check in : my experience studying at an Austrian uni

Hey everyone! how’s it going?

Just thought I’d share with you what it’s been like at an Austrian University having now made it unscathed to the Easter Holidays!

So for those of you who don’t know, I am currently study at the University of Vienna (Universität Wien for those German speakers among you) and I’m not going to lie, it’s been very different to university back home in England, and incredibly different from my first semester in Russia!

I’ll be honest with you, the first week was pretty rocky. Actually even from the first day it was pretty rough. I came out of my first seminar, and literally cried to my sister on the phone – it had been that bad!!! I won’t go into the details of that particular seminar, but because I had signed up for extra credits that I needed (not a bad idea to do that) I knew that if a seminar or lecture turned out to be unsuitable, I could simply choose not to do that course. That evening I had a lecture of Austrian History, which again, I was completely at a loss in and I went home that first Monday incredibly discouraged and kind of scared of what the coming weeks had in store for me. But that was just one day in amongst many other to come, and in the following days I had lectures that went so much better, lectures and classes that I found intriguing and interesting, and others where I was completely lost, and couldn’t understand the lecturer’s accent or tone, but I feel like that happens sometimes back in the UK anyway.

By the time I’d completed week two I had a pretty clear idea of which modules were my favourites and which ones I’d really have to work at to make them make sense. I’ll give you a little taste of some of the courses that I picked:

Introduction to German as a Foreign Language/German as a Second Language (DaF/DaZ) ; German in the Migration Society ; DaF/DaZ from the Background of Language Policy

  • so these three classes (two of which are a lecture and one is a seminar) are all under the same branch of German as a Foreign/Second language. I was initially a little apprehensive about this module, because the website stated that a particular language competence in German was a prerequisite, but it has actually turned out to be my most enjoyable and accessible of all my classes. Admittedly the fortnightly three hour long seminar is pretty intense, and the reading for these lectures is also equally as intense, but it is definitely made up for in the fact that the content is nothing like what is taught or given as an option back home, and the lecturers and tutors for this department are honestly the nicest people
  • I also love that you’re able to take classes on a more pedagogy related theme, without actually needing to be on a course specific for teaching – unlike the UK. So that has given me a really interesting insight into the thought and theory behind teaching and learning foreign languages.

Population Sociology (or Demography)

  • I’ll be honest, I’m not so keen on this one. The lecturer mumbles eighty-five percent of the time, which is not helpful for me as a non-native speaker, and to stay at full concentration for two hours is pretty intense, especially when you’ve just finished a ninety minute lecture just fifteen minutes earlier. I guess that’s a lesson to me in timetable compiling – I never learn!

Austrian History

  • Again, it’s a lecture that I’m sure it would be really interesting, if I knew what was going on, and had a basic knowledge of Austrian History, which all my peers (being Austrian) seems to have and obviously I don’t because if you study German at school or university, you tend to learn German history and nothing about Austrian History unless your department has a speciality in Austrian culture and history, nonetheless I’ll get there. As the classes go on, they start to make more sense, so that’s a good sign.

Introduction to Phonetics & Phonology ; Text Linguistics

  • Initially I thought that I was being sneaky, by taking a phonetics module because I have done phonetics modules back home, but this phonetics module has been so much more applicable, relevant and useful. I have learnt so much already about forming different sounds, and how the symbols correlate to sounds in different languages. love it.
  • the Text Linguistics module is a interesting one. I understand what’s going on, and I kind of understand the general concept of it so far, but what I’m not quite grasping yet is the point of this module. Perhaps that is why it’s such a “young” discipline in the world of linguistics, but hopefully I’ll find out or work out what the whole point of this module is soon and why we are learning about the criteria for defining a “text”

So there you go, a little summary on my classes. It’s quite a mix. I will admit that timetabling so that I would have a three day weekend played a bigger role than it should’ve in my module choosing, but your priorities have to lie somewhere, and that’s where mine were. I have found that it does take an awful lot more work, and further reading to fully grasp and retain what is happening in the lectures.

To the students among you, hope your studies are going well!

Have a lovely Easter break! x

 

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