It’s not that I find bank people incompetent or slow or somehow lesser than I, it’s simply that my English-major mind doesn’t comprehend money matters. So as one might imagine, the biggest problems I ran into figuring out how to get to Graz and stay there were in the “figuring out banking” categories.

Specifically when it came to sending a deposit to my Austrian apartment. My task seemed simple:

1. Take the receiving account information I was provided with.
2. Drive to my bank.
3. Point at paper, ask for international wire transaction.

I honestly thought this might take, what, 15 minutes tops? I mean, I even left my dog in the car when I went in.

No, no, no. Friends, it didn’t take 15 minutes. It took upwards of an hour the first trip to the bank, 40 minutes the second trip to the bank, and then a grand-daddy of an hour 15 the third trip.

It didn’t come down to incompetence on anyone’s part, it was simply that international wires are tricky processes. I should have expected this. And I’m glad, in some pretty deep hindsight, that something as “simple” as wiring quite a few pretty pennies from my account in the States to an account far away from my current location takes more than 15 minutes. It should.

What happened was the following:

Josie: “Uhm, hi. Yeah. Hi. Uh, I’ve got to, wire some money…to this account in Austria.” *nonchalantly slides the banker a piece of paper with handwritten account details scrawled in a spotty ink pen across the plastic wooden desk, while simultaneously glancing around to make sure thieves haven’t overheard.*

Banking Man: *rolls eyes* “Okay! Yeah, for sure we can do that.” *click clack* “Identification, please?”

Josie: “Oh, yeah, Uhm, yeah. Here. That’s me. In the picture there.” *hands driver’s license to banking man and smiles to match the tiny frizzy haired picture. Points unnecessarily to the tiny picture.*

Banking Man: “Yes, very good, that’s you.” *checks watch*.

…Banking Man spends a lengthy amount of time with this, while Josie stares intently at his face trying to interpret every visual queue for signs of success. There are very little.

He tells me everything worked, that I will be charged a $45 “transaction fee” on top of the money leaving my account for the wire, but that everything should be taken care of. Great. Grand. Stellar. I would pay $45 to never
have to go back to a bank.

The additional wiring fee didn’t bother me, what bothered me was the “failed wire transaction” fee that I found in my account the next day, along with a second $45 “incoming transaction fee” and the sinking feeling that I would have to make an additional trip to the bank.

My second trip involved a lot of time listening to the phrase “well, it should have worked”. Ultimately I was told to come back again, because “I really don’t know why it didn’t work”.

The third time I got the chance to speak with a Banker Lady who very thoroughly checked the reasons why the wire failed the first time, and spent a lot of time calling the “higher-ups” to ask questions. She figured out that the money has to be converted to Euros before wiring it over to the other bank, because the international account in Austria can’t recognize or receive a wire that’s in dollars. Once she figured this out, she quadruple checked with
everyone and their mother to make use that it would work this time.

Then, a whopping one month later, I received an email from the account in Austria saying “Dear Student: We have not received your WIST payments. Please wire the money as soon as possible. Love, Austria”.

*internal organs rupture simultaneously* 

I frantically, with obvious and extreme panic, emailed every person I knew in Austria to ask why the heck-fire it didn’t work. Two days later I received:

“sorry we r mistaken. Ur good. Love, Austria.”

Consequently I now fully believe that I can conquer anything. If the bank is something that stresses you out, too, dear friend, just remember: the only thing standing between you and the sunrise waking up the eastern Alps is the cold faux-wood door of your banking establishment. After you rough that, you’re home free. That and maybe a purchasing a plane ticket. And maybe a job that would pay for the plane ticket. And some social skills.

Peace and Blessings,


3 Comments on “So You Have To Go To the Bank; My Biggest Struggle With Getting to Austria

  1. Haha, omg, I can totally feel you. When I was an exchange student in Manhattan, there were many times when I tried to withdraw many with my visa plus card from my German account that it just wouldn’t work. It was so frustrating. In the end I came up with an explanation along the lines of “I have to withdraw money at a time that banks in Germany have their regular opening hours”, and most of the time that worked, although I’m not entirely convinced that that was the actual problem. Ever since banking business across the oceans has remained a mystery to me, but hey, isn’t it nice that something as materialistic as banking has its own mysteries ^_~


    • Haha exactly! And it seems as if no one can explain the actual problem of why it isn’t working in the first place. So it’s this huge game of guess and check, which is lovely.


  2. Pingback: Being Back: Uncut – Kissing the Earth

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