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Erasmus life in Vienna as an intern for 4 months (part 2)

If you read the part 1 let's continue then with the last impressions! I am going to discuss the (public) transport in Vienna, the pros and cons.. then the prices and how to survive, some hints. The last will be the weather and conclusion.

12. Transport in Vienna and how to go around

I would tell a bit in general my impressions of the means of transportation in Vienna, about the organization and about the public transport. There are some pros and cons but mostly pros.

First of all, Vienna is the city where you do not need a car. I heard many citizens actually leave them at the area and use it for the trips outside the city. It is very expensive to have the cars and pay for the parking lot (unless you have a garage). Of course, you will see them in the streets but in general the majority of the citizens uses primarily the available means of public transport.

And public transport in Vienna is of the my favorit things actually. Actually, many friends told me they would go to Vienna just to enjoy it. So what is it all about?

Speaking in general there is a large very well organized network system called Wiener Linien (Viennese Lines). It consists of many tram and bus lines, of the metro (die Ubahn) and the train within the city. In Zagreb and Croatia we do not have the subway so this was something I was looking forward to! Apart from this kind of transportation there are the CityBikes which I had been also using frequently.

I already wrote one article on the Public Transport here so you can have a look. But just to write you here a few impressions.

The metro is probably the main part of the transport and without it the life in the city would be much slower and crowded in the streets. Sometimes to reach some locations you just need to combine a bit the metro and walking. Also if you are lost in the city once you notice the "U" sign you are safe! Although it mostly goes in the underground there are a few parts of lines U1, U2 and U6 where it actually goes above it and you have a nice view towards the buildings and streets of Vienna. For instance, the line U6 between Floridsdorf and Längenfeldgasse goes almost all the time above the streets and belongs to one of the oldest lines (at least the route) so it is a real pleasure to use it.

The U1 goes above the Danube island to the other side, the eastern coast of the Danube. And lastly the number U2 goes from Praterstern also above the ground and I have been so far only to Stadion, not further. I forgot to menion U4 line which also goes through the canal from Karlsplatz till Schönbrunn and you can also more or less enjoy the view from it towards the buildings surrounding you.

There are five lines in total.

The number U5 is actually missing and its construction was postponed, as I found out. Regarding the last stops I have been to Ottakring, Karlsplatz for numeours times, Reumannplatz and Floridsdorf.


The buses. I used them every day to get to my studio and back home. More than subway. Buses were my number one mean of transportation. There are many lines and they go through different streets from point A to B and B to A becuase many streets are too narrow for two vehicles from opposite directions. The ride in the bus is fun. There are places (in the trams too) with seats and space reserved for the elderly, pregnant women and families with baby-carrier. I often had to move from there.

The trams are also pretty useful. There are a few types of them. The modern ones or the newest editions that are right at the ground floor and ideal for the family carriers or for invalides. The other two are a bit older versions but I personally prefer them more since they have more space to sit and maybe remind me more of our warm older trams in Zagreb (yes, we have the modern ones too).

In contrast to Zagreb both trams and buses go through many streets like a snake and have different stops in the opposite direction. This caused me a problem because I was used to two stops for opposite directions to be pretty close to each other, visible and in the same street here in Zagreb. But there it can be in the next street behind the building so pay attention to it. All the lines are more or less pretty regular and there is a loud speaker at every stop to announce the potential problems or changes in the network (for example, my bus 13A was pretty problematic though I could not feel it much... so the speaker would say "Linie 13A fährt nur unregelmässig.. "). Since Vienna has got lots of hills the buses go up and down the streets, can be pretty fun. The trams of course are more or less on more horizontal ground.

I might mention the taxi service. I used them twice and had two different experiences. First one and a kind of a bad experience with a nervous driver (that's why I avoid using taxis) was when going from our Florianigasse to one club maybe 5 minutes or less away. He was not really patient with waiting to be paid and shouted he had to go somewhere else and the others were behind us (everyone was behind someone actually). Well, ___ (rude word), just go, who cares about you. The other time we took taxi was from Florianigasse to Stadion Center Bus terminal. It is the route of about 7-8 kilometers. The taxi driver came to pick us up in time, it was some older guy and he was also very nice, talkative and it was a pleasure to drive with him. I was sitting to his right so we talked all the time and he was happy to share his memories when visiting Croatia and football match in Zagreb a few decades ago. It was funny that he though had no idea there was this Stadion Bus Terminal so I had to tell him directions until he got it where it was.

