Semester abroad in Vienna: coffee houses and library like a spaceship
GSOM SPbU graduate Tatiana Shulika went on exchange to Vienna University of economics and business (WU) and spent the fall semester of 2017 in Austria. Here is her story.
What would be great to know before leaving
Vienna is a very friendly city and a huge amount of introductory lectures, meetings, lunches, dinners, parties and WU buddy program will help you and hundreds of other students from all over the world to adjust quickly. So there should be no worries.
It is quite useful to know, if you arrive at the evening, that all the stores close at around 7:00 pm, on Saturdays even earlier, and on Sundays everything is closed all day long.
To apply for Austrian National visa D (from 3 to 6 months of staying) you need to go to Moscow. Usual visa fee is 100 EUR, but for students it’s free. Getting visa for me was quite standard procedure that required typical for such purpose documents. Full list of papers you can find on Austrian embassy webpage. However, you should take into consideration that in order to apply for Austrian visa, you should have the document confirming your accommodation in Austria and your financial status. People younger than 24 years should confirm they have €500 per month, and those who are older €900. Also you will need to confirm that you have money to pay rent. The list of required documents might change, so you should check for more up-to-date information before applying. You can email to the embassy, they answer quite fast.
The University organized for us Introductory and Cultural program which lasted 3 weeks. It was optional and in order to participate, you had to pay €250. But I never regretted signing up. All foreign students were divided into groups of about 20 people, so that the groups were as international as possible and it was very interesting to communicate with people from all over the world. We had a lot of excursions around Vienna, tours to other Austrian cities (Graz and Melk), welcome dinner, barbecue, bowling, waltz lesson, and a quest around Vienna.
In addition to the Welcome week, WU has a great buddy program. During the semester we also had several trips both in Austria and neighboring countries, as well as trips to the ski resort, weekly parties and a lot of other entertainment events, so there will be no time to be bored.
The WU Campus is just fantastic, it’s very modern and beautiful. There are several cafes, supermarket Spar, a sport ground and a book store. In addition, there is extremely large cafeteria Mensa with a huge selection of food, and a library that looks like a spaceship.
Place to live
I lived in OEAD dorms, there are 10 dorms around Vienna. The one I stayed in is called Molkereistrasse 1 and is 8 minutes walking from WU campus. There is a variety of types of rooms (number of roommates, price and so on can be different, so you can choose). In my dorm there were a laundry and common rooms. In my apartment I had my own bedroom, kitchen and bathroom I shared with two roomies. In my opinion the conditions of living were really good.
It was quite easy to choose courses since the variety of them was really big. But the registration was a nightmare: the number of spots is limited and the number of people is enormous, so you actually have around 1 minute to register for all desired courses, otherwise stay in a waiting list. I managed to register for all courses I wanted.
As for the educational process, on each subject there were different group projects, some of them lasted the whole semester, this allowed students to get to know each other. In comparison with GSOM SPbU it was easier to study at WU. Mainly because of the schedule.
Exam schedule was announced at the beginning of the semester. The exam period was rather intense because the duration of all courses was different and therefore I had usual classes and several exams during the same week. Once I even had 2 exams in one day.
Accommodation cost depends on where you live. I paid € 480 a month.
Food in Vienna is slightly more expensive than in St. Petersburg, but there are different chains of budget supermarkets, where the quality of food is not lower than in regular ones.
As I said above, for Welcome week I paid € 250.
For students there is a travel card for € 75, with it you can use all transport during the whole semester.
I really advice you to visit Vienna cafes. The best apple strudel is in the cafe Demel.
Best practices you would recommend to implement at GSOM
In WU the schedule of all classes and exams appears before the semester starts and even before the end of the registration for the courses. It does not change during the semester. So it is very convenient, because you have possibility to plan your trips and work on group projects.