Within this review section former exchange students to Vienna share their stories, experiences and opinions with you.
Make sure you read this experience report by a Canadian exchange student before starting your term at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration!
Please note that this report gives the personal experience of this student when he was in Vienna some time ago. Costs of living, visa regulations, etc. may have changed since then – make sure to double-check before coming to Vienna!
Exchange semester in Vienna
A student from Vancouver at the Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien
My name is Michael, I am an accounting student. My interests include soccer, hockey and most other sports. I wanted to travel as well as earn credit towards my degree. I chose Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration because I wanted to go to Europe and it was one of the schools that offered courses that I needed to complete my degree. I was able to determine this using the exchange credit database that the Faculty of Business Administration at SFU offers.
Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration is set up to receive incoming students in September; however, the semester does not start until October. There is the OK program that is available for exchange students at a small cost; however I did not take part in this as I chose to travel from August 16 until October 1. I did hear very good things about the OK program.
The visa process was much more time consuming than it should have been. There is a large list of things that you must send to the embassy in Ottawa. Austria does not issue a student visa at the consulate in Vancouver. The university sent out an email that stated what was needed; however, I also had to use the Austrian website, and call the embassy. A problem with calling is that they are only open from 9am to 12 noon eastern time. Another challenge with the visa was getting everything together. I did not receive confirmation of my housing nor the confirmation letter until mid July; both are required for the visa. You must get police clearance which costs about $50 and only took 10 minutes. Also you must send all the material to the embassy with a self addressed envelope for them to return it. This made me nervous as I only had about 3-4 weeks to get my visa and during that period I did not have my passport or my birth certificate as they had both been sent to the embassy. However I received my student visa about 2 weeks after I had sent it.
You also need to submit documents showing how you will be arriving in Austria and when you will be leaving. However, when I applied I was unsure when my classes would end, so I purchased a very cheap airline ticket going to London in mid January. This worked as proof of leaving Austria because England is not a Schengen country.
I had been travelling until October 1 and as a result I flew from Frankfurt to Bratislava and then had to take a bus into Vienna. This was not difficult to arrange as there are busses waiting outside of the airport in Bratislava to take people to Vienna.
Once in Vienna travelling was very easy. There are many trains and airlines to travel throughout Europe. The buddy program offered by the university also offers exchange students the opportunity to travel. I did not go on any of the trips and I heard mixed reviews. Some people enjoyed travelling with a large group of exchange students while others thought it was too expensive to go with the buddy program and that it would have been better to go with a small group of friends. For travel within the city I purchased monthly metro passes; however, it may be cheaper to purchase a pass for the entire semester. It depends how long you are planning to stay.
There are several universities in Vienna. I was attending the business university, however, the housing office is located at the other campus, and thus I thought that the classes would be there. I missed my first class because I was at the wrong campus. Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration known as WU for Wien Universitat is located a short distance from the bigger campus. The WU campus is located near the Spittelau stop on the metro. The best recommendation I have is to sign up for a buddy and they should help show you around when you arrive. My buddy helped me by picking up my keys because I got into Vienna too late to do it myself.
Classes are very different at WU. Many of them are block classes meaning that there may only be 4 sessions of 6-8 hours each over the whole semester. When applying for classes the university says that as long as you can attend 80% of the lectures then you can sign up for it. Therefore do not worry if your classes conflict. The university does not have any gym facilities for students. This was a shock to me coming from SFU. You can sign up for gyms around the city; however, they are about 40 euros a month if you pay by month.
I lived in the OeAD-Gastehaus on Sechshauser Strasse, this was a new building and was very nice. Rent was 390 euro per month for my own room. Everything was provided for me in the room. However, you are only allowed to have one person in the room and it is 12 euros a night to have a guest. There is also a cleaning staff that cleans the rooms once a week. The building has a mix of exchange students and Austrian students living in it. These rooms are fairly large and it is near to the metro station Längenfeldgasse.
As you can see there is a single bed. In the bottom left hand corner there is a desk with a phone line and internet connection. The open door down the hall is the bathroom and behind the bathroom is a small kitchen. There was a window which opened, however it was above a busy street. I never figured out how to change the temperature; however, the room was always warm.
Things to do in Vienna
There are many places to see in Vienna from shopping on Mariahilfer Strasse to walking around the palace of Schönbrunn. Many of these places do not cost very much either. The buddy network also provides many social opportunities such as a boat cruise and dinners throughout the semester.
I went to the Volksoper, which was an opera. Tickets were only 7 euros; however the seats had an obstructed view. This meant that I was sitting behind a pole. It was still a wonderful experience to see an opera in Vienna even if my view was obstructed.
During the winter the university student union sells Glühwein on the front steps. Glühwein is hot red wine. This is sold for only 1 euro compared to 4 euros at the Christmas markets. I was told that it usually does not start to snow in Vienna until January. The only time that snowed more than a little flurry was on December 16, when I left. I highly recommend going to the Christmas markets and looking around:
As you can tell by the picture, it is very crowded. This is the Christmas market at the Rathaus. There are stands filled with people selling different things. It can be a good place to buy Christmas gifts. The Christmas markets are free to walk around in.
Michael from Vancouver, Canada