... in Vienna, Austria
WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business), Vienna, Austria
Why did you decide to stay in Vienna and not return to your home country?
I was hoping to have an amazing semester in Vienna, as I am sure everyone who has ever decided to go on an exchange semester did. My idea was that I would meet a lot of new people from all over the world, hopefully make new friends, travel around with them, and have fun. I was also hoping to experience a different approach to studying and to gain experiences academically as well. But I never imagined such a turn of events just after five weeks in Vienna. I found all the lectures I took the first week in March very interesting and was excited for the semester. I was already here for over a month at the time WU closed because I came for the pre-semester German language course. So, luckily, I already had friends here in Vienna and that played a huge role when I tried to decide whether to stay or not. A lot of those friends decided to go home right away while it was still possible. Just like everyone else, I felt panicked, and when the Czech Republic announced they would close the border, I considered going home. However, I worked hard to be able to come here and even though it was already clear this would not be the semester I had imagined it would be, I decided it could still be a very positive and enriching experience. I thought to myself, “I’m not gonna let anyone or anything take this away from me”. And I did feel safe in Austria in general. WU sent a lot of information and e-mails ensuring us that no matter what happens we will be able to finish the semester here, which made everyone calmer.
How do you keep in touch with friends/acquaintances here in Vienna?
I live in a dormitory so that made keeping in touch with other exchange students easier and, of course, thanks to social media, it is not difficult to talk to people. That helped in the sense that I did not lose contact with friends and family from home.
What new experiences did you make due to the current situation, and what are you taking away from it?
I am happy I stayed. In a sense, these past few weeks were more beneficial than I could ever have imagined. I did get to experience a different university style after all, the lectures and project were still very interesting, and I made friends who, at this point, are more like family. It was a difficult time for me, as I’m sure it has been a difficult time for everyone, but I do believe that experiences like these make people grow and allow them to learn a lot about themselves. I found out how much I can handle on my own and I learned to accept that sometimes things work out differently than we hope, but that does not mean we cannot enjoy them. I also learned to let go of the things that are not in my power to change.
What are you looking forward to experiencing in Vienna/in Austria after the restrictions are loosened?
Now that restrictions are loosening, there is a lot of stuff to do and to see. May, for me, was kind of a normal month full of fun activities with friends and, hopefully, June will be as well. I hope to travel a bit more around Austria. But, for now, just walking around the city, going for a hike, visiting the zoo and parks, and going to all the famous cafés without tourists is pretty great on its own.
What positive experiences will you look back on?
It might sound unbelievable but I really do think I will look back at these few months with gratitude. I did learn a lot in classes. I made friends. I had fun. I got to compare mentalities, approaches, and perspectives in these difficult times. In the end, I believe there is no better place to be during a pandemic than Vienna.
Content by Kateřina Sabelová. Thank you very much!
WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business)
Location: Vienna, Austria
Population of Vienna: ca. 1.897.491
Number of students: ca. 22.016
Accreditations: AACSB, AMBA, EQUIS
Exchange level: Bachelor, Master, Doctorate