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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Grüß Gott!

Hello there!

I have not written a blog post in actual months! So I thought that it was time to dust off the cobwebs, and start this back up again but this time from Vienna!

Having completed my first week here, I can confirm that I have already low-key fallen in love with this city. For starters the weather is so much better than in the UK. In the past week, it may have started off cloudy or drizzly in the morning but by the afternoon, the clouds have dispersed and the sun comes out. I will happily take that any day over four weeks of continuous cloud cover *cough* Russia *cough*. So before this become a really long post of me waxing lyrical about how much a love this city already, I’ll give you a short run down of the things that I’ve noticed in my first week here:

  1. Everyone really does say “Grüß Gott” or “Servus” to greet you, in the shops, in the corridor of the building, in the cafes, everywhere! I just hadn’t thought or believed that it really was a thing. But I guess it’s just another way of greeting one another.
  2. They talk REALLY FAST! Such that it takes me a couple of seconds to process what someone has just said to me, before I can respond, and I’m there momentarily confused and assistant is looking at me like, “she is not ok” but then I respond, and then dialogue continues.
  3. Contrary to what I was warned would happen. They don’t all instantly speak English to you if you’re super confused or slightly hesitant. So that’s a huge relief and I hope that continues because I want to speak as much German as possible. I think the only place where they spoke English to me was in the phone shop, when I wanted sim card, and that was probably a good thing because I have not a clue how to ask for a sim-card in German.
  4. Also contrary to what I was told, all the people I’ve met are really really helpful! When I first arrived, I was understandably confused, and bewildered and half-asleep – getting up at 4am for a flight does that to you. So the first person I asked for help was very lovely, and reassured me that yes, my ticket was valid. The next person, was also really lovely and said bye to me when she got off at her stop of the U-Bahn. When I was in Starbucks and didn’t know where to go, the staff in there were also really helpful. When I couldn’t find something in the supermarket, someone pointed that it was over in that direction, when I ended looking in the wrong place, they came over and pointed at the item I needed. Maybe I have just been really fortunate in my first week, but it made a good impression on me.
  5. Vienna isn’t as busy as I anticipated it to be. Perhaps because I know how busy London is, and for some reason I thought that Vienna, being a capital city and also incredibly beautiful, would also be rather busy. But I have been pleasantly surprised. Also there are shops everywhere, which is great, because it means you don’t have to go to a specific place in order to buy something.
  6. However, being a capital city and being Vienna, things are that bit more expensive, especially when I compare it with what I was paying for my food in the markets and restaurants in Russia.
  7. I’ll end on a positive note. The architecture is STUNNING! The buildings are so unbelievably beautiful. And I also cannot get over just how tall some of the buildings are, it makes you feel so small because some of the buildings are just so grand.

 

I hope you have all had a lovely week! I better not make any promises, but I’ll try to post again in a week or so, we’ll see how it goes!

 

Also if anyone of you has been to Vienna or Austria and would like to give me some suggestions on good places to visit, or cafés to try out than let me know!