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I grew up in a village in France. When I was a child I asked my parents: “Why the fuck do we live in a such a lame place?” I hated it. I said: “It’s only ugly and why do we live here? There are so many nice cities around.” Of course they were very sad about what I said. As soon as I could I moved to a city and I didn’t think I would ever go to the countryside.

In 2017 I moved to Andorf in Upper Austria, before that I lived in Vienna for about a year. However, I grew up in a village in France.

For my boyfriend it is so important to live here in the countryside and I thought he must have so many friends here, but all his close friends moved to Vienna and we constantly went to Vienna for parties and when we were here in the countryside we were so lonely.

After some time we moved to a friends farmhouse, they were renting a flat at their farm to us. We thought we would create a community with them together. We all had this expectation but it just didn’t happen. We ended up in a huge fight and decided to move back to my boyfriend’s house where we moved to and are still living now.

Last year we came to a point where it didn’t make sense anymore to live here. We had no friends, I was pregnant, it was winter and we were both depressed. So we made a “strategy-plan” (we called it our “war-plan”) like that:

Objective #1: every week we meet ten new people and get ten new phone numbers.

Objective #2: in the end of the month we will be part of two new circles.

We had to tell each other what happened and if we managed or not, in order to motivate each other. Actually, I managed much better than my boyfriend.

Through having a baby and motherhood I met many new people. I thought I would be locked much more through motherhood but actually it doesn’t have to be like that. With other mothers we discovered that we have much more in common than being a mother and with some I became close friends. Now, I feel being part of different circles here.

However, we are not friends with anyone who stayed in the village. All our friends are people that left for the city and then came back Andorf. Isn’t it strange? I even don’t see them when I go outside. Only, when there is the “Volksfest” in Andorf I see them all outside. Where are they the whole year? People told me, I should join the “Alpenverein” in Andorf, then I would meet the locals. However, I do not want to force myself to a hobby that I am not interested in, it would be completely fake.

I was very unsure if I want to move to the countryside, to Andorf. For my boyfriend it was very important to live here. He has his family and just started his company here, he also has a house here. He had the feeling he had to give something back to this area. For me, I was at a point in my life where I was very unsure how my future should look like, I was living as a nomad at this time. In the beginning it was like as if it was not my decision but it became my decision because otherwise it is not nice to be dependent on someone else’s decision, so I had to decide after a few months.
I decided to stay here. In the beginning there was the idea to move to Passau which is the next city, but now I like it, I can just jump on the bike and get everywhere. It seems like no one cares how one looks like, I can wear socks with sandals or whatever. It’s a feeling of being super free here.

In the beginning we didn’t have a child, we were working in our own company during the week and on the weekend we would go to Vienna to party and see friends. During the week we live in a super beautiful place with a garden.

The very first week when I moved to Andorf there were some things that made it hard to arrive. I had the feeling that I don’t belong, I moved to my boyfriends place and it was full with his things, there wasn’t even space for my clothes in the wardrobe. I had the impression it is all his. It’s his country, his language, his house, his friends. Everything was about him. I felt very small, even that small that I was still not fitting. That was the reason that we moved to a friends place to the farm. There it changed and we could co-create our space together and I took my space.

What made it great to arrive in the countryside was that I felt welcome by my boyfriend’s family. They made me feel fancy. For them I was the women from the city, the women from France – and French people seem to have quite a reputation in this area. People have an image of France which is extremely beautiful but completely wrong. When I came here I felt very exotic but in a positive way. I never had experiences of harassment because of being a foreigner, however, I think it’s mainly because I come from a western-european country. I am not sure if it would be the same if I would come from Turkey or Syria or so, it must be much harder.

Of course, the language was an issue in the beginning. I had to learn the local dialect. Right now, I really enjoy not understanding everything. Well, I do understand everything I want to understand but if I do not concentrate – for example what people are talking about on the neighbor table – I do not understand them. That protects me from a lot of information which would maybe make me feel bad.

Another thing that helped me arriving here in Andorf is the monthly foreign women circle. We exchange there about challenges and it feels good to be not alone with the same issues. Although, for others it’s way harder than for me, I realized. I come from a very similar culture, however,

Finally, I met really good friends in the countryside and we start to create our own project. We are four women, four mothers and we aim to create a place, a garden where we can learn about creating a sustainable future, a place where we can hold workshops and conferences, a place for exchange and a space that makes us feel powerful. That is our long-term vision.