Michael - University of Vienna

B Economics/Commerce
Semester 1, 2019
I have made friendships from so many different nationalities that will last a lifetime and lived a life that will completely change the way I move forward with my career.

Academic experience

When I enrolled to courses at The University of Vienna, I intentionally chose courses that may demonstrate the world-famous Austrian school of economic thought, as well as courses that required alternate types of assessment than what is typical to The University of Queensland. A great example of this was in a course I took on intermediate public economics, where we were required to read a journal article on a chosen topic and present in groups of 3 for approximately 20 minutes for each member (depending on what sections were covered by the member). Not only did this encourage abstract ways of thinking, it also endowed me with confidence in demonstrating my knowledge of relevant topics to a group of people, thus developing my confidence. Other courses taught me how to use software packages such as STATA and made me question the reasons behind the content in which I have already learned for 3 years. It should be noted however that some courses relied way too heavily on peer to peer learning, which was reflected in a high fail rate. The registration process was slightly strange, however the exchange staff at the university will be there to help before during and after your exchange.

Personal experience

The main thing I got out of studying and living in Vienna was the relationships I made with the people and culture. Prior to this exchange, I had never done anything like this – to be in a completely different city, surrounded by an alien culture and learning at a university with only one friend who was in the same boat as I was extremely confronting. Now, after only 5 months, I have made friendships from so many different nationalities that will last a lifetime and lived a life that will completely change the way I move forward with my career.


In terms of accommodation, you’re pretty much set living anywhere due to the exemplary public transport system present. With a combination of the U-Bahn and Strassebahn, your always within 30 minutes of anything important for day to day life. I would definitely recommend staying in a dormitory owned by Stuwo, specifically the one located in the 2nd district on Vorgartenstraße (titled Stuwo 1020 on their page). Most of the friends I made were from the accommodation, and although the rooms are slightly small and the kitchen is shared, it feels like a great community.


In terms of accommodation, it cost me 426 euros per month, as well as a 700 euro deposit (which is being returned to me at the moment). In terms of food costs, I was lucky enough to live across from a Höfer (the Austrian Aldi) so I managed to buy food for 30 euros a week maximum. What will cost you is personal travel. Luckily, the places near Vienna are famous for being cheap and fun, such as Budapest and Prague, and even Amsterdam was cheap enough (although I had to stay on a bus for 17 hours). Just make sure you stay on a strict enough budget that you have money for everything. Plan it out before you leave, and adapt it to what you need while you’re over there. Public Transport is cheap as well, with a one-time payment of 75 euros for a pass that got you access to any public transport in the Vienna area.


The biggest challenge I was faced with the cultural and language barrier when it came to interacting with people and making new friends. It can be difficult not to keep to yourself as you’re so far away from home, but honestly there are so many programs in place by the Erasmus Student Network that will keep you out there meeting people you’ll never forget, and you’ll start to adapt really quickly. The next personal challenge I had was ironically coming home, which I am still coping with myself.

Professional Development

The one thing I was worried about when considering whether or not to participate in an exchange was that I would miss out on vacation and internships that would help with my career. Although sort of true, I still think I have benefitted when it comes to having a global experience, as it is something that employers look for. After seeing how different countries work, and even being educated under a different system, I have received an ulterior education experience, and doing so with colleagues that usually didn’t speak English natively has also developed my problem-solving skills.


The highlight for me was when I was sitting along the Donaukanal drinking beer with a group of friends I had made. It was about midnight, and we were sitting there, as a lot of people were, listening to music. The energy was amazing, something that I’m sad to say will never be matched in Brisbane, as thousands of people were dancing and drinking around the water, playing games like flunky ball (search it up now, you’ll have to show your Australian competitive spirit at the ESN beer Olympics), and I realised that this place has something for everyone.

Top tips

Make sure that you enrol in the German Intensive course before the semester starts, and make sure you go to every lesson. People in Vienna are very accommodating to people who speak English, but they will absolutely adore you if you at least try to speak their language, and you’ll definitely get more local recommendations in terms of where to go and what to do. As well as this, most people who do the course with you are in the same boat as you, being completely new to the country. This is where I made a lot of my good friends, and I’m sure you’ll find it to be the same. One other thing I regret is not seeing more of Austria, such as seeing Innsbruck and Salzburg. After becoming close to someone from a small town called Braunau in Upper Austria who came to Vienna, I have realised that some of the most beautiful people and places are outside the capital.