Meet Anesu

I met Anesu through a friend and was instantly drawn by her soft voice and quiet, yet confident nature. She has one of those smiles which starts slow, but is like watching the sun rise- you have to smile with her. I hope you will enjoy reading about her journey to Vienna and what she is doing here- just as I enjoyed hearing about it. Also, make sure to check out her poetry!

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Betsy

Anesu Dzvuke

I originally came to Vienna because my mom worked for the embassy here. She left around 8 years ago and I stayed here. I’m from the Zimbabwe- there’s actually a weird story about our house. My mom bought the property really cheap, but it was because it was close to a prison. So we lived in the city, but at the edge, close to a prison. It was interesting.

I lived in Botswana until I was about 6 years old because of my mom’s work. Then I lived in my country for 4 years and then I came to Austria. I stayed here because I didn’t want to travel anymore, but now I miss travelling actually. As a kid traveling isn’t fun because you always know when you make friends that you are going to have to say goodbye soon. I was ten when I came to Vienna. When you are younger it is easier to learn a new language and we were basically surrounded by it, so I learned German the easy way, as a child. I feel like my home is in Zimbabwe. I’ve lived here double the amount of time I’ve lived there, but there’s just a feeling like you belong when you go there.

Now I am studying medicine. It was always something I wanted to do, even as a child. Ever since I was nine, I used to stich my teddies up with they had “injuries”- when the seams burst. I just always wanted to be a doctor. I actually couldn’t really decide between medicine and arts because I- sometimes I feel like I am of two minds because I love everything to do with art, but I also like medicine. In the end I chose medicine, but I still do art as a hobby.

I think another deciding factor of not doing art in university is that my mom would always tell me that I would have a hard time finding a job. That’s actually really sad because I think- I can’t describe it- but it’s much more free, much more freeing to do art. It has no boundaries- science has a lot of boundaries. I think everyone understands art. If you see a painting- there is no language, but everyone understands it. It may mean different things to different people, but it still has a message.

I’m really interested in spoken word poetry. I love to preform poetry pieces with music in the background. I haven’t taken part in a poetry slam yet, but I do spoken word performances in Vienna sometimes. If there was a poetry slam in English, I would do it, but I’m too intimidated to do it in German. I haven’t found anything in English yet, so I think I need to create something with a friend. I think it would be fun.

I tend to write about darker topics, but I think it’s because I feel more inspired when I’m sad. Sometimes I write about things I see in the news that affect me or anger me or irritate me. For example, one poem I wrote is about skin bleaching- it’s really prevalent. For example, in the black community there’s a lot of bleaching. Sometimes I write about mental illness or depression. Because sometimes I think mental illness is often treated like a taboo topic and no one really wants to talk about it, but it’s the same as any other illness. I also write about typical heartbreak and relationships.

My dream is- actually I have two dreams. One is to go back to Berlin- I visited it once and I fell in love with the place. I was on a school trip with a friend. I remember we snuck out once and we went through the city, the teacher didn’t know. And I just loved the city. I love it. It has such a nice energy. I would really like to do my specialization there. I wouldn’t mind working in Austria, but as a student I would like to go to Berlin. When I am old I would like to have a house on the beach in Mozambique or something.

What I like about Vienna is it’s such an easy going place, everyone seems so relaxed here and the quality of life is very good. There’s not much I don’t like- I don’t like the humidity in summer. But that’s about all. There is always so much to do. Also culture wise, there is never a shortage of things to do. There’s the opera, museums, they always have events for their citizens as well. I was actually watching an opera yesterday. I love it. Another thing is the Viennese humor. It’s this very dry, sarcastic humor and if you don’t understand it, like me in the beginning, it’s easy to get offended. I often wanted to start crying. But it’s actually a very nice dry humor, once you figure it out.

For clubbing in Vienna I like run down places- like those really shady looking clubs. Like Electro Gönner. It was an old electronics store and now they’ve turned it into a club. It’s seedy looking, but it’s nice. Or Werk or Flex. I really like this industrial, run down vibe. I can’t stand the posh places like Passage, I hate Passage. The canal is nice and the MQ is also nice in summer. Just to chill on the benches there.

