In August 1992, we left West Lafayette, Indiana, where I was a Purdue faculty member, for a one-year sabbatical at the University and Biocenter Vienna. I was extremely excited about going to work with the esteemed Prof. Wolfgang Schneider on avian lipoprotein metabolism related to egg yolk cholesterol deposition. At the same time, my wife was several months pregnant. We were both excited about our year in Vienna but also anxious about having a child born abroad. We wondered what health care would be like in Vienna, what it would be like being first-time parents, and what it would be like to live in a country where we didn't speak the language. Well, long story short, the health care of the mother and child was outstanding, and members of the "Stork Club" of the American Women's Association were very helpful.
We loved being parents of a beautiful healthy baby girl, and we were able to take some intensive German courses at the Goethe Institute on the Ring early on so we at least had some "survival" language skills. The people in the Fulbright office (Dr. Fruhwirth, Claudia Janke, Gunter Fassl, etc.) were so helpful and friendly, and they told us that our daughter was the first American baby born in Austria during a Fulbright. We made sure to get both the Austrian and the Viennese birth certificates with all of the stamps as "souvenirs," as well as a certificate of birth abroad and a US passport from the US consulate in the Marriott on the Ring. Unlike the situation in America, Austrian citizenship is not bestowed upon anyone born in the country, so no Austrian passport was offered. We also had to get a visa for our daughter at the police station in the 8th Bezirk. That was "fun" (not in a good way, but that is a topic for another day).
Overall, the year in Vienna was magical! My research with Prof. Schneider was tremendously exciting, rewarding, and productive. We loved living in a vibrant and beautiful city and nod our heads in agreement when Vienna is named the world's most livable city each year. The Heuriger experience and hiking in the Wienerwald were extra special. But perhaps most important was the many Austrian friends that we made in the lab and beyond, who we have kept in touch with for (now) 27 years. We feel a very special tie to Austria and try to visit every few years when possible. Whenever I watch the annual New Year's Concert on American Public Television every January 1st, I get quite nostalgic. I am so very thankful for our Fulbright year and hope that future US Fulbrighters will likewise have positive life-changing experiences.