Living & Studying in Vienna

I’ve been living in Vienna for two months now, (which is kind of scary in itself – I’m over a third of a way through exchange and I’ve somehow survived 2 months of solo living). In these two months, I’ve realised Vienna is an incredible city to live in.

People often ask me why I chose Vienna: the locals with a tone of disbelief in their

Climbing Kahlenberg, amidst the vineyards

Climbing Kahlenberg, amidst the vineyards

voice, and Australians with a genuine curiosity, bordering on slight doubt. For me, it’s because of the experience. When else will I be able to live in such a different country? Any move overseas takes courage. I’m not tooting my own horn here, but if you want to see how courageous you are, making your first move out of home to a country on the other side of the planet is a pretty good litmus test.  I did it to test myself. I can safely say that I’ve successfully achieved that objective. Whilst there have been moments where I’ve questioned my sanity in taking the leap to go on exchange, it’s

Gorgeous buildings that are just perfumeries or apartments

Gorgeous buildings that are just perfumeries or apartments

been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and the liveability and charm of Vienna has helped make the transition very smooth.

The metro system here (as it generally is throughout Europe) is great – it’s very efficient, interconnected, and the apps to figure out how to get from point A to B are also easy to navigate. I think when I come home, that’s going to be one of the things I’ll miss the most about Vienna.

I study at WU – the Vienna University of Economics and Business. Like at QUT, the staff are passionate about what they teach. However, the assessment style and the way classes are run are a little different from QUT.  There’s a heavy emphasis here on class participation, and assessment tends to be numerous smaller assignments, or assessed homework, rather than the traditional ‘Assignment/Mid-Sem/Final’ that we’re used to at QUT. Class length and regularity also vary considerably – some classes are 3 hours (generally semester-long), others can be 8 hours, because they’re

The QUT cube meets the WU Campus

The QUT cube meets the WU Spaceship (more commonly known as ‘The Library and Learning Centre’)

intensives (like Summer semester). Some classes may be twice a week for a month, or they may be once a week for the semester, or until Christmas: this is both a blessing and a (mild) curse. Blessing because it means you aren’t locked into a timetable, giving you freedom to traverse Europe through semester. It’s only a mild curse because you can’t remember your room or timetable.

 

The campus is also incredibly modern – the oldest buildings there are from about 2013, when the university relocated to its present location.  This lies in stark contrast to the rest of Vienna, where every building looks gorgeous, no matter how mundane its purpose.

Whilst Vienna is not quite as integrated with nature as Brisbane is, there are plenty of walks through green areas on the city’s fringes. These are all easily accessible by public transport, and you could very easily spend 4-5 hours just following the trails, like I did when I walked through the beautiful Vienna Wood.

City Walk 3, through the Vienna Woods

City Walk 3, through the Vienna Woods

Two months in and my exchange in Vienna is proving to be a fantastic adventure – I’m still always finding new things, and I can’t believe how the time has flown.

A Week in Vienna

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Swimming in the Alte Donaukanal (Old Danube Canal) with new friends

It’s been a week since I arrived in Vienna for a semester to study at the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU). Before I arrived in Vienna though, I was most worried about making friends with an entirely new group of people. I had back-up plans for other things: cooking failed? Go out and buy something. Got home sick? FaceTime. Got lost on the streets? Ask someone. There didn’t seem a viable alternative to not making friends, other than “independence” (not to be confused with “loneliness”).

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A night at the Prater, Vienna’s largest park

My fears were short-lived, and of course, totally unwarranted. I won’t lie – I had some help. My buddy picked me up from the airport, and after a few days of settling in, I contacted a friend who is also studying in Vienna. And although I only knew two people in Vienna, it doesn’t matter. Because those people know people who know people.

The fantastic thing about exchange is that everybody is in the same boat as you. Everybody is flustered at the thought of buying things in German (a language most exchange students can barely speak), everybody is running around sorting out paperwork (conveniently all in German) and struggling through getting groceries (you don’t realise how much you value pictures until it’s not English). You are not alone. It’s actually super easy to make friends – and often, the best friendships come from the most serendipitous circumstances.

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Admiring the sights at Schloss Schönbrunn

Within my first week I’ve swum in the Danube, gone on a rollercoaster, explored a palace and cathedrals, met people from Bulgaria to Brisbane to North America, been to the closing night of the Vienna Film Festival, explored Rathaus (the town hall), and the list continues.

I’ve only just scratched the surface and I can’t wait to see what the next 23 weeks hold in store!