Dating in Vienna is difficult. I think it’s easier to date a black guy, because they approach you more. All you have to do is smile and they’re like, “Hey, can I have your number?” With Austrian guys it’s not like that. You have to be more active and I’m really shy so it’s hard. And a lot of times I get the question, “Do you date white guys or?”

The first time I ever did a poetry performance was during a beauty pageant. I didn’t think people would like it because the other contestants were doing dances and singing and I just came up with a poem. But actually a grown man started crying in the crowd during my performance. It was a poem about how we should be proud of being African and forget the negative stereotypes and be strong. He was African too. He just started crying and that really touched me so I started doing more performances.

In the beginning, because I was so shy, I would have moments where I would black out. I would be so scared on stage. I’ve messed up some poems, but it’s getting better. The more I practice, the more I’m ok with it. I try to memorize the poems. The thing with spoken word is it’s not just about the poem; it’s how you deliver it. So I’m still trying to learn how to deliver the poem. I try to memorize the poems and practice at home so it fits with the music. Because if I have a blackout and the music keeps playing, the climax of the song comes and I’ve missed it.

What I feel is important when I read something or when I write something, I think the reader is important. No one wants to read something that is you, you, you. I think they have to be able to relate to it somehow. So when I write something personal, like about heartbreak or something, I try to make it in a way that it’s not about my, but in way that someone else could identify with it too. So most of it is non-fiction mixed with fiction. Inspired by real life.

When I was in high school I had no friends. I had a group of three best friends, but now one is in Amsterdam and one is in London. We still have reunions every once in a while. After high school though, it was like I blossomed and I started meeting a whole ton of people. But I would say they are more like acquaintances. My group of friends is still the same. A group of four.

I’m having horrible flashback memories of high school now. I was just really awkward. I remember this time I was in the library; there was a partition and my classmates were talking, but they didn’t know I could hear them. They were saying like, “Anesu will never get a boyfriend, she is so weird”. It was so mean. But my mom always said that there is a silver lining to everything. I think going through that, I am not afraid to be me now. I’m still shy, but I know you can’t please everybody, so you just have to be yourself.

I’m really interested in people. My mom had- my mom again- she had this analogy. She says people are like books. For example, if you meet someone and they are twenty-one, then they are like at chapter twenty-one of their life. To find out what the other chapters are like, you have to ask them and get to know them and talk to them. You have to learn about those other chapters. And once you know someone, you can experience the new chapters with them as they come.

Meet Lorna

Lorna is rather fresh to Vienna, but she has already started to make her mark. I first met her at one of our monthly brunches. She has since become a regular face at WoV events and a real friend. She has also been working on her own project featuring her experience of Vienna and photography. Her dedication towards doing something that makes her happy is insiring and her lighthearted attitude is refreshing to be around. I hope you enjoy this little conversation with her!

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Betsy

Lorna

I have a really good friend here in Vienna who is a portrait photographer – Carola Moon of Rolaa Photography. In the past few years, I have visited her quite a few times and really liked it here. Also over the past few years I haven’t really been happy in my job – not that it was completely unsatisfying – it just maybe wasn’t the career direction I wanted to continue in.

I was working for an academic publisher and had a job as a marketing manager. It was a really varied job, I met a lot of interesting people, I got to do a lot of travelling, it was a really nice team, and a really good company to work for. Last year I was covering someone’s maternity leave and that was coming to an end, so I would either have to find a new job or go back to my previous job. I had been working at a higher level and therefore I didn’t really want to go back to my old job. I started looking around, looking at comparable jobs. I had a few interviews, but I found that my heart was never really in it. I just wasn’t excited about these jobs, and so I thought that that was a clear trigger that, no, this is not really what I wanted to do. When you are spending so much of your life working, why would you want to do a job that doesn’t make you happy? It ticked some boxes, sure, but it wasn’t enough.