Now a bit of the transportation on your own.

Scooters are pretty popular vehicle in Vienna. I was surprised a lot when I came and noticed that many people were using them on the pedestrian walk. It was pretty funny and still is to see the grandmothers with shopping bags, students, the lawyers and other seniors to use this like children. You might ask yourself why are they so popular? The thing is - scooters are in the same category as a pedestrian. So unlike bikes and other vehicles that cannot go on the pedestrian road, having a scooter is as same as walking (according to the Austrian law). Thus it makes it more flexible to go around. Unfortunately had no opportunity to go on one around.

The last thing I had been using there is the CityBike. I think I have been on those bikes about 10-14 times in total but still had a great time. There are a few things you want to know about them:

  1. There are more than one hundred bike stations around Vienna and if you are going around the districts around the center you will find a new station every few minutes.
  2. The first hour of use is free.

    If you don't want to pay a euro or more for every next hour, leave it at any random station before your free hour expires and wait 15 minutes until it is reactivated again. I used to walk to another city bike station, wait then take the new bike and enjoy the free ride again. Two or three times I decided to pay an extra euro as the weather was nice, I had more time and wanted to explore more without stopping and getting off my way.

  3. You pay 1 Euro at the beginning to register you bike and they might take 20 Euros as a deposit but it is returned to your bank account within 2-3 weeks.
  4. You can find

In general Vienna is pretty much bike-friendly city. You have the bike routes almost everywhere and they are specially creaetd for the bikes, not just using the color on the floor dividing the pedestrian path in two. You can track the bike path being colored on the main road alongside the motor vehicles and I also tried in some district to ride on the road and felt very much safe. I would likely never od it in Zagreb fearing of becoming a pancake within seconds. So for the cyclists I would say it is pretty safe to drive in Vienna and you do not have to use the car road since the bike have their own. There are many parks to go with you bike such as Prater or alongside the Danube... I just went around spontaneously and loved when I got lost (later not that much).

In conclusion, the public transport in Vienna is excellent. You have the options to buy a single ticket, daily, 48 or 72 hours ticket, weekly ticket, 7 days ticket, monthly ticket, semester ticket and a yearly ticket. But the amount you pay for the ticket did not make me sad like in Zagreb because you get what you deserve. I never felt bad buying a ticket as you get everywhere pretty fast in Vienna by using the public transport. If you are not dependent of the other people you could use only the citybike but in general it is the best to have a ticket with you. You never know when you have to go somewhere quickly. And using the metro, buses or trams without the ticket can be a pretty expensive and uncomfortable experience. I had seen and was checked three times in tram, bus and subway and luckily had my ticket with me. Otherwise I would have to pay more than 110 Euros. I had not seen anyone trying to get out without the ticket.

13. Prices and costs of living in Vienna a. k. a. how to survive if you are from Croatia

I could now write you a novel on this topic. Austria belongs to the 3rd category of the most expensive countries in Europe to do the Erasmus and thus the amount of monthly stipend for the students (from Croatia at least) was max. 560 per month. Before choosing Vienna as my destination and a place to live for the 4 months we had been calculating at home of course how much money would I need each month.

a) Looking for the room and problems that followed

The first thing was finding some accommodation that was not going to eat all the stipend. I was aiming for a room in the shared apartment (or WG in German) and my max budget was around 300 Euros per month. I would be left with 260 Euros left. But there was also the deposit which are in Vienna pretty. In Croatia you will pay for one month ahead more or less or just simply give the money at the beginning of the new month as a guarantee. Maybe people trust more here. Contracts are also possible. But in Vienna it is very difficult to find anything that does not have the deposit below 350 Euros. Actually, the average prices can range from 350-1000 Euros. Of course, for me it was impossible to just simply give 700 Euros at once. So it took me a while to find one room that was not going to make me and my family go bankrupt. So be prepared for the high deposits! I was lucky in the end to find firstly room for 300 Euros that included the bills, internet etc. However, after 3 weeks had to leave, was half-homeless but again lucky to find something in the 8th District (Florianigasse) near the center for 330 Euros with my own room, the apartment was more than 100m2 and it included bills and everyting. My flatmate and the owner of the apartment was more than fair for everything and I really enjoyed my stay there.

