days, a subculture that was born in Vienna a few months ago and quickly spread over all of Austria. What is there to know about these `Krocha` people?

Posted by Bruno

Austrian Elisabeth

Throughout the `Us Europeans` project, I have found it increasingly easy to just step up to people in the street and start asking them questions. Interviewing people is a perfect way to collect surprising opinions and to learn about how many stories hide behind a single face. Today, I am interviewing Elisabeth (22), a social sciences student from Graz who recently spent half a year in Tanzania and will soon start working as a social caretaker in Austria. Or possibly in India..

Posted by Bruno

`Da Heim statt Islam` (No Islam at home), `Wien darf nicht Istanbul werden` (Wien shall not become Istanbul) and `Wir sauben Graz` (We clean Graz) leave little to the imagination. These lines serve as official slogans of the Freedom Party FPÖ, which can count on almost 20% of the votes if elections were to be held today.

Posted by Bruno

Up in the mountains

There are very few places in Innsbruck that do NOT offer a magnificent view on the surrounding mountains. Situated on the banks of the river Inn ? hence the name of the city ? Innsbruck provides a perfect gateway into the Tyrolian mountains. Coming from a country that is almost as flat as a pancake, I am obviously very eager to find out what life surrounded by mountains looks like.

Posted by Bruno

I`m back in Austria after a quick one-day visit to Munich. Now in Salzburg, I am asking young Austrians to tell me about the way they like to spend their spare time. Key ingredients: beer, enjoying and challenging nature, preferably through individual sports. And football..

Posted by Bruno

Bavaria at a glance

One of the explanations for Tyrolians to feel like they are different from average Austrians is that the most convenient connections from Tyrol to lower Austria either run trough the north of Italy, or through the South of Germany. On my way from Innsbruck to Salzburg, I am making a small detour to include Munich in the list of cities visited only to jump back into Austria tomorrow.

Posted by Bruno

The upcoming commemorations of the end of WWII remind me of the many statues I have seen across Europe, all the military graveyards, former concentration camps or other types of scars from the past. They all mean to express one and the same message: We never want this to happen again. No more slavery, no more colonization, no more territorial disputes, no more Nazism, Fascism, Racism. The memorials represent a frozen state of `Evil`, as if it is something that belongs to the past and has now been forever extinguished.

Posted by Bruno