Meet Jakob Mitterhauser

Original MTC:

Name: Jakob Mitterhauser

Please share any updates since your last interview. It has been 6 years since my last interview. I am still living in Vienna, finished studying and am working part time as an urban climatologist for the year. My workout routine has changed from physical therapy to intense training 4-5 times a week as I am part of the Austrian Para Rowing Team. Taking care of my health is still the main goal in my life.

What do you want to discuss? Travelling

When did you start travelling? 2012, 3 months after my FA diagnosis

What do you enjoy most about travelling? It’s the excitement of seeing new things, getting to know new countries, cultures, and people. I love speaking different languages, eating local food, and seeing beautiful landscapes.

Does FA impact this? Please share any adaptations you’ve made to be able to participate in travelling. Yes, definitely. It was way easier to travel 10 years ago. Back in 2014 in India, for example, my balance was better and I did some hiking and walking in the dark which would be more difficult these days. Nowadays I plan better, take more time to relax, do less activities, do shorter trips and care more about accessibility.

Tell us more?? Back in 2011, when I got my FA diagnosis, I was told that I’d need a wheelchair within 5-10 years. That motivated me to see the world. I’ve been to 32 countries, mostly in Europe, North America and South America. Speaking German, English and Spanish helped me a lot.

I started slowly 2012 in Spain, saw Costa Rica in 2013 and India and Canada and the US in 2014. Then I was “infected with the travel fever”. I did major trips every year for 2-5 weeks. I fell in love with South America in 2015 while hiking up Machu Pichu. It made me realize that I am way stronger than I thought and can push limits.

Then I started to incorporate FA into my travels. I traveled to the FARA Symposium in Philadelphia in 2016 and 2018, combining it with trips to Canada and Mexico. I traveled to Ride Ataxia Europe in France (2017), Germany (2019) and the Netherlands (2021). Right before the pandemic I did 5 weeks in Brazil and Peru and one week in New York and Washington at the Rare Disease Week.

Recently I’ve focused more on traveling in Europe, visiting Greece, Ireland and France, for example. Seeing new places gives me a lot of motivation to stay strong. One of my favorite things is to visit my FAmily all over the world. I’ve been invited to so many houses and every FAer is welcome in my apartment in Vienna.

Interviewed by: FARA Ambassador Scarlett Olivia Drews