Student dorms are another thing but since I avoided them (and also was unable to find something free for the affordable price) I cannot tell you more from my personal experience.

In my case, since I had some side jobs and also had to work from home a bit it was important having my own room, to have a bed and a desk... and ideally that the price includes the electricity bills, water, the washing machine and the internet. Kitchen was also sort of important and I was lucky to have the best in both of my apartments for a very affordable price and excellent flatmates.

b) Now when you had found your apartment, how much money did you have left?

Firstly, I tried not to be dependent much of the money from my parents. I had been doing my Skype lessons on weekends which would help me additionally with 30-40 Euros monthly (but not always). So, I tried to survive the month with the stipend and my own incomes aside only. I will try to write you now the list of how the money was decreasing and being used for different things each month. One more thing to be noted - I did not receive any money from my studio I was going to work at. I was a volunteer there. So it was a bit more difficult to survive the month.


    Start the month with 560 Euros (statistically). Still the last 560 Euros will come after the internship is done (but that will probably takes ages as always)


    I paid 330 Euros for the apartment at the beginning of each month + gave 330 Euros as a deposit.

    (I did not have to pay for the last month but got the difference (about 120 Euros) since I stayed 18 days in February. )


    With 230 Euros left I had to pay about 48 Euros for the public transport - monthly tickets.

    Since I was not studying there at the Uni Wien I could not get the student semester ticket for 150 Euros. But even then I might have to spend some money for 2 weeks in February. The other solution was 365 days ticket and I would have to pay fro about 120 days or 120 Euros. But there were some other tricks so I decided to use the monthly tickets. In the end I spent about 140-160 Euros for 4 months on the public transport. You cannot be in Vienna without the public transport. In general.

    I also spent maybe 3-4 Euros when using the citybike (registration plus riding more then the first free hour)


    Now I have about 180 Euros left for food, fun and the mobile phone. I was using Hofer's HoT network and took the package of 3 GB and 1000 minutes/sms for 9. 90 Euros per month. Let's say it's 10 Euros.

  5. Source

  6. That makes it in the end about 170 Euros left for the food and fun.
  7. FOOD

    There are few things regarding the food you need to know. Eating lunch in the student restaurants (5-6 Euros) was just too much for me. In Croatia we pay about 1 Euro for the normal lunch menu and you are satisfied. For 2 Euros... you get double. But in Austria it does not work that way. An average price for the menu from some other restaurant is again between 5-8 Euros. There was NO WAY I could afford myself such luxury.

    In the beginning I thought I could afford myself lunch for 5-7 Euros once per week. But in the end it became too much as I was pretty short with money.

    In 95% of the cases I was going to the market place to buy the eggs, bananas, bread and some youghurts (Turkish), potatoes and other vegetables as it was much cheaper than in any shop. And I went more or less to Hofer and bought there the basics - milk for 0, 69-0, 75 Euros per liter, winter sausage and cheese, sometimes yoghurts, pasta, beans or lense, fish fillets, frozen green bean, potatoes, apples, oil, some spice, soups, a few times a can with ready-to-eat lunch, the mayonnaise, ketchup and the rice. I had been mixing these ingredients more or less throughout the past 4 monhts. I have to mention that I was also lucky to get 2-3 times a food aid package from Zagreb by my friends and family who visited me so I saved some money.

    Generally I would spend each week 2-4 Euros at the market place and about 8-15 Euros in the shop. A few times I spend 20-35 Euros to buy the ingredients that last for weeks or months (oil, the poweder for the washing machine etc)... but in the last 2 months I tried to spend about 20 Euros on the food. With a few Euros you can cook same or different dishes for a few days. And just one lunch costs 5-8 Euros if you buy it outside.

