Bachelor of Arts/Laws
Bachelor of Arts/Laws

Before I came to Austria, I had heard from so many friends how much exchange was a rewarding, life-changing experience. So I guess I shouldn’t be as surprised as I am to find out how much that is true. It’s such an incredible experience to take yourself off to the other side of the world, learn to live independently, forge friendships with people from other cultures and, if you’re heading to a non-English speaking country, learn to operate in another language. It’s a completely unforgettable experience, and I highly recommend it to everyone.

I mostly studied law subjects, with one linguistics subject and a German course. In Vienna, most law courses have small credit-weighting (2-3 ECTS), so in order to study the equivalent of three Australian subjects, I had to study nine law subjects. The advantage was getting to explore so many areas – it’s the perfect way to maximize your electives! The disadvantage was juggling eleven subjects over the course of the semester.

There are two major draw-cards for studying in Vienna. Firstly: travel opportunities. Austria has eight bordering countries, so needless to say it’s relatively cheap to explore so many different places before, during and after the semester! The second unique advantage is the amount of musical and cultural events in the city. If you keep your eyes open (or your internet browser saved to wien.info), you can stumble across free Wiener Philharmonic concerts, choir performances, 4 euro ($6) standing tickets to operas and ballets as well as many markets and parades.

Personally, some of my favourite experiences in Vienna was adopting the free* bicycle rental system as my full-time mode of transportation and being challenged to improved my (very basic) German. The bicycle paths in Vienna are great, and for a mere 1 euro registration fee, it’s an extremely cheap way to get around. I also found it an amazing way to get acquainted with the city. I was fortunate to live along the Donaukanal, so rides to and from university were very scenic.

Austria is a very affordable city to live in, which meant that most students could indulge in eating out relatively frequently. There’s a thriving, varied student culture in the city and I’d recommend getting involved with the student organisations. While ESN and ÖH are affiliated with Universität Wien, I’d also recommend signing up to EBN with WU (the economics university) as you can get involved with their events too.

Also, for those looking to go on exchange in Semester 1, 2015, Austria will be hosting the Eurovision Song Competition!

Hot Tips:
1. Take up a semester German course. Classes are made up of people with a huge variety of native languages, so they are (mostly) exclusively taught in German. The immersion experience is challenging but incredibly rewarding.
2. Feeling lazy about cooking? Der Wiener Deewan is an all-you-can-eat, pay-as-you-want Pakistani restaurant near university.
3. For those that appreciate the quality of Australian coffee, People On Caffeine serves an amazing brew (complete with the kind of customer service that isn’t readily practiced in the rest of Austria).
4. Frequent Naschmarkt as often as possible. 20 felafel for 2 euros became a staple in my diet (and my budget).
5. If you’re a frequent traveler, I highly recommend the mobile app “CityMaps2Go” where you can download entire city maps to be used offline. It can be a great safety net for exploring the city and getting yourself oriented, especially as wifi is difficult to find in some countries.
 

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