Back in January I was having a chat with Carola via Skype, and she asked, “So what do you want 2015 to look like?” I thought for a moment and then answered, “You know, if I’m in this job in a year’s time, I’m just not going to be happy”. Something had to change.

During the course of the same conversation we were messing around with the idea of what it would be like to work together. I’d been interested in photography for a couple of years and had been photographing as an amateur. We were just joking around, but somehow it triggered a thought in my mind of, “What would it be like to move to Vienna and work with my friend?” So I talked about this idea with a few other friends and they said, “You know, you’ve actually been going on about photography for a long while”. It didn’t really surprise them at all, even though I felt like it was this huge, big, crazy idea.

I eventually plucked up the courage to broach the subject again with Carola. I wasn’t quite sure how she would react. Perhaps she would reject the idea and say, , “God Lorna, that was only a joke” and that would be the end of it there and then. There could have been multiple reactions, but what she actually said was, “Yep, why not!” It still felt like a really crazy idea, especially having just bought a flat 18 months ago, to then be thinking, “I’m just going to leave ”. But on the other hand I thought, if I don’t do it now, is it going to be one of those opportunities that passes me by and I later think, “Oh, I really wish I had done that when I had the chance”? Six months later, after I had organized everything, I came to Vienna.

It’s been just short of two months now, and I’m finding it quite easy. I think it it has been easier because Carola has been such a fantastic support. I also think it makes a difference to move somewhere in summer, because of the longer daylight hours and the weather is more ‘friendly’. Also, when I moved to Berlin back in 2008 – I don’t know if it was me just being naïve – but I don’t know that Facebook groups existed back then. It really surprised me that it’s not just an online platform, that these groups actually do stuff in real life.

Women of Vienna was the first group where I went to a live event. I didn’t really know what to expect, but it is a really amazing group. I am really touched by almost strangers’ generosity to help others. I am also impressed by how many nationalities are in this group – there are literally women from all over the world! You’ve already got something automatically in common with these ladies by all living in a foreign country, but it’s still very unique.

I have learned so much in these last few months. I kind of expected that it would be a steep learning curve, but at the same time, I didn’t really have a clue what I would be doing. I have learnt that photography is actually only about ten percent of the business. So yes, maybe it all started with Carola being an excellent photographer, but actually you really need to be a good sales person, a good marketing person, a good networker, you know, you need all these other business skills that I hadn’t really considered. It’s more multi-faceted than just being good at one thing. So that’s been quite eye-opening.

For me, when I’m in a group situation – especially the first time – I’m not a person who’s going to be first to speak or first to ask a question. I might be a little tentative or observe the conversation that’s going around me and after a while, when I’ve relaxed or am comfortable in the situation, then I might open up a bit. For me, meeting somebody on a one-to-one basis is much easier. Also, I think, if you’re going to make a more lasting friendship, you have a better chance if you meet on a one-to-one basis rather than in a group, as it usually takes three, four, five times before you think, ”Yeah, I really like this person”.

Since I only work with one person, clearly meeting people was not going to happen at work. So I wondered if there was a way to make some new friends whilst combining it with taking photographs, and also get to explore a bit of Vienna. I thought that would be fun. So that was when I launched my little project with the Women of Vienna. I created a post on the Facebook page offering a lifestyle photoshoot at a location of choice to all in the group. Initially I thought maybe one or two people would want to do it, but oh my goodness, there was an overwhelming response! I was really surprised and delighted.

I’m very much an experimental photographer. I’ve learned by doing. I think that’s why I have pretty much stuck with nature and architecture photography up until now because it is stable. You can choose something and go at it from different angles, change settings, and try different things. Whereas with people it’s never the same, and you have to say, “Can you move here, and now move here, and do this”. It’s very different. I’ve been learning a lot about different poses and tricks you can do. Often these poses can feel very strange to the person being photographed, and they might ask themselves, ”What in the world am I doing?” But on seeing the results, they then realize why those poses are so good!