    I used to cook (lunch) every day. During the working days I would get up at 7. 30 and start preparing my breakfast and lunch that I would bring later to my studio. I had to eat around 12-13h latest as the food would start getting cold fast. I ate an apple or two and a banana practically every day. Sometimes would also bring a chocolate to my studio to keep me not-hungry until getting home. During the difficult times when I had not much money I ate rice for 3 days in row and then pasta with Uncle Ben's sauce. In the last month and a half I ate almost every day something different and since one of my flatmate was not at home last 2 weeks of my stay there I had much more freedom and time to experiment in the kitchen with the online recipes. Thus my dinner was more diverse and delicious and the last week or two I was able to spend 2-4 hours daily in the kitchen, even making cookies (my first Lembas from the Lord of the Rings! ). I will write you a few of those recipes here.

    Oh, in the second apartment where I had spent 3 and something months I was not sharing the food with the others. Everyone cooked for him/herself or went out. That also made it a bit more difficult for me in the beginning as I was just calculating how much I have to save but still not eat low quality food.

    Lastly, there is this Pakistani restaurant where I used to go later once per week. on Saturday, (might have been there 7 times in total) where I would eat lunch for 3. 5-5 Euros (a plate and a half or two). The restaurant's name is Der Wiener Deewan, it is close to the Uni Wien and you eat and pay as much as you want.


    I would add here everything else that does not include food.

    For example, the hairdresser for men (cutting the hair only! ) can cost you from 15-20 Euros. The cheapest one in the 8th District and in the area for men was about 12 Euros. And I am scared to think of how much the girls and women would have to pay. The same service for men costs about 5-7 Euros in Croatia. I never went to a hairdresser in Vienna but rather waited until my trip to Budapest and went there for 6 Euros (she washed my hair too) so I was happy.

    I spent a bit more money than usually during the Advent in Vienna period when I had to go to drink a few times the cooked wine or something. It was colder and if you were with the others I could not just stand there. It costs between 2. 5-3. 5 Euros and I cried inside. Especially after eating nice hot dog for 3 or 3. 5 Euros. Coffee is also about 2 Euros at least in the bars or at a cafe. When I came back home for less than a week during the Christmas holidays it made me cry and laugh at the same time when I saw our prices (for me normal) for the wine, tea and coffe which is about 1 to 2 euros maximum. Hot god in Zagreb can be found during the Advent for about 1. 5 Euros. Everything is relative. Luckily, the Advent was done and after the New Year no more additional expenses. Drinking a tea or a hot chocolate (I did not do this a lot) also costs about 4-6 Euros. Crazy!

    In the second half of November I discovered the German language cafe in Brau Bar which was pretty close to me (about 10 minutes walking) so I would order a huge bier for about 2. 7 Euros (that was the price during the happy hour or some special offer). In Zagreb at Zlatni medo you can get approximately the same amount for 1. 3-1. 5 Euros.

    You can also try collecting the coupons for the fast food such as McDonalds, Burger King, Subway etc. I know it is not the best but might help you. I used the coupons only once when going with a friend to Burger King. Again, sometimes the prices with the discount are like normal ones here in Croatia or still a bit more expensive.

    I went ones to ice skating with friends and we had gone there to use the last 2 hours when it was the most affordable. We had to pay for the entrance and their shoes about 5-7 Euros per persons. I cannot remember now but you can find the price list and conditions online.

    I visited a few events organized by ESN Uni Wien such as going to the Nachbar to meet the other Erasmus students and talk. There I would spend again 2-3 Euros for a huge beer.

    Talking about museums the average cost for the students (and those under 27) is about 5-8 Euros for the majority of the places. I paid 5 Euros to get to the Natural History Museum, Musem of Modern art and around 7 for the Belvedere Winter Palace.

