People + Places
In conversation with Brittany Boyle, a Vienna-based teacher and brand ambassador for Bon+Berg. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with her about her life as an American Expat living in Vienna and her practical approach to sustainability. Keep reading to learn more about her inspirations and exciting life in Austria.
June 15, 2023
Table of Contents
Brittany is an incredibly inspiring American Expat living her dream in the beautiful city of Vienna, Austria. From her deep-rooted connection to the German language and family history to her passion for teaching and love for Austrian culture, Brittany's journey is nothing short of enchanting.
As a fellow Expat living in Austria, her story truly resonated with me. So upon meeting Brittany, I was keen to learn more about her life in Vienna. Luckily, Brittany was more than happy to sit down and chat with me.
From Michigan to Vienna: A journey of love for language and Austria
Brittany hails from a small town in Michigan, but now calls Vienna her home.
The decision to move across the globe wasn't a random one. In 2017, Brittany's love for the German language and her desire to work in a German-speaking country, led her to Vienna to work as an English teaching assistant through the Fulbright Austria programme.
"I originally came to Vienna in 2017 to work as an English teaching assistant. I had studied German at university and I really wanted to move to a German speaking country to find a job opportunity where I could practise my German, but also still work in English."
After two incredible years, the programme ended, and Brittany returned to the US. But her heart remained in Austria, and she knew she had to find a way back.
"I really missed Austria so I stayed in contact with one of the schools where I was a teaching assistant... They contacted me last year to say they had about 10 hours worth of English lessons that needed to be covered. And that was that."
Discovering her heritage and fulfilling a dream
Brittany's connection to Austria and the German language runs deep. Her maternal family are native German speakers which is what initially sparked her interest in the language during her childhood.
She fondly recalls her goal of having a conversation in German with her great-grandmother, her Oma, before she would pass away some years later.
Brittany's family comes from a German-speaking minority in Romania called the Transylvanian Saxons, who spent time as refugees in Austria after World War II.
Her relatives moved to the United States in 1955, where they built a vibrant immigrant community in the metro Detroit area.
Brittany recounts how her great-grandmother loved Austria and never wanted to leave. Fulfilling her great-grandmother's dream of living in Austria has now become Brittany's own dream.
Finding community and embracing Vienna’s cultural riches
From our conversation, it was clear that Brittany's love for Austria goes beyond her personal connections.
She adores the community she has found in Vienna, especially her colleagues at the gymnasium (high school) where she teaches.
“The teachers, they're just really fantastic. I have so many wonderful colleagues who are great teachers, but they're also just really great people. And I have a lot of fun with them. And so that was kind of a basis for feeling like I belong here.”
“The camaraderie and support I experience make me feel like I truly belong”, she enthuses.
Beyond the school, Brittany explains how she is captivated by Austria's rich cultural offerings, from its breathtaking castles and art galleries to its charming coffeehouse culture.
One of the biggest benefits of living in Vienna is the combination of vibrant city life with easy access to serene natural landscapes. On the weekends, she can easily access forests, mountains, and lakes, all within an hour or so of the city.
Reading, writing, and running marathons
Reading is my primary hobby, Brittany sheepishly tells me. She finds solace in immersing herself in other people's perspectives and stories, broadening her understanding of the world.
"I really enjoy reading, both fiction and nonfiction. I love hearing about other people's perspectives, reading other people's stories, kind of understanding, you know, the options of how to be in the world, what options are out there. It's a very calming activity."
I was impressed to hear that with her full schedule, Brittany is also an avid runner and has completed five marathons.
“Running is another activity that brings me joy”, she explains. She highlights the calming effect that both reading and running have on her well-being. They help her stay grounded and maintain a sense of tranquillity.
On the other hand, she also emphasises the importance of engaging in social experiences and connecting with others.
Meeting friends for coffee, hiking, going on day trips, and exploring new places are equally important to her.
Writing your truth and finding solace in books
During our chat, we dipped into another important facet of her life — writing. For Brittany, writing has become a means of capturing memories, sharing experiences, and preserving the essence of each moment.
Being earnest is an integral part of her personality, often leading her to express herself directly and genuinely.
So, she uses writing to invite others into her world and encourages them to meet her at that level of earnestness.
“These interactions transcend the constraints of time zones and digital platforms”, she explains, “fostering sincere connections and thoughtful conversations that may otherwise be challenging to achieve."
“The very quick, low energy just, you know, check in with each other [on social media] lets you know that you still have a connection there. I love that kind of stuff. But those [long form] pieces invite people to kind of meet me at that level of earnestness. And I really value those interactions. So I enjoy writing and the earnest connections that I can get through it.”
With such a busy schedule, how do you find the time?, I ask.
By having a designated space to capture these thoughts, she ensures they aren't lost in the shuffle of daily life.
"If I’m standing somewhere in public and I get hit with a thought, I just pull up my phone, and I just write down that phrase."
Later, during a dedicated writing hour each week, Brittany revisits her digital notes and expands upon them, shaping them into essays, blog posts, or paragraphs.
“My advice is to just have a designated spot in your phone where you can just dump spontaneous ideas or thoughts that come to you. Then set aside time later to really pull it out into, you know, an essay or a blog or a paragraph or the long form of what you really want to say.”
Living more sustainably one step at a time
The last topic we touch upon is sustainability.
Brittany’s approach to living a more sustainable lifestyle focuses on planning and preparation, particularly when it comes to food, where she has taken deliberate steps to reduce her environmental footprint.
For example, she bakes bread and prepares meals in advance, making sure she brings them in reusable containers instead of relying on single-use packaging.
Brittany tells me she now makes the conscious decision to avoid purchasing coffee in disposable to-go cups, opting for home brew that she can take with her in a reusable cup instead.
In terms of fashion, she has a highly practical and strategic approach to wardrobe management, which focuses on identifying staple pieces and thrifting items that complement her existing outfits.
Brittany also places importance on investing in high-quality, versatile pieces like shoes and jackets, while opting for thrifted alternatives for other items.
She stresses the importance of letting go of perfection and instead focusing on making gradual changes that align with one's values.
"Honestly, I love the quote ‘Perfection is the enemy of good’. Get rid of this idea that you need to be 100% perfect in every area of your life and that you must be perfectly sustainable. I think letting go of that idea is really important."
She encourages others to identify small steps they can take immediately, and allow these practices to become second nature over time.
When it comes to expanding your wardrobe, Brittany suggests exploring secondhand options and being patient, aiming to make thoughtful purchases that align with personal style and will last a long time.
Brittany’s personal style also lends itself to sustainability. She is quite practical, she tells me.
“I am minimalist, practical. Occasionally I'll throw in a really fun pattern.”
“For me, if I've got something that's a statement piece, it's the only thing that's eye-catching about my outfit. I like to give it the spotlight!”
Finally, I ask Brittany what she loves most about the brand and what her favourite Bon+Berg piece is.
“What I really love about Bon+Berg is the material. I feel like it's just the thing that jumps out the most, just the softness and the fact that I never worry about any irritation on my skin.”
“The Selene hipster is by far my favourite. It is my go-to underwear choice because it’s so comfortable.”