With so many partnerships available, why not consider one of the universities that we are partnered with in the supposed “most livable” city in the world? TJ Deol went abroad for a semester recently to the University of Applied Sciences BFI Wien. The city and experiences were unforgettable:
Studying in Vienna was a life changing experience. Every day was a new adventure that was completely different from my life at home. I remember the first time I decided to study abroad, the thought of living in a different country far from home was terrifying. But settling into Vienna was no problem. As each day passed, Vienna felt more and more like home. It never ceases to amaze me how fast time passes; it’s hard to believe how quickly my semester passed by!
So why did I choose Vienna? One of the main reasons is because Vienna has been ranked as the “most livable city” in the world, several times. After a few months of living in Vienna, I had fallen in love with the city. The city has so much to offer: from cozy cafes, restaurants, architecture, museums, and palaces to music and breathtaking views, the list goes on. What made Vienna feel the most like home for me was the Danube River and handful of parks, as well as running and biking trails spread across the city – these gave it a close resemblance to my hometown, Vancouver.
Being in a central location in Europe, Vienna was the perfect place to explore the rest of Europe. My first trip was with ESN and my fellow students to Bratislava, a beautiful city situated close to Vienna. I also had the opportunity to travel to Greece (Athens), Hungary (Budapest), Czech Republic (Prague and Brno), Germany (Berlin and Munich), Spain (Barcelona), Belgium (Brussels), the Netherlands (Amsterdam), Italy (Rome), and Austria (Salzburg, Hallstatt, and Graz).
While studying in Vienna, I traveled to Athens for a few days; it was a nice escape to the warm weather in Greece, just as the weather was becoming cooler in Vienna. Athens is a densely packed tour of ancient sites, museums, art, architecture, philosophy, and last but not least, the Acropolis, one of the most ancient monuments in the world. The one thing I learned in Greece was you are never hungry, even if you want to be. Food in Greece is amazing, and if you don’t like feta cheese… you will after you visit Greece!
My next trip was to Budapest, the capital of Hungary, situated very close to Vienna. It only took me about 20 minutes by train to reach Budapest. Before going to Budapest it’s important to know the difference between Buda and Pest (pronounced “Pesht”). Budapest is split in two by the Danube River: Buda is on the west side, and Pest is on the east side (I didn’t know this until I went to Budapest, and people would give me weird looks for pronouncing it Pest instead of Pesht). The best part about Budapest is the hundreds of thermal baths spread across the city. Swimsuits are necessities…. Yes, even in the winter.
One of my favourite places to visit was Brussels. Belgium is tiny; a two hour drive in any direction will land you in another country, so anywhere is a potential day trip. Belgians love to eat, which made it perfect for me! If you’re thinking of going to Belgium, then you have to try the world famous french fries. The double-fried french fries are unforgettable, with dozens of dipping sauces to choose from. Belgium has thousands of festivals covering food and drinks, all styles of music, and centuries-old cultural events, making it the perfect student city.
With so many places to visit in Europe, it was hard deciding where to travel to next. After Christmas I decided to travel to Rome. Although Rome can be overwhelming at first, with
many places to see, it has a very reliable metro system to get around the city. THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF ADVICE IN ROME: Walk like a local. Trying to cross the street in Rome is a bit like square-dancing. One step off the curb, two steps back. Just remember, if you see the driver, they see you. The best way to see the city is to walk; on the street is also where you will find home to some of the best pizza, gelato, and bakeries. Every street and corner has something new to offer.
One of my most memorable moments of my study abroad was a 1800m hike up the Schneeberg, with my brave and adventurous friends. Although the most difficult part was getting out of bed the next morning, because of the unbearable pain in my legs. The breathtaking view, excitement, and experience were something unforgettable and the pain was well worth it.
The importance of my time in Vienna is something that I cannot express enough. It was an opportunity of a lifetime and one that I will remember for the rest of my life. Along with the many adventures, I also had the chance to meet many wonderful people and friends from all around the world.
The most difficult part of my semester was saying goodbye to the city and the people I had formed an incredible bond with over the course of my semester. It’s hard thinking about all my favourite places: Schönbrunn, Belvedere, Prater, The Opera House, Imperial Palace, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Rathaus, Museums Quartier, Christmas markets… and knowing I won’t be able to go back whenever I feel like it.
I really learned a lot studying abroad in Vienna. But I learned a lot about myself too. I learned that I could go to a place and know nothing about the language, people, and basic life around me and not only survive, but thrive. I learned that I could overcome these obstacles and end up never wanting to leave. I know that this won’t be the last time I go to Vienna!
Some Important Things I Learned In Vienna:
1. Try to learn the local language.
After meeting so many people from all over the world, I decided to learn some basic vocabulary from my friends from different countries. Hello, Bye, Thank you, Yes, No, How are you. I never thought I could communicate so much with these six simple words.
2. Pack your groceries, pay the cashier, get your change and move ahead in 10 seconds.
I never realized how stressful packing groceries could be until I went to Vienna. Forget about organizing your grocery, just throw everything in your bag, pay the cashier and move on and move out of the way!
3. Everything is closed on Sunday…. No seriously…. EVERYTHING.
I learned this the hard way. Make sure you stock up on food, or anything else you might need, because everything is closed on Sunday!
4. Don’t tell Austrians that they sound like Germans.
Just don’t do it.
5. Visit as many museums as you can.
Vienna is home to some of the most inspirational artists in the world. Pieces of art can be found from artists such as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Beethoven, and Mozart. Vienna is often called “The city of music”.
Try the world famous Sacher Torte and Wienerschnitzel. You can also find many cafes, and restaurants scattered throughout the city. The street food is also amazing; make sure to try the Bratwurst or Kebaps.
7. Bring a selfie stick.
Well, maybe not everywhere. But take as many pictures as you can, talk to new people, and get out of your comfort zone. Time flies by quickly, so enjoy every moment you have, because these will be the best memories.
Thanks to FH BFI Wien, UFV, my teachers, friends, the international offices at UFV and BFI Wien, and above all, the city’s amazing hospitality, for making this the best experience of my life! Dream, Explore, Discover!