I think I am personally quite awkward in front of the camera. I don’t come from a family were my mum was always taking pictures of us, or where every family event was photographed. So it still seems funny to be taking pictures of people in a really purposeful way. It’s a bit odd, isn’t it?

That’s what’s been really interesting about working with Carola. Almost every person who has come into her studio has been really awkward at first, they think they look really geeky and strange, or don’t like themselves in photos. I think the skill to being a good photographer is getting people to relax, and feel so much “in the zone” of following the photographer’s direction that they forget how awkward they feel about it. They’re just doing what they’re asked to do and when they see the results, their reaction is often, “Wow! I actually look really amazing and there was no need for me to be worried!”

Some people don’t even like their smile, but often they just haven’t seen it in a way that makes them feel good. It just takes seeing yourself in a slightly different way. The transformation is what’s so amazing to me. They’re not excited and often nervous at first, but when they leave they feel amazing, they feel pampered, and they feel really good about themselves. It’s great to witness that. I think that’s what’s so awesome about photography – to see people’s reactions. In so many jobs you don’t get the reaction you want to hear, you don’t get the credit, you don’t know that your work really means something to someone. And seeing what Carola does, her work really means something to those people. And then they have their fantastic portraits that they can keep forever to remind them of how beautiful they are. I think that is a really special gift.

What do I love about Vienna? Coming from the photography side – there is so much amazing stuff you can photograph in Vienna. I love wandering around all these streets, they’re just beautiful. And there’s so much to do in this city. Whatever your hobbies, you can find something that will suit you.

I also have a very musical background. I actually studied music at university, and that’s another real attraction to being here. There is so much music and so much professional music and yet also very accessible. Like the standing seats at the opera – they’re only three euros! That’s incredible! Lots of people have said to me that the Austrians can be quite unfriendly. I haven’t met that many Austrians yet, but I’ve met loads of friendly people here. Even just walking down the street, people are friendly. People say good morning to you. I get taken aback by that. I think it’s been a very friendly and welcoming place. As much as it is a big city, it doesn’t have that big city vibe. It’s very relaxed.

Meet Bosiljka

I first met Bosiljka a few months back at one of our very first Women of Vienna events and I knew I wanted to include her in my interviews. She has such a quiet strength about her, she does not need to loudly present who she is or her accomplishments. It was lovely to hear more of her story and learn about her love for yoga and sharing it with others. I hope you will be able to draw on her strength and enjoy this story of how she came to Vienna!

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Betsy

Bosiljka Janjusevic

I come from both Croatia and Serbia because I have this connection to both places. For many years, since my parents moved from a small town in Croatia to Belgrade before the war started in 1991, for maybe 14-15 years, I still didn’t have a feeling of connection with the place I had been living in. It created this feeling in me that I don’t have strong connections to a place. I felt that I should leave again. I can easily be wherever I want or where ever is needed. I just have to be at a place for one day and I feel at home.

I came to Vienna for my doctoral studies, but it was, in fact, a good excuse to finally decide to take this journey. I was working a lot in Belgrade on great ideas regarding yoga in the Yoga Federation of Serbia and it was not easy for me to leave that, in a way. I had something, work, that was really important for me. But I finally decided that my PhD thesis was also important and sometimes if you want to support organizations, you also have to develop yourself.

I was looking for a mentor for my PhD in many countries, all over in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, but I finally found one here. So that was a reason for moving to Vienna. Vienna is close enough that I could travel back to visit my family and give lectures. For the first year I would go back every weekend. But I thought a lot about a message that a friend from the University in Bangalore told me, “You have to sit at one place in order to have your job done”. You have to keep your attention in one place as long as it takes to accomplish something. We are at the place where our attention is and if we move it a lot, the job will not be done. It happens in everyday situations, while studying, having a relationship, communicating with family, friends and colleagues, our attention very often is not there, we are just physically present. Yoga teaches us to be present and to feel ourselves at the place and moment where we really are, so we develop harmony with ourselves and with our surroundings.

