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Regular version of the site

Virtual Trip to Real Alps

A series of meetings for students and teachers as part of the lecture course on ‘European Civilizations’ is currently taking place at the HSE Nizhny Novgorod Austrian Library. On February 20th a lecture on ‘Austria in the European Context’ was given by Ursula Maurich, Expert for bilateral cooperation at the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture.

She praised the work of the HSE Nizhny Novgorod branch in building a system of intercultural education and said that in the today’s interconnected world the skills of intercultural communication are necessary to all students, regardless of their specialization.

Ursula Maurich, through the example of her family and her region, told the audience about the global processes which have been taking place in Austria over the last forty years. During this period Austria has changed from a mainly agricultural country to one of the most successful economies in the new Europe, and now, the unemployment level in Austria is one of the lowest in the EU. The Republic of Austria is a shining example of a country which has succeeded by developing its service sphere, particularly, tourism and winter sports. And yet, only thirty years ago, according to Ursula Maurich, skiing was not a popular sport in Austria.

While Austria is located in the center of a united and rapidly globalizing Europe, Austrians value their unique identity. According to the speaker, the traditional Austrian costume, which was considered to be the dress of villagers when she was a child, is now proudly worn even by young people in cities. The life of Alpine villages, including Ursula Maurich’s hometown, has also changed drastically. Previously, most of the inhabitants were involved in agriculture, but today more and more people do not want to work on the land, and instead prefer work which leaves them more free time for leisure.

For both Europe and Russia, the problem of attracting overseas workers is relevant. The speaker mentioned that Austria has traditionally, ever since the days of the Habsburg Empire, been home to many ethnic groups. This has promoted multicultural development in the country. On the other hand, Austria’s mountainous landscape divides the country into many separate regions where an immigrant can live all his life and still remain an outsider. So, Russia and Austria have some mutual problems related to the assimilation of foreign workers.

Ursula Maurich also emphasized that intercultural communication is aimed at mutual enrichment of the nations in the dialogue. This is why it is important to know your own culture well in order to be able to share it.

See also:

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