... Vienna, Austria
WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business), Vienna, Austria
Louise Kwok is an incoming student from Hong Kong and shares her unique experiences with us. Besides the lockdown and moments of self-reflection, she talks about new friendships.
Eins, zwei, drei, vier, fünf. It was just five actual school days before everything was changed. I had much expectation and excitement towards my exchange semester at WU. I thought about meeting students from all over the world, becoming friends with them and having fun together. I thought about visiting different museums in Vienna and experiencing the most liveable city in the world. I still remember the day when I receive a message from my EBN buddy - “Streaming statt Hörsaal: Unis bleiben bis Ostern geschlossen” (Streaming instead of lecture hall: universities remain close until Easter). The news was so sudden that I had no idea how the pandemic would evolve. At that night, I had my last face-to-face lecture at the WU campus. I thought it would not be the last one.
In the next few days, the exchange students from America all evacuated. Every day, I saw somebody leaving the dormitory, and they never returned. I started to think whether or not I should go back home too. It was indeed, a dilemma. On the one hand, I was facing a lot of uncertainties here. Rumours were saying that Austria could follow the trend in other European countries and suffer from a severe outbreak of COVID-19. On the other hand, I could as well be exposed to more risks if I chose to take the flight. To go, or not to go? It was one of the toughest decision I have confronted so far.
"At last, I decided to stay in Vienna and to continue the rest of the semester here. I did not want to end my exchange semester in this way. Despite the restrictions, I still wanted to have a taste of an authentic Viennese life."
As time went by, I realised that things were not as negative as I expected. Even during the terrifying period, I managed to spend time with my flatmate and some other friends who were also living in the dormitory. We met up and had dinner together. Sometimes, we also went out for a walk. Out of my surprise, the Viennese never locked themselves in their room. They embraced the challenges while trying to maintain a normal routine and social distancing. Of course, it was not easy for me to handle the situation. At some point, I did feel lonely and discouraged. Since the university was shut down a few days after the semester began, I did not have the chance to get to know many people here. Luckily, I was able to make new friends from the people that I knew before. Later on, we hung out and had so much fun exploring Vienna and the surroundings together.
I reflected on my life and had a clearer picture of my future. I made up the mind to pursue further studies in Austria (hopefully at WU!) as I saw how responsive and optimistic the Austrians have been towards the corona crisis. It was not exactly what I had expected. I pictured a joyful exchange life, yet I experienced what is true to be life – we never know what would happen next. And there might not be a second chance.
I am glad that I stayed and witnessed many re-openings. I am ready to make the most from the remaining weeks and visit more places in Austria.
Content by Louise Kwok. 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