UQ Program: Bachelors of Arts/Law

My exchange to Graz, Austria, has been brilliant from start to finish.

I studied at the University of Graz as part of my Arts/Law degree. I chose it particularly because of its academic record, especially in the area of International Law. I was definitely not disappointed. The range of subjects is huge, as well as the expertise and training of the lecturers. For example, in one of my subjects (Development of International Law: Alternatives to Treaty-Making), my lecturer also held a senior position in the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, and was able to bring her expertise from this position into the classroom. The subjects were extremely interesting and usually were accompanied by practical experience: for example during a Law of Armed Forces class, we were taken on a tour of the Joint Forces Command and were given an insight into how the Geneva and Hague Conventions are applied on the ground level.

Studying, however, soon fell somewhat down the priority list. Living in a student dorm means that there is something happening every night, you make friends in an instant, and you soon learn a true appreciation for all the different types of Austrian beer. Suddenly your best friends are Californians, Finns, Canadians and South Africans (not to mention the Austrians!). Whenever you go travelling with friends, you are always content with the knowledge that between you all, you have about half of the world’s languages covered. And you definitely go travelling. Austria is brilliantly situated – during the semester we took weekend vacations to carnivale in Venice, Munich, Nice, Florence, Rome, Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Prague and finally, to a gigantic music festival in the middle of south-west Germany. The friends you make on exchange are friends for life – and now at the end, when all I seem to do is say goodbye to one person after another, I know that really it’s just au revoir, or auf wiedersehen or until the next time.

Some tips. 1. Buy a bike... Immediately. The buses are expensive (2 euros for an hour), there are no real hills (except Schlossberg of course!), and the schnitzel does not magically work its way off your thighs itself. There’s a great bike shop on Keplerstrasse between the train station and Lendtplatz.

2. But still eat schnitzel. And krenn. And pumpkin seed oil. And käsekrainer. In buschenschanks. Make time to discover all the food that Styria has to offer. Eventually, you will just give up and buy bigger pants – I am sure H&M makes a killing from exchange students.

3. Say Yes to every social outing/foreign trip. Even if it’s with people you don’t know. Even if it’s -10 degrees.

4. Meet the locals. They will teach you how to drink 80% Stroh like a proper Austrian. Also the Austrian sense of humour is ridiculous and incomprehensible and must be experienced.

5. Even if you’re having a rubbish day, make sure you remember that, as my super Aussie friend Nev always says, ‘WE’RE IN EUROPE!! AMAAAAZING!’

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