Joyce van der Heijden in Austria

Field of study in Wageningen: Food Technology
Study period exchange: 11/02/2019 until 28/06/2019
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 see what it feels like to live in a big city and in another country.

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

I preferred going to a country where I could understand the language and Austria is very central in Europe so it is easy for traveling around.

3. Accessibility to reach destination

Do you have any tips to reach your exchange destination?

Train could be a possibility, but the cheapest way is to fly with Wizzair from Eindhoven Airport. You then take the train from the airport to the city (buy separate tickets from ÖBB, don’t take the CAT!).

4. University and studying

Could you provide some general information about the followed courses?

I also did a separate intensive advanced German course (this is fine if you had German in high school). The course was quite expensive (250 EUR) but the teacher, Elke, was amazing and the people from the course became my best friends.

How is the study formalized?

The courses are usually divided in seminars or lectures. A seminar is usually one week long, with courses that last from 9 – 5. They then don’t have an exam, but a presentation or an essay. These are obligatory to attend, and very easy to get credits for.
The courses that consist of lectures usually have 2 hours of lecture per week for a few months. These often have a written exam, which you need to study quite hard for, even though it might only be a few credits. It’s not obligatory to go to these lectures, and if it’s a course with many Austrian students, don’t be surprised if you are the only one that shows up.
Because there are no periods like in Wageningen, it’s not unusual to have 3 different courses at the same time. As long as there are not seminars, it’s fine. Make sure you enrol as soon as you get to the BOKU, because you can then enrol for your courses. Some courses might already be full and probably some of your seminars will be at the same time. Studying at the BOKU requires a lot of planning from your side (which the BOKU doesn’t help you with), but most of my courses were quite interesting!

What is the culture of the university?

There’s much less students per class (expect around 10 students). The teachers are very approachable and there are often guest lecturers from outside the university. The university is very environmentally oriented and the students are very engaged with what is happening around them.

What does the university offer the student additionally?

The food is good, a little bit expensive though. You can enrol for one sport at a time via USI and it costs around 35 euros for one semester.

5. Housing-travelling-living

What are the possibilities for housing?

You can sign up at the OAED and get a room quite easily (like Idealis). I got my room via a friend, but Facebook also has many groups and pages that offer rooms.

What is the culture of the country like?

Very nice country, with many mountains. The food is good, you have probably heard of Wiener schnitzel and Sachertorte. Quite comparable to the Netherlands.

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

Generally ranges from 350-450 euros per month.

Could you give some information about public transport infrastructure?

Public infrastructure is amazing in Vienna, you absolutely don’t need a bike. A semester card for unlimited traveling in Vienna costs 78 euros (don’t forget to turn off your OV in the Netherlands, you’ll get 99 euros per month for this). You get to university easily by metro or bus.

6. Free time

What are must-sees in the area? 

In the Summer semester you have 3 weeks of holiday with Easter, so use those. ESN organizes many weekends away, so I recommend you join those. I’ve been on daytrips to Bratislava and Salzburg (Prague and Budapest are also very close) and weekend trips to Bad Gastein to ski, Romania, Slovenia and Upper Austria to visit my roommates’ parents.
Must-sees are Schönbrunn, Belvedere (wait for the last Friday of the month for free admission), Hundertwasserhaus, the Naschmarkt and the Leopoldmuseum (also check the website for free admission, for example during the Summer opening).

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

The Karlsberg is nice for a little hike. I loved the Beaver Brewing Company for nice craft beers and good burgers. Keep an eye on what ESN is organising, they have very nice activities. The beer Mondays are also cool.

7. Challenges & best moment abroad

What was a challenge you have experienced?

Having to organize a lot of things by yourself, but this makes you very independent.

What was your best memory abroad?

Visiting the surrounding countries with my new friends. Essentially, any free time spend with my new friends there (visiting festivals, picnicking at the Donaukanal, having nice burgers and beer)

8. Contact details