Everyone says it, and I am going to have to say it again: The opportunity provided by UQ Abroad to study overseas is one you just have to take. I got to my 3rd year and it almost didn’t happen. Yes there is a lot of paper work, yes it is an enormous decision, but it will be the best one you will make during your time at UQ. Graz was the perfect place for my exchange as it was small enough to feel like home after only a few weeks and it is also in such an amazing location in order to see other parts of Europe.

I was in Graz for the last semester of my Bachelor of Arts, which isn’t possible for all programs, but since my majors are German and Spanish, I was able to find equivalent capstone courses. I chose Karl-Franzens University for this exact reason. It offered a huge variety of courses, and most importantly Spanish. This however turned out to be the main academic challenge I faced during my exchange. Spanish at 3rd year level in Graz is much more advanced than at UQ and the class structure is also vastly different which lead to a very challenging semester. Luckily, the teachers were accommodating and I was able to change classes to find the right level. This is something I found with all my subjects: three German classes, two Spanish and my Creative Writing elective. The university is very welcoming of exchange students and will go out of its way to make sure you get into the classes you need.

As well as studying German during class time, one of the greatest experiences for me was being able to use the language outside of a classroom environment. I quickly gained more confidence during the 3 week intensive course, in which I also made friends who I continued to spend time with for the rest of the semester. Another personal experience was living in student accommodation for the first time and also being in a double room meant I was thrown in the deep end. But the WIST Student Dorms are very affordable, my location on Moserhofgasse was perfect and I learnt a lot from living with both Austrian students and my Itailan/Ukranian/Russian roommate. I met some many amazing people from all over the world whilst in Graz and gained a much broader perspective of what student life is like in countries other than Australia.

I don’t think I am in a position to offer specific budget suggestions, however I found that the cost of basic living in Graz was a little cheaper than in Brisbane. Allow for any extra travel that you plan on doing, as train tickets do add up and also public transport can be expensive if you don’t purchase a student semester ticket (something which I would highly recommend if you are coming for winter semester and don’t plan on riding a bike through the snow.)

My top 5 tips:

  • Do the intensive German course with Treffpunkt Sprachen at the beginning of the semester. It is the best way to instantly meet people in the same position as you and you will make friends for the rest of your time in Graz.
  • Despite what I just wrote about buying a semester travel card- if you’re confident riding a bike- buy a bike! It will be one of your best friends.
  • Check out Tribeka for bagels, Le Schnurrbart for a really cozy atmosphere and The Spot for a beer and good music.
  • If you’re planning on learning German, don’t be intimidated by the Austrian dialects. Some are harder to understand than others, but even locals have trouble communicating each other sometimes.
  • If you’re going for winter semester take advantage for the last weeks of warmth and beautiful autumn weather. A lot of the main things to do around Graz, like various hikes and the great museums, close at the end of October for winter so try not to miss out!

 

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