Outline: Rita Monteiro, a Portuguese girl shares her experience on the city of Vienna and the University WU Vienna #Uduni #Uduni Erasmus Series #Wu Vienna
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First of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a 20-year-old management student at Nova School of Business and Economics. As part of my Bachelors, I needed to have some international experience, either an exchange program, summer school, internship or get some special courses at Nova. I wanted to go abroad and have the experience of being on my own but an exchange program would be too long for me, so I started looking for Summer Schools.
A friend of mine was in Vienna for exchange when Summer Schools were starting to receive applications, she had nothing but good things to say about the country and was loving the city and its international community and as I wanted to take on German in the following semester I decided it was the best of both worlds. Moreover, the courses offered that year were very interesting; it’s a well-known university and the overall package for the program was not that expensive. Furthermore, the country has borders with 8 countries, and for me that immediately stood for opportunities to travel.
I went to WU, in Vienna in July and August 2015 and completed 2 courses, with each being 1,5 week long and spent weekends and an extra week travelling within Austria and some of its neighboring countries.
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What was your first impression about Austria? Do you remember some details?
I remember arriving on a Sunday, which was not a good decision at all. Apparently everything, and I really do mean everything, is closed on Sundays, and so it was scary to walk around a street where there was no one in sight and no shops opened. Luckily nothing happened.
After being there for a while, have your first impressions changed? How?
Vienna is actually a city full of life. There are plenty of places to visit, not only within this beautiful historical city but also within Austria. Moreover, contrary to what is said, people are very nice and always willing to help. There is never a problem when speaking in English.
What are the most positive things you have experienced there?
It is a very safe city, very clean and people are very respectful and helpful, especially to foreigners. The city receives a lot of students from all over the world so there are a number of clubs and bars that through parties especially for them. There are also a lot of fairs and beer festivals with all the typical Austrian food and beer.
Plus they have lots of discounts for students and are the country’s transportation system is amazing, so it is very easy to get from one place to another.
And the most negative ones?
Perhaps prices, restaurants are much more expensive and when shopping for groceries some items can be 4 times more expensive than in Portugal.
How has your academic experience been there? What surprised you the most?
I was definitely surprised by the quality of the teaching and, of course, WU’s facilities. I don’t think I had ever had teachers able to engage with students in such a way that are able to turn 4-hour classes into an exciting learning experience. The structure was always a 1h lecture, 2h of an in-group case discussion and its presentation, in which it was rule to have only one person from each country, and 1h brainstorming and summary of the material taught.
What about Austrian people? Have you got along with them easily? Many cultural barriers?
The people I met were definitely the best part of this experience. I was the only Portuguese and one of the only 4 Europeans in the Program. There was everything installed for cultures to shock, but instead we all decided to learn from one another and keep an open mind. At first it was difficult to get people to lose the habit of speaking on their own mother tongue (there was a group of Chinese and another of Latin-American’s) but once we started doing things as one big group that was rapidly let go. Although we had only 3 weeks of classes, the intensity of the experience enabled us to do many activities together and we grew very close to one another. In fact, I have been to Amsterdam and stayed with a friend from the program and many other classmates have been together after the program too.
Did you enjoy your social life here in Vienna? Which kind of activities did you like to do in your spare time?
This program was the perfect balance between academics and leisure activities. Classes in the morning and always a lot of optional activities developed by our tutors in the afternoon. We did everything together, and as there were 2 weeks of constant high temperatures (we had more high temperature days in 2 weeks than Austrians had had for the entire summers of the last 3 years combined) we went swimming a lot, experienced Vienna’s finest cafés, went clubbing, once to an Hispanic club and learnt dancing from the best: Peruvians and Colombians, we had weekends in Prague, Bratislava and Hallstatt, went to amusement parks and visited all the main monuments.
Would you like to come back? What do you miss the most?
I would definitely go back, especially if I could gather the amazing people I met during my time there.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about going to study in Vienna?
It is an amazing experience that I highly recommend to everyone! The experience I had was a bit different from the so-called normal international experience but due to the intensity of the program, having the same classes with the same people every single day made us grow very close to one another and 7 months after the end of the program our facebook group still has posts, we skype and message each other regularly. Plus, Vienna is a beautiful city, full if international students and plenty of things to do, so that there is never a dull time.