Bachelor of Arts/Laws, 4th year
Bachelor of Arts/Laws, 4th year

Academic Experiences 

I studied a mix of history and law courses in Vienna. I really enjoyed the history courses, especially the ones on the Middle Ages, as they were really well taught, and I felt that they were more in-depth than what you’d be likely to get in Australia. If you can, take a history course taught by Phillip Buc!

I can’t speak with much authority about the quality of the law courses since I only did 3 of them (the credit equivalent of 1 law course at UQ), but I didn’t feel that the teaching was as good as it is at UQ. There were several instances where lecturers turned up very late, or where they just sent someone else to conduct the class. Again though, I only did 3 law courses, so there were probably other courses that were taught much better than that.

In terms of the workload, a full study load at Uni Wien is 30 ECTS. Most law courses are only worth 2 or 3 ECTS, which meant that the people who studied straight law were often doing as many as 11 courses. So I think that if you were to study straight law at Uni Wien, the workload might be a bit higher than at UQ. A good way to deal with so many courses is to pick a few intensive courses that are taught over a few days.

I found that the weighting of courses for history was generally better than for law. They were usually worth 4 ECTS or more. I also did one course worth 10 ECTS. Some people had warned me that it required a lot of work, but it wasn’t too bad at all. I thought it was definitely worth it to meet a third of my credit requirements.

The most difficult thing about studying at Uni Wien was probably the course registration system! It sometimes takes weeks before you find out if you’ve been accepted into a course. For more competitive courses, you also have to allocate ‘points’ as part of a bidding system to see if you can get in. (I only had to do this for one of my courses though.) When it comes to course registration I think the best you can do is to enrol in more courses than you actually need. You can always deregister later in the semester and it will save you a lot of hassle in the event that you can’t get in to all of your desired courses. (Similarly, you will find that attendance drops in many courses after a couple of weeks as other students find out they got into their preferred courses.)

Overall I think the best thing about studying in Vienna was experiencing a new style of teaching and learning new courses – after 3.5 years at UQ it was a great way to change things up.

Personal Experiences

I think the main thing I gained from exchange was a greater sense of independence and confidence. I’d never been overseas for an extended period before, had never travelled solo, and had never lived out of home. So going on exchange introduced me to a whole new set of experiences and challenges, and I found that most of these things were not as difficult or impossible as I had thought.

Accommodation

I lived in a WIHAST dorm in Brigittenau during the semester. It was a very good price (€287 a month) and it was clean, and there were plenty of facilities and and everything, but most of the people staying there were not very sociable at all. I knew other exchange students who stayed in shared apartments or flats, and although it cost them more, it sounded like it was worth the extra money.

Budget 

In terms of expenses, Vienna definitely has a lower cost of living than Brisbane, even when you take the exchange rate into account.

It’s difficult to give a budget estimate, because it depends largely on how much you are willing to pay for accommodation, and how much traveling you do while you’re over there.

I did 4 weeks of traveling before semester, and did quite a few weekend trips etc, so I spent quite a bit on traveling, but saved money on accommodation. Ultimately though, I think it’s good to budget more than you think you will need so that you can just enjoy yourself and do what you want to do, rather than worrying about whether you can afford to.

Academic Development and Employability 

I think the biggest advantage that I have gained from going on exchange is that it has given me a different perspective: I never used to think of working much beyond Brisbane or Australia, but now that I’ve spent time overseas, it has really helped to broaden my horizons.

Highlight 

I think the highlight of my trip was just being in the middle of Europe. It gave me so many options in terms of traveling. And with the cheap (sparshiene) train tickets offered by OBB it wasn't too expensive

It was also great just to get away from the usual routine in Brisbane: I got to go to a new university, try new courses, meet new people, try new things, and explore new places for 5 months.

Top Tips

Make sure you put yourself out there at the start of semester and go to the events hosted for other exchange students. It can be a bit daunting if you don’t know anyone, but plenty of others are in the same situation!

When you fill out your residence registration form (Meldezettel) you will have a choice in listing your main residence: you can either list it as your Australian address, or your new Viennese address. I recommend listing your address in Vienna because that was you pay half price for your public transport card. (€75 instead of €150)

If you need some cheap clothes in Vienna, go to Primark

If you’re looking for cheap and reliable transport options from Vienna to other nearby places, check out FlixBus (aka Mein Fernbus), Orangeways, Student Agency Bus, PolskiBus (for Poland) and of course the Sparshiene train tickets on the OBB website.

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