Rachel Davis, Universitat Wien, Vienna
Why should people choose the destination?
Vienna is a beautiful city, set in a beautiful country and offers an almost unending choice of things to do.
The city moves at a slower pace to other capitals I have visited, the people here take more time to relax and enjoy life, which offers a much less stressful experience than exploring other cities.
The city offers hundreds of opportunities for exploring elsewhere too, Bratislava is accessible in a 50-minute train journey and trains also run to Budapest, Zurich, Prague and Ljubljana as well as much further afield.
Reading the guide book before I came, I was overwhelmed by the number of things there were to do here, both as a tourist, and as a local (of sorts). Since I’ve been here though, my list of things which I absolutely must eat/do/visit just keeps getting longer and longer, to the point where I don’t think one year will be anywhere near long enough!
One thing every tourist must do in the city is to walk along the Ringstrasse. It’s the only way to truly appreciate the scale of the city’s magnificence. Many of the city’s main buildings (university, Parliament, palaces, opera, theatres) are situated on this long curving avenue and walking past is the only way to admire them properly.
Vienna is also known for its abundance of palaces, and the one I would recommend is the Belvedere. While not particularly large, it is the home of several world-famous paintings by the Austrian artist Gustav Klimt. His painting ‘The Kiss’ is one of the few famous paintings which doesn’t disappoint when seen in real life.
How was the process of adjusting after being in the UK?
I find the way of life and the way people behave here very similar to the UK, no one talks to each other on public transport and people like to moan about everything!
Coming abroad to study though makes you realise quite how much students in the UK are pampered. I had to find my own modules, apply for them individually, check that none of them clashed and construct my own timetable accordingly. Within the next few weeks I will have to register for my own exams too, because you have to do everything for yourself here.
How expensive is it to live there?
Food is expensive here, mainly because everything is organic and free-range and it really is a struggle to find cheap food. However, entertainment and culture is on offer very cheaply if you know where to look. Opera, theatre and ballet performances all offer cheap standing tickets on the evening of the performance and unsold tickets are often offered at a reduced price to students, so you could pay €12 and find yourself (like I did) sat in the third row next to people who have paid €80 for their tickets!
Best piece of advice?
If in doubt about whether something is open on Sundays, assume it’s closed. All supermarkets, banks, university facilities and chain shops are closed on Sundays, which means planning ahead is essential for food shopping.
Sunday closure is less of an issue for tourist attractions, but it’s still a good idea to check, because open hours for everywhere are strange here.
Study abroad options available?
University or work placement as an English Language Teaching Assistant with the British Council.