Nick van der Klauw in Austria

Field of study in Wageningen: Landscape Architecture & Spatial Planning
Study period exchange: 01/10/2018 until 05/02/2019
Country (exchange): Austria
City (exchange): Vienna
University (exchange): BOKU

2. Motivation for exchange

Why did you choose to go on study exchange?

I wanted to experience studying and living in another country. In addition, I wanted to see how spatial planning works in another environment. Basically, I wanted to broaden my horizon.

What is the reason you chose for this country/university?

I wanted to go to a country where I spoke the language (apart from Dutch that are English and German). I felt that going to the United States, Canada, New Zealand or Australia was a bit ambitious, and I did not really care for studying in Ireland or the United Kingdom that much. So it would either be Germany or Austria. The two remaining partner universities were Humboldt in Berlin and BOKU in Vienna, and since the former did not have a clear overview of the courses and also seemed to focus more on the landscape architecture part, I chose for the BOKU in Vienna. It was more or less my last option in a way, but I did not regard it as such. Vienna itself is perceived as one of the most liveable cities in the world, so I wanted to see and experience it with my own eyes and body.

3. Accessibility to reach destination

Do you have any tips to reach your exchange destination?

Book a night train in advance so you don’t pay too much, but still enjoy a comfortable ride. Flying is also an option, but just unsustainable. If possible, try to find accommodation on site before you start your semester, like a holiday for a week dedicated to find a room.

4. University and studying

Could you provide some general information about the followed courses?

How is the study formalized?

The registration for classes is not ideal; classes regularly overlap and registration is only possible when you arrived at the uni. so some classes might already been full. The academic level is quite okay. You have an advantage if you have experience with writing and reading papers and doing projects, because that is not necessarily something they expect you to have. The students are, however, more skilled in computer, design programs and presumably factual knowledge. Workload is managable, although it requires considerable planning because everything accumulates towards the end, and that might result in unnecessary stress. Most material is provided by the teachers, and they have an impressive library with a lot of books.

What is the culture of the university?

I think the culture of the university varies per department, but in my experience most teachers are quite open for own input and relaxed in a way. Teacher provide quite a lot of feedback, which I really appreciate, but contact with teacher might be a bit more formal than at the WUR for example.

What does the university offer the student additionally?

I believe there are two students restaurants at the university and around the campus there are also some food stands. I have not used any other facilities.

5. Housing-travelling-living

What are the possibilities for housing?

There are plenty of housing options, but finding a decent priced room requires some effort. Like I said before, taking a week to find a decent room is definitely worth it. I ended up booking room upfront and it was everything, but what I expected and I was stuck to a rental company I completely distrusted. The uni doesn’t offer rooms, but refers to an organization which doesn’t offer the greatest rooms. Finding a room in a student house (WG) is the most ideal and usely the cheapest.

What is the culture of the country like?

Shops close early and are closed on Sunday.

Could you give a general price indication of the place of residence compared to living in Wageningen?

Rooms are more expensive but excessive so. Food (especially fruit, chicken and vegetables) are more expensive, but eating out is generally cheaper.

Could you give some information about public transport infrastructure?

Public transport is cheap; a semester ticket for €78 or €150 allows you to use every public transport within Vienna from September till January. The public transport is honestly great. The metro combined with the tram and bus lines form a spider web, and you can go from one side of town to the other in an hour.

6. Free time

What are must-sees in the area? 

The inner city and the various palaces are accessible by public transport.

What does not appear in the travel guide, but is worth a visit?

If you like urban planning, you might want to have a look at Seestadt which gives you an Almere kind of vibe, but than more high rise buildings.

7. Challenges & best moment abroad

What was a challenge you have experienced?

Finding a decent room, but that is just me. And doing groceries on time.

What was your best memory abroad?

Having breakfast (just a coffee really) at the McDonalds at 8:30 with friends and see all the students of a different uni passing by. In general it is enjoying the city with my friends from Wageningen.