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Erasmus experience in Vienna, Austria

Why did you choose to go to Vienna, Austria?

It's hard to explain the sensations which preceded my departure: filling in loads of documents, choosing the destination, quarreling with the deanship to validate my exams, the feverish waiting for the list. I have confusing memories of that period, probably too involved in that change of life which I had always waited so much that I couldn't make it real. I didn't understand when I was given my chosen destination, either. Also, this was the fruit of a troubled reflection. Because in the end you go to Erasmus according to the valuation parameters. What are you looking for, pure amusement? Then you go to Spain. Do you want to study? You look for some tough faculty. Do you want to travel and enjoy the uncontaminated nature? Then you go to Norway.

Personally, I was looking for a destination which allowed me to have fun, to travel, to do the 6 exams of my semester, without having to fill my wallet of 1500 Euro per month and possibly without freezing during the late winter.


How long is the scholarship? How much money do you receive to help you with living costs?

5 months. My scholarship amounted at 550 euro per month.

What is the student lifestyle like in Vienna?

The answer is Wirtschaftsuniversität of Vienna, simply known as WU. It's the biggest University in Europe for Business and Management, at the 33rd place in the European ranking for reliability, concreteness and academic level. It's a public University, open to everyone and counting each semester about 650 incoming students. It has many ad hoc courses for Erasmus students available, I was spoiled for choice and able to accelerate my progression towards the degree. It boasts a great website helping whoever is interested in searching accommodations or courses and allows to enroll in an intensive German course, as well as in an orientation program in the city, called “Ok program”, which is the stepping stone to tie new bonds among Erasmus students. For those who don't have in their store of knowledge the study of economics, there are other important universities in the city, all rigorously public.


Would you recommend the city and the University of Vienna to other students?

Absolutely yes! I've read recently that Vienna is the second city in the world for the quality of living. It's the most secure in Europe and the third one in terms of richness.

What is the food like?

Hot-dog, chocolate cakes and noodles are the best. Try everything, don't be scared to get fat. You'll lose them again after your Erasmus exchange.; )


How did you find your accommodation?

I've checked these websites:

They've been really helpful.

What are the accommodation prices like? What are prices like for other things in general?

Having chosen the faculty, the city was still unknown. How would Vienna turn out to be? I was told it was rather “boring”, “grey” and very cold during the winter. And coming from the South of Sardinia, I can't deny I was really scared. I didn't want to freeze to death.

But let's go on with order, I immediately started to look for an accommodation. In Vienna there is an association called OEAD handling the dormitories in the whole city, which are a lot. With a modest deposit of more than 600 Euro, you can let them search a room for you according to your needs. What you pay is not the result, but their performance. In fact, it is not guaranteed to find a room in the dorm of your dreams, also because the best-recognized ones (like Haus Erasmus) are also the most requested ones.

The prices for a single room are from 340€, a double room is cheaper at around 280€. The majority of these buildings are of new generation, with all the comforts (often even gym and sauna) and the kitchen is either shared for the whole floor or shared among many rooms, like small apartments. There is a really useful website in German that if joined to Google Translator allows you to find a room or a flat. The prices are more reasonable as a single room costs 250-300 Euro.

Is the language easy to get to grips with? Are there language courses available at the University?

I've attended an intensive German course for 45 hours. But it wasn't necessary: in Vienna everybody speaks English, except for postmen and hot-dog sellers.

What's the easiest or most economical way to travel to Vienna from your city?

By flight. I live in Sardinia, it's an island! If you want to use the airplane, please check the Flyniki company website! (Note from a translator: Flyniki activities are terminated as of December 2017. )

Where would you recommend to go on a night out in Vienna?

They say Austrians can be a bit distant. Actually I felt this, but it has never been a problem. I knew I would spend my semester with Erasmus students, but I would have never imagined of being plunged in an European sub-population of crazy Erasmus people. The Erasmus Social Network is particularly developed, especially at WU. They organize trips for any destination (Bratislava, Budapest, Cracow, etc. ) at profitable prices. I also had the opportunity of snowboarding for the first time in Zell Am See, a resort close to the border with Germany, and it was amazing. Imagine 250 Erasmus students in a hotel, skiing during the day and dancing at night. Every day of the week there is an organized event in some pub that has an agreement with ESN. If you fear not to find them, there will be posters hanging at each post. After two months I couldn't stand it anymore, and every day I woke up promising myself to find one day per week to rest and sleep in a decent way. I'd say you never get bored, the amusement is guaranteed. If then you want to do something alternative, there are always the ice-skating parks, the Opera, a walk through the Christmas markets if you catch the right season.


And for eating? Can you recommend some good restaurants in Vienna?

The 3rd September 2010 I set foot on the Austrian land and the smell of food immediately opened my tummy. Do you know the Würstel you usually eat? Well, if you are not German or Austrian... Forget about them. Probably tasting them in Austria or in Germany will make you deny forever those good of your country. Then, if joined with the classical Kartoffeln they are a delicious meal keeping your stomach busy for a few days (but don't worry). After all, in Vienna you never risk of going hungry; the typical restaurants are called Heurigen, scattered everywhere but making you spend something like 10-15€.


The historical center, Stephansplatz, seethes with catering. In the main shopping street, Mariahilferstrasse, the take away's are cheap and therefore much appreciated: sandwiches with sausage, noodles with meat, slices of pizza and so on. 3-5 Euro: you are spoiled for choice. Breakfast is not missing: from Aida's, in the very center – how expensive! - to the more traditional Starbucks or Anker, the baker with pastries and coffee. The cost of living is not excessive, and with a private room 700€ per month are more than enough to live in a basic way. And considering Vienna being a capital, this is not bad, is it?

What good cultural sites are there to visit?

I suggest:

  • The Parlament.
  • Schönbrunn Palace.
  • Stephan's Dorm.
  • Vienna's Tower.
  • House of Music.
  • The city centre.


Five months were sufficient to visit Vienna. It is a relatively small city, concentrated in the areas of the center, where the majesty of the neoclassical architecture peeps out. Passing by Stephansplatz it often happened to me to walk until the Opera, cradle of the Austrian theater. It is a magnificent building which bewitched me, although I'm not fond of lyric opera. The Habsburg Residence is spectacular: it faces a huge green space, from which you can admire museums and the Parliament far away. The Museums quartier is two steps away from there, other epicenter of culture with museums and famous bars. Further away is the Danube Tower, a building situated in the periphery, where I had the opportunity of admiring Vienna from above sitting in a restaurant for dinner, only 250 meter high.


Is there any other advice that you could give to students going to Vienna in the future?

Usually people say that expectations disappoint events. This is because they are irrational and too high if compared to reality. I'd say that my Erasmus experience is an exception to this rule. I arrived in Austria hoping to be well, to have a good time and to keep up with my studying, which – as everyone knows – in Erasmus is almost a duty. I would have never expected to have so much fun, to study so little and to tie so deeply to those who will be lifetime friendships for me.

My Erasmus life was a journey to the moon... Because such a peaceful, light-hearted period is hard to find in the everyday life, when commitments and routine overwhelm you and make your smile a little bit fade. Routine didn't exist, white is the only colour I can associate to my 5 months there, because everyday I put some different overtone on it. I always felt happy of who I was, of where I lived and of what I was doing. It's the luck of not missing your homeland, because you feel at home everywhere you go. With a heavy heart I ended this experience, it was time to go. But Vienna is all this. Do whatever allows you to breathe your Erasmus, Vienna is the perfect place to do it. Could it be enough?

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