Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts

I am a 2nd year Bachelor of Arts students who went on exchange to the University of Vienna in Semester 1 of 2014. It was in an incredible experience that I will always remember fondly. Being able to speak German moderately well meant I had many options when it came to choosing a host university. I had visited Germany previously several times but never Austria, so I thought to try something new and study in Vienna.

The academic system in Vienna is somewhat different to UQ. Firstly, when signing up for some subjects, a sort of bidding system was used, where students were allocated points to bid on subjects. These points also carried over from past semesters. Overall, I found the system to favour those who studied for longer and believe that the system at UQ is in fact better. Not all subjects have classes for the whole semester. A number consist of only four or five weekly tutorials before an exam. Many others only have one piece of assessment; a final exam counting for 100% of the subject. This system seemed strange to me and to other European exchange students, whose home universities had systems mostly similar to that of UQ. Also, no lectures were recorded unlike in many other European universities.

Of course, not all of the exchange was about study. The ERASMUS Student Network works tirelessly to look after exchange students by organising social events. Through these events I met other students from all over the world and made long-standing friendships. With these new friends, we saw many of the things that made Vienna a cultural hub of Europe, including the Opera (where we saw the Swan Lake ballet), museums such as the Defence Museum which holds the car in which Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914, and countless art galleries. We also made travel plans and not only saw the city of Vienna but also places like Bratislava, Budapest and Innsbruck. Budapest in particular was a beautiful city and the Hungarian locals who we had befriended in Vienna were only too happy to show off their home city.

During my stay, I lived at a student accommodation in the 11th district, approximately 30 minutes away from the university. Luckily, the public transport in Vienna, as in much of Europe, is second to none. The U-Bahn subway system alone managed to take me anywhere I had to go, with buses and trams providing additional convenience. A single semester card costing €160 meant unhindered use of all public transport systems within Vienna. The card is a must- buy and is well worth the cost. In general, cost living is much lower than in Australia, and this is true for much of Europe. I don't like to cook and also lacked cooking utensils at my accommodation, so being aware of this meant that I could buy food out, either at the university cafeteria or at any of the cafés that Vienna is so famous for. University prices were reasonable, with €6 buying a large schnitzel with chips and salad.

The exchange experience was amazing and one that I will not forget. The city and the people I was with made the experience what it was. If you are unsure about whether or not to go on exchange, I would highly recommend it.

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