Erin – Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration – Australia
Semester 1, 2023
Bachelor of Business
Embarking on an exchange experience in Vienna was an exciting prospect for me. Having travelled extensively over the years, I never anticipated encountering a significant cultural shock. However, Europe proved to be remarkably different from my home country of Australia, and I found myself facing unforeseen challenges. The language barrier was the primary hurdle, and despite the widespread English proficiency, I struggled to feel understood. People’s grasp of English was often limited, and my distinct Aussie accent only added to the communication difficulties. Conversations required me to speak slowly and explain myself repeatedly, which left me feeling somewhat isolated and frustrated. As days turned into weeks, the constant language barrier started to wear on me, making even simple tasks like buying train tickets or ordering coffee uncomfortable.
Different Education Method
Despite the initial challenges, my exchange experience in Vienna offered numerous rewards and valuable lessons. One of the highlights was the opportunity to study subjects that were not available at QUT. I took elective courses in governance of AI and blockchain sustainability, which expanded my knowledge and allowed me to delve deeper into these emerging fields. The teaching style in Vienna, with its smaller classes and interactive approach, resonated with me. The professors encouraged active participation, organizing activities like policy debates for AI, which made me feel fully engaged and invested in my education. It was refreshing to experience a different type of educational system that fostered critical thinking and collaboration.
Another aspect I cherished about the exchange experience was the freedom to explore Europe at a leisurely pace. Unlike the typical “summer Europe trip” where time is limited in each country, I could choose a destination and spend more than just a day there. This afforded me the opportunity to immerse myself in the culture and truly appreciate the nuances of each place. My love for hiking drew me to the magnificent landscapes of the Dolomites, Swiss Alps, and Austrian Alps. It was amidst these breathtaking mountains that I felt most connected to myself and nature. Solo traveling and hiking allowed me to savour every minute, relishing in the solitude and the exhilaration that comes from conquering new heights. These moments of self-discovery and serenity will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Some final words
Reflecting on my exchange experience, I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone seeking personal and academic growth. However, it is essential to approach the experience with realistic expectations. The glossy advertisements often depict it as the best few months of your life, filled with excitement and adventure. While those moments certainly exist, there are also times when you feel isolated, misunderstood, and yearn for the familiarity of home. Friends and loved ones back home, reduced to a small screen and a different time zone, can become distant and inaccessible due to unreliable internet connections. It is crucial to acknowledge and prepare for these moments of loneliness and to develop resilience and self-reliance.
Despite the challenges and occasional bouts of homesickness, my exchange experience in Vienna enriched my life in immeasurable ways. It taught me the importance of adaptability and open-mindedness, allowing me to appreciate diverse cultures and navigate unfamiliar situations with patience and grace. The educational opportunities and the chance to explore Europe at my own pace broadened my horizons and nurtured a thirst for knowledge and adventure. The journey wasn’t always smooth, but it was precisely those moments of struggle that propelled my personal growth. As I return home, I carry with me cherished memories, newfound confidence, and a deeper understanding of myself and the world around me.
Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.