    Another expensive hobby I had was the analog photography. I brought my analog camera to Vienna as I heard it was much cheaper there. And it was. You can buy the film rolls in every DM or Müller shop (or at the photo studios). I bought three negative films of 200 ASA for 12 Euros in DM. I had several options for the development and since I had valuable photographs I decided to go to one of the best studios in Vienna and paid 11 Euros for the development (like in Croatia... but we have only one studio for the development... ). There were some cheaper ones but with not that good quality. For my last film I am going for the cheaper solution but the portraits of the persons had to be in the top quality. So I spent already 34 Euros just for the 3 rolls. I also printed more about 120 photographs in Müller, the size 10 and 11 on the standard paper. It costed me about 20 Euros. So I spent about 50-54 Euros for the photography. But I am very much satisfied with what I got and I have to say my last film was the best ever, everything good or perfectly exposed and over 90% of everything looks good.

    I wanted to go to Bratislava, Budapest or Poland. In the end, after getting the payment for what I had done for one American company I decided to reward myself with a short trip to Budapest. There I had friends who told me I could sleep there in their apartment. Thus I saved money for the bus, food and other things. It costed me abotu 17 Euros by bus to Budapest and back (about 3 hours and something in each direction, including the stop at Viennese Airport and Bratislava). I staye there 2 and half days, from Friday till Saturday. It was the first time to go to eat "out" (not counting some orders from my studio for lunch) 2-3 times since I left Croatia. Because it was much cheaper, similar to prices in Zagreb or even cheaper. I also had my hair cut there for 6 Euros. I might have spent 50-60 Euros in total including buying the presents for myself and family. With the money I had I also rewarded myself with buying the ticket for the concert of Hans ZImmer in May in Vienna. The cheapest ticket of course... for 50 Euros.

  8. The ATM (Bankomat) also "ate" lots of Euros. Every time I went there to withdraw 50 Euros it would take about 3-5 Euros for itself. So in total they must have stolen from me 30-45 Euros in total...

All in all you can survive with the stipend only (560 Euros) if you carefully plan and manage your finance. But forget about the restaurants then. An aid from your family or other jobs (or if you get paid at your workplace would be great) will also be needed. It all depends on what your priorities are and what do you want/need.

Another thing that bothered me there a lot is that the student jobs are paid almost as double as here. I found out that the private lessons for piano cost 20-30 Euros per hour or 90 minutes. Or for foreign languages it's 15-25 Euros per 60 or 90 minutes. In Croatia an average is 7-8 Euros per hour or 10 for 90 minutes.

Difference between Croatian and Austiran standard

I never mentioned the difference in the standard of living between Croats and Austrians. According to the fresh statistics in Croatia an average salary is apparently around 750 Euros monthly. And in Austria that number is more than 3x higher. In Austria an average salary is around 2 500 Euros. Now you understand better how I felt. haha Of course, everything is much more expensive because the standard is obviously much better. But the food in Austria is not that expensive (in general) than it is here in Croatia. And after all the statistics happen to be truth. Hot dog costs practically 3x more in Vienna than in Zagreb.

But I also learned there that I should not ask the Austrians for help in general when searching for something cheap or affordable below the (their) standards. Simply because they are not used to surviving like we are and they don't have the same definition of 'cheap and affordable' as I had. Read further!

"Cheap" and "affordable" are relative terms. Hang out with those who define it in the same way as you do!

And this reminds me of my philosphy there I was spreading around among other students and my colleagues. If you come from a country similar to mine, such as Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Eastern Europe... all of us who are in the crisis... then we should hang out together, not with the Northern or some Western Europeans who in one month earn more than 4 of us from the south. Why? Becuase when I say "Let's go somewhere where it is cheap. " the Mediterraneans or the SE Europeans will udnerstand the word "cheap" or "affordable" in the very same context as I do. "Cheap" for one Scandinavian is probably "d_mn expensive" for a Croat or someone from the Mediterranean. I totally understood the Portuguese colleague who came to replace me as he was in a similar situation as I was (and it was fo funny I could not stop laughing). I also met two friends from Greece who totally agreed with this. I remember my friends from Zagreb coming to visit me and were also shocked with some prices, especially with the entrance for the clubs. They said "Ah, well, YOLO, let's go! " but I was like "Hey, I've been having YOLO since the first day I came here. "

Luckily for me, one of the foreign friends from the US I was hanging out with was in similar situation so we perfectly understood each other and used the coupons (affordable and good) and went to the pakistani restaurant. Nothing to be ashamed of, just being realistic. Since I was not paid for my work in the studio I was not able to afford myself more. I can at least understand now diaspora perfectly who got a job abroad and do not wish to come back to Croatia and face the survival till extinction.

