Zac-Vin Chow

Date: SP2, 2014
Degree Program: Bachelor of Management (Marketing)
Host University: Vienna University of Business and Economics 
Host Country: Austria

Why did you choose your host university?

I chose my host university because they had courses that were relevant to the courses in the University of South Australia. Also, being ranked as one of the top 50 Business Schools in Europe convinced me that this university would be a great choice for my education. Furthermore, being in Austria, it would be in the centre of Europe which meant that exploring Europe would be much easier.

Chow 1What was the university like?

The classes were very different from how the University of South Australia operated. Instead of having separate lectures and tutorial classes, we have single 3 hour sessions that would take place. The classes are generally more interactive due to the smaller size of the class (up to 30 students) and this makes learning much more interesting as the lecturers tend to get the students to engage with each other and the material in class.

The assessment is somewhat similar to that of UniSA in the sense that they provide you with weekly tasks and major assignments and there are final examinations to prepare for as well. The resources made to the students are more than adequate, although I wished there were more printing credit. The library is huge with fantastic quiet study areas and all round WiFi connection for students along with plug points for students to keep their laptops charged.

The University is very modern and the facilities are very new. This is due to Vienna University moving to the new campus. The Learning Centre looks like a space station. The architecture is fantastic and the university grounds are very spacious.

What did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?

I personally feel that having done this exchange, I am able to broaden my perspective and how I view the world. In Europe, the borders between each country are so close to each other that there has to be a high level of tolerance amongst each other especially those within the Schengen region where the borders are open. I was able to witness the level of tolerance in Europe that they have for each other. Furthermore, having been able to mix with a lot of other exchange students from various nationalities allows me to learn about so many different cultures and their practices which was extremely fascinating.

Also, I was able to travel a lot during the exchange program which allowed me to witness first-hand how the people in various countries operate on a daily basis and visit a lot of places that I would have never dreamed of ever going to. But what I think was the most important thing I gained was some life-long friends. 

What accommodation options were available to you?  How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?

I used OeAD housing in Vienna, Austria. They have various accommodations available to students in different parts of the city for different prices. What I didn’t know was that it would be possible to look on the Facebook page titled ‘Erasmus/exchange Students in Vienna 2014 .... (insert season you arrive)’ where there are a lot of people who post about rooms or apartments available to rent for a cheaper price that what OeAD has to offer.

However, in terms of affordability, it is quite affordable if you are willing to share an apartment with one or two housemates and live further out of the city. I was renting at 530 euros a month which was ridiculously expensive but I had the whole apartment to myself. But nevertheless, the best option would be to share the apartment with other housemates. 

Describe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries? 

My travel experience was incredible. I travelled a lot more to neighbouring countries and visited so many different places. Most of my trips during the semester were done with friends. We travelled in small groups which made planning a lot easier and accommodations and transport were not that difficult to obtain. We were able to rock up at the station and purchase our tickets to head to the next destination via train/bus.

With the accommodations, you could find cheaper accommodations on airbnb.com, booking.com or by just using Google.

After the semester, I did more of a solo tour around Western Europe with Turkey being the exception. It was nice to have your solo time and meet new people along the way. It makes you more sociable and develops you as a person in different ways. When travelling alone however, it is important to be more alert about your surroundings and your belongings as my bag almost got stolen in Rome.

Chow 2Describe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.

I adjusted pretty quickly to life in a different country as I was ready and excited to assimilate with the culture and the lifestyle they had. I had a little bit of difficulty with the food because it wasn’t as exciting to me. And it took me awhile to learn about a few things such as everything being closed on Sundays, administrative office hours are so short it’s incredible and how to use the metro system.

With meeting new people, it was mainly down to the EBN team they have here which organizes social events for us new students to get together and mingle around. It also helped that I was living in a student apartment which meant that socializing and meeting new people was common. 

Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your future career?

Indeed. Doing an exchange program opens up your eyes to a whole new world and way of living that you might not have realized. Had I not done the exchange program, I believe that my mindset would not be as broad as it is now. Also, it makes you more tolerant and patient as you have to work with people from various background. 

What advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the exchange program?

Work hard to save up some money, Study hard to earn your scholarships and ‘Just do it’. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that should never ever be missed. I quote Saint Augustine of Hippo “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”.

Top Tips:

Be open-minded with a hint of cautiousness. Be ready to try something new (within moderation) as for most things, if you don’t try you will never know. 

Areas of study and research

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