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 Norwegian Erasmus student before starting your term at the University of Vienna!
Please note that this report gives the personal experience of this student when she 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!
My Erasmus term at the University of Vienna
A student from Bergen at the Universität Wien
Reasons why I chose Vienna as a place to study
I had heard that Vienna would be an exciting and beautiful city with a good living quality, which is also very centrally located in Europe and offers great travel opportunities.
Furthermore I improved my German language skills, even if the Austrian German sometimes is a bit hard to understand. Studying in Vienna I had the opportunity to gain another perspective on the language / culture / history / politics in the German speaking region, more than the usual “Germany-focused” approach.
Practical things to know before your Erasmus stay
It is smart to arrive in Vienna well ahead of the starting date of lectures. I traveled to Vienna in late July and took a German language course during August.
The initial period of registration for courses, etc. can be quite complicated, as you have to understand how to register for the different courses. Before you can register for courses you must register yourself with the Incoming Erasmus Office (see your welcome letter for details).
Information about the city of Vienna can be easily found on the internet, for details regarding the University of Vienna go to their website (www.univie.ac.at). Nevertheless, you will get the best idea on how the system works once you arrive in Vienna.
There are no visa requirements or travel limitations if you come as an Erasmus student from Norway, but you must register with a Bezirksamt within three days after your arrival. However, this listing is only a formality and just takes a few minutes to do.
Arriving in Vienna and getting to know the city
I got very good help from my Austrian buddy. Simply register for the Buddy Network at your host university before you arrive in Vienna. My Buddy helped me understanding the University system, assisted me in the registration for different courses, etc.
A colleague told me that he spent countless hours trying to find out for himself about the University of Vienna procedures, which can be quite frustrating.
Student Housing in Vienna
My place at the student residence was organized by the University of Vienna’s housing department, which I arranged before arriving in Vienna. The housing service worked well. The location of the residence was good, just 5 min from the city center by Metro.
Unfortunately I quickly discovered that the price I paid was quite expensive compared to the price of a room in a shared apartment. Another Norwegian student found such a room in a flat with other Erasmus students as well as Austrians where he paid only half of the dorms cost. The website www.jobwohnen.at is helpful in locating private accomodation.
Social integration and leisure
The Erasmus Student Network organizes many events and trips – something can be found for anyone. Once you register, you recieve their monthly e-mail with info about all the events. I did not use this offerings myself very often because I was more interested in spending time with my Austrian friends.
When it comes to spending your free time in Vienna, there are heaps of options for everyone: Vienna is a city of culture and music, so you have concerts of all kinds, several operas and lots of theaters. As well as plenty of different clubs and a diverse nightlife. In short, there is always something happening in Vienna.
There really are a lot of people in Vienna, so it can be difficult to associate with them in a quite anonymous big city. In my residence there were a lot of Austrians, who were all very nice. But I believe that Austrians are generally a bit like Norwegians, somewhat reserved around people they do not know (until they drink some alcohol 😉
Specifics regarding the studying in Austria
The big difference is that I had lectures basically every day throughout the semester. There was never really a long time for independent study as I was used from Bergen, where it can go even a month without lectures.
Most of the courses I took were lectures (VO), without any practical part, and I regretted that I did not take more practical subjects (UE). In the 2 practical courses I took was a lot of submissions but no big deal. The exams were generally at the end of the term, which can therefore be quite stressful having all the exams in the same week. This means there is not enough time to immerse yourself in the subjects before the exam.
In most subjects, we were given copied slides or were even able to download the presentation. I bought just one book which was much cheaper than in Norway. You can borrow all the necessary books in the university library and use them for several months (by renewing them)
The last thing I have to add is that every course gives little ECTS points. To take 30 ECTS you must perhaps take more than 10 different courses because most courses are worth 2-3 ECTS.
My Erasmus time in Vienna was very enjoyable, I met a lot of new people from Vienna as well as all over Europe, took my travel opportunities to neighboring cities and was able to improve my German.
I would have liked to stay in Vienna for a second semester, as my one semester was quite terse. It takes some time to familiarize yourself with the new life, to get used to the language and to get to know new people.
Katrine from Bergen, Norway