During my last 2 and half months there I tried to get some job such as private lessons for English, Croatian, piano or pet sitting to earn some extra money which would enable me to enjoy maybe a few more trips around, go to amazing Eistraum Ice-skating park, allow myself a luxury of more orders from the restaurants at the studio, go to more museums and cool places.... but I was not that lucky.

14. Weather in Winter Semester

Although it was winter it was not that cold in Vienna as the legends were saying or as much as I expected. There were 2-4 weeks in total when the temperatures were above 10'C and several days when you could work in the t-shirt only, up to 18'C. For 2 months the weather was between 5-10'C outside and one would have needed a t-shirt, a pullover and a jacket.

The problem in Vienna is the wind. Especially when it starts blowing and if it is cold outside then you will feel like a snowman, frozen. The weather suddenly changed at the beginning of December and was cold until February. I remember I had to use the gloves for the first time around 7th December when I was taking photos or on the bike. As well as the scarf. And a protection for the ears since mine turned red immediately (and my hands... had to hide them in the metro as I lookd weird).

There were several days when it was really cold, especially around the New Year. I was forced to use my warm winter jacket 2-3 times outside. Otherwise I would simply put a t-shirt, shirt, one more warmer and the jacket along with the scarf and the cap on myself. The headphones that cover your ears are as well of big help as they make you warmer and protect your ears. Sometime the weather was pretty warm for a jacket and a long sleeves shirt only... and then changed close to 0'C quickly. I also used to wear in the cold days (when the temperature was below 4-5'C) the additional trousers-pyamas below the jeans.

The weather was more or less grayish, clouded... but there were also 20-25 days of sun. Rain was not that much boring actually but it might had been raining 10-15 times in total. Speaking of snow it is very rare in Vienna. The first snow I saw was in the mid December, you could see the snowflakes falling, you could see that the streets turned white a bit but the next morning it was all normal again. I was lucky to see the "true snow" in the 3rd week of January when it was snowing for 2-3 days... and especially on the weekend when I was with a friend out it was snowing heavily and the whole city was covered with it. I had the opportunity to go to the other side of Danube and see how everything looked amazing in white. That was the last snow too.

I used the winter shoes (or hiking shoes) maybe 3-4 times in total, when it was snowing and the streets were covered in snow or mud. For the rest you do not need something special, just the regular shoes.

So, bring some warm clothes (scarf, cap, gloves and if you are feeling really cold in winter - the winter jacket), umbrella, hiking shoes just in case and if you like to use the bike you might need the raincoat. The city bikes have the protection from the water or mud on the wheels so you should not worry about it.


Despite all the pros and cons I would still choose Vienna to be my Erasmus destination and home during the exchange.

Vienna indeed is a marvelous city and I guess totally deserves all the titles and rewards it keeps getting last years. It it not too big and not too small. It might be a bit more boring in winter than in summer because everything important in winter is in the center but there are sooo many events happening every week that my wallet and life and free time are just not enough. Everyone can find him/herself in some of the activities, meet tons of interesting people (and if you are an international make sure to visit lots of international meetings). I found lots of good friends in the activities I found at the websites couchsurfing and meetup that made my stay there more enjoyable. Vienna is also situated in Central Europe which makes it easy to reach other popular destinations in the area for very affordable prices.

What I liked too is that this city is pretty international and open. I believe it was obvious that this was going to happen even a hundred years ago as it was the center of multiethnic and multicultural empire. All of that can be seen out there.

Vienna offers you tons of museums and historic places to visit. It has lots of parks and areas for the sports and recreation. It has an excellent public transport. If you are an outgoing person I guess there is no week that is going to be boring for you. Regardless of being in the same group as I am (those with not much money) or those who have lots of money (meh... ) you will find people and places to spend your time there.

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If you know Vienna as native, traveler or as exchange student... share your opinion on Vienna! Rate different characteristics and share your experience.

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