Setina: University of Graz (Semester 1, 2013)
I’m enrolled in an LLB/Bachelor of Business Management and went on exchange in Semester 1, 2013 to the University of Graz and completed electives towards my LLB.
I undertook four courses, Space Law, Law of Armed Conflict, Human Security & Common Concerns in International Law and Introduction to International Dimensions of Law. Space Law was an intensive course so I essentially took three courses the majority of the exchange. Only two of these courses were on my approved list of courses before I left UQ so you are not committed to those courses if you find something better as some courses are not available while you are pre-planning your load. You might also find that some courses have better (easier) assessment, and whilst you are there to attend classes, you are also there to travel as much as possible and get out the most you can. As I had three courses the majority of the semester, I was only at university three days a week, for a maximum of two hours at a time. Every student dorm is a maximum of 15 minutes from university by bus, a little longer if you bike so it’s extremely convenient.
Attending a different university will always have challenges, and the professors are not always clear on assessment due dates. The system of the university is difficult, and the administration isn’t particularly efficient. You have to top up your printing card every time with at least 10 euros which can only done at one place in the entire campus! I did find it time consuming to find my way around and get simple things such as your ID card, but I did not enrol in the intensive German course, so I wasn’t familiar with the campus, and the orientation they give you is very basic.
A huge benefit is to meet Austrians, you will get to know your buddy but also try meet other new people. Locals and exchange students go out most Wednesday nights and this is a great opportunity to meet locals. It will always come extremely handy when you might find yourself in tough situations as I did a few times!
I stayed at the WIST dorms in Ghegagasse. WIST were extremely nice, but completely useless at doing anything you asked on time, unless it was a huge problem (broken toilet). You must continuously annoy them to get anything done! Check that all your lights work as they will help you replace them at the beginning as you are new, but if it happens towards the end then they expect you to change things yourself. I asked for a single room but was given a roommate, but it was the best experience and we became really close.
If you plan on travelling before, during and after semester then I suggest you take at least $15,000 with you for peace of mind. If you receive the student HECS loan and travel grant then it is not a lot to save. You also receive 400 euros from the University of Graz so accommodation is outrageously cheap. A lot of people on exchange had little money or ran out of money, so budget carefully. There’s nothing worse than constantly being stressed about money. At Graz, you attend classes for 3 weeks and then have a 3 week holiday at Easter which is an easy way to spend quickly. Try and be as flexible as possible, as Vienna and Klagenfurt and Linz are the only cities that run Easyjet or Ryan Air from Austria and only go to London. You can always look into train options, or catching flights out of Budapest, Ljubljana or Bratislava to get the cheaper options. If you’re not flexible then Graz isn’t the best place for cheap flights.
- Choose subjects with easy assessment so that you are not stressed with university work
- If you need to ship your clothes home, ship from Maribor in Slovenia (hour on train) as it is half the price of Austrian shipping – I was too late to realise this!
- Buy a bicycle or transportation card for the semester – check with your buddy as there is paperwork involved. Students get a deal where they pay 68 euros for 4 months
- Take a 28 Degrees Mastercard and a Prepaid backup travel card so that your backup doesn’t charge you outrageous fees
- Don’t always choose the cheaper earlier flight as public transport might not run that early and you have to pay for taxis!