I am doing a doctoral studying in psychology. My first idea was to make a connection between psychotherapy and yoga. My mentor accepted my general idea, but then she had some nice suggestions and finally we came to how yoga is connected to self-regulation in personality psychology. I cannot say that there is an influence. In science, you cannot say that something influences something, but you can say that there is some connection and which parts of something have a connection to other things. But when you practice yoga for many years you can feel that there is some influence. And you can see that in people who practice, especially people who have practiced for many years.

I remember we had a group of people who had jobs in human resources. There was a test that took four hours and then at the end, the last half hour was a test of how fast their reaction is in conditions where they are really tired. It appeared that the people who practiced yoga had a result that was something around two minutes and a half. The person explaining the results said that it was really amazing, that it was a really good result. So we were asking, “What is a good result, the usual result?” My thought was that it could be four to five minutes or something. Fifty percent faster would be really great. But then she said the average result was ten to twelve minutes. So it was five times better.

Yoga practice is often just seen as some physical activity which you do just for fun or some kind of recreation. It can be done like that, it’s true. But if we practice the techniques as it offers, with such an approach, it means that it should be done with your present attention. You have to be here and now when you do it. Then the change happens. There was research done at the University of Bangalore that shows that in aging people, people who practiced yoga, the aging process was slower. We are not completely aware how it changes us genetically, but it does. And since I am a psychologist, I realized it would be good to have research on this topic. People often say that it is enough that we have experience and we can then prove that the change happens, but if you want to show that to the scientific community you have to have some research and proof.

I can’t really decide if my first love is psychotherapy or yoga. Somehow it happened at the same time, though I was not completely aware of it. When I was in high school, I decided I was going to study psychology. At first, I was thinking that the science was my field. But it changed a lot over the years. Science then psychotherapy, science then psychotherapy. During those years I liked to go to the library, I spent many years in the library. One day I found one big book about yoga which contained all the details that were possible to find at that time in Belgrade. I borrowed the book and I extended the time you could keep it for two years. Eventually they stopped asking me about the book. So I started to practice yoga by myself. Then I went to university to study psychology and I still did some yoga by myself. Some postures and mediation. Finally I found a teacher who really taught me what I wanted to know and in the way I wanted to learn it. So my idea was to make a connection between the things I love and that is what I would like to continue doing in the future.

There are some psychotherapy schools of thought Wilhelm Reich- he uses a lot from yoga practice. He and Alexander Lowen and some others. There are always some resources in ourselves we don’t use, but as soon as we are able to become calm and peaceful and quiet, these resources come to the surface. That’s why yoga can be useful to anybody. Very often people say, “ I’m not flexible enough”. But yoga doesn’t require anything of you other than you and your will to do it. All other skills can be developed with practice. And stretching is, in fact, not the most important thing. Some of these people they say, “When I am able to put my legs over my head like this then I will stop practicing, but it will take me an age.” But you don’t have to do that at all. That’s not really the goal. People can also feel that maybe they’re not good at something and they don’t want to show that, they’re shy. The only goal is to give our maximum at the moment, at our yoga mat and in our life, and to achieve the level where we will be able to use the maximum of our inner potentials in our life.

We did yoga a lot in parks, it was advertised everywhere, people could practice many places. People who came to practice were teachers, people from businesses, housewives, doctors, architects, really different professions. They were coming to yoga to relax, to improve concentration, to improve their physical health. When I started to do it, it was open to everyone. You just had to have interest and be dedicated.

Somehow I knew that I would probably stay. I have been in Vienna already for one year and a half and I’m thinking about staying. It is a pleasant place to live. I like it. My new impression I have about Vienna is that it is really big- in the sense that it is a really big and important place in the world. It is very self-confident and self-content. That’s the impression I get of Vienna, it doesn’t need anything from the outside. However, it still gives a lot of opportunities for new initiatives. That’s wonderful to me. Also everything is in order. I like that about Vienna.