Ansam - University of Vienna

Bachelor of Arts/Laws
Semester 1, 2018
My exchange gave me the valuable chance to learn about the law from a European perspective and make some wonderful friends along the way.

Academic experience

I studied mostly law courses for my LLB, although I took two philosophy courses to complete my BA minor. I loved the courses I studied in Vienna because they were so novel. I took courses about recent developments in Space Law, International Nuclear Law, Comparative Constitutional Studies, and another about commercial Mediation and Arbitration, which were all very insightful. I was lucky enough to take courses which involved visits to the UN and IAEA and attend seminars on International Criminal Justice, with distinguished academics involved in drafting the ICC Statute and other experts in the field. Meeting other students from across Europe, including Austria, Belgium, Italy, France, and Ireland really made me see the differences in how we all see the law and appreciate the distinctions between common and civil law jurisdictions. 

The enrolment process at the University of Vienna was completely different to that of UQ. For every course offered at UWien, there was a different date to enrol and another to drop each course. Moreover, physical attendance at the first session is required in order to successfully enrol, which made navigating timetabling clashes in the first few weeks rather difficult. This, in turn, effected what courses I could enrol in and I had to seek retrospective approval for a few courses not in my initial study plan. This was stressful for me, given the serious ramifications for my expected graduation date if they were not approved.

Personal experience

I was fortunate to make many friends from literally all over the world so that now I have a couch to crash on or a number to call when I visit their countries one day. When you’re living in a foreign country, your friends really do become your family. 

I was able to squeeze in travel before, during, and after my exchange program to a total of eleven countries including Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and the Middle East. Vienna is so centrally located that weekend trips were easy and affordable so I would definitely recommend taking advantage of that.

Accommodation

My accommodation was by far the most stressful aspect of my exchange. I was unlucky and had to move a total of four times, with six weeks being the longest time I spent in any single place. This made settling in difficult for me as I was unable to really develop a regular routine. Each place was in a different district, requiring different transport routes and a change in local supermarkets. My advice would be to research your accommodation thoroughly before you go and try to have a back up plan if your intended accommodation doesn’t work out. This will save you a lot of stress if anything goes wrong.

Costs

I would aim to have at least $10,000 AUD if you intend to do a lot of travelling during your exchange. I would recommend living in a shared private apartment but keep in mind that you probably shouldn't be paying anything more than 550 Euro per month (student accommodation aside). 

If you plan to travel outside of Austria, transport and accommodation adds up rather quickly. Hostels and transport via buses like FlixBus, really help bring your costs down. Don’t forget about additional expenses like travel insurance for your time outside of Vienna, which are not covered by the UQ Insurance Policy.

Professional Development

Living in a foreign country taught me how to adapt quickly to a change in circumstances and to handle difficult situations on my own. I trust in myself more now and I have definitely come back to Australia more confident and relaxed.

Highlight

Attending a Viennese Ball at the Rathaus with my exchange friends who, by that stage, were my family.

Top tips

Exchange is a very valuable experience and an incredible opportunity. If you can go, go. But be prepared for things to go wrong because at some point, they will. Being in a foreign country when this happens, especially when you don’t speak the language, is challenging. Having said that, it was still a great learning experience for me. I learned a lot about myself and made incredible friends along the way.