Within this review section former exchange students to Vienna share their stories, experiences and opinions with you. Enjoy!

Being new in Vienna…

Dutch Erasmus Students in Vienna

We are two students from The Netherlands, studying here for the Summer Semester. In this piece we would like to tell you something about our experiences here in Vienna, as being international students, and the Erasmus Student Network (ESN).
First we should introduce ourselves! We are Silvia and Jelske, studying in the third year of Human Resource Management in Zwolle (North-east of The Netherlands). We both wanted to get some international experience and enjoy some adventure. We could choose from different cities in different countries. We both have chosen Vienna for it’s culture, music, environment and all the good stories (about the nightlife…) we’ve heard from students who came here before us. All our expectations seem to be true! Vienna is a great town, we have done so many things already; cultural stuff, several concerts/ballet, enjoyed the food and terraces and last but not least… the superb nightlife!
When we came here, we heard of ESN. We heard that ESN organises all nice things for us incomings, to let us get to know Vienna and each other… A great initiative! We really wanted to be a part of that and be involved with organising things, so we have joined ESN. What do we do there? Well, we help the board members with the organising and we are the link between them and the incoming students. ESN has already organised some successful trips to Kaiko, Soho, Johan Strauss Party-boat and Heurigen. Trips to e.g. Spa Baden and Salzburg will follow.
The main task of ESN is to improve the social integration of exchange students and represent their needs and expectations. 220 ESN Sections around Europe organise an infinite number of activities for foreign guests in order to integrate them in local community and support them in any need. The activities are among others: pick up service, orientation week, Buddy/mentor system, language exchange projects, cultural and social activities, trips and events.
As you have already read, ESN has helped us in many ways to get to know more about Vienna and gave us some opportunities to get to know each other… Besides ESN, we of course did our own discovering and experiencing.. Since we’re both Dutch and from the same (social) study, we do a lot of this experiencing together. We have already noticed cultural differences in many ways.. Not only the differences between our culture and the Austrian one, but also the differences in our international group. For example the way everybody is talking about “the Gemütlichkeit from the Viennese”, while we experience that everyone here is always in a hurry; passing on the electric stairs in the U-bahn (pushing you to the side), the very quick way of handling the cash desk etc. In The Netherlands people tend to take more time for their customers (customer service) and at the electric stairs people just calmly wait till they are down.
Of course there is also the difference in eating habits; in The Netherlands we are used to eat between 17 and 19 o’clock. We see that the French eat much later, like from 19 o’clock. The most funniest example to name here, is the one from our first day at school. We know that we are not the only ones who were completely surprised by this. We were sitting in the classroom and after the teacher stopped talking, all the Austrians started knocking on the table… First we thought it was a joke! Now we know it’s usual to do so in Fachhochschulen and Universities. Nice to know…
We hope you enjoyed reading about our experiences in Vienna and about ESN. Have a good time in Vienna!

Jelske from The Netherlands