ŠKODA AUTO University offers a lot of options for an exchange semester abroad. As a result, it was not easy to decide which university is the most interesting. I decided to study at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria.
I can say that I do not regret it. My decision was right. I had many possibilities to find out how the education system works in Austria. During the semester abroad, I met many interesting people and experienced Austrian culture.
In the first part of my report I would like to focus on the practical information about studying in Austria. The first step that I had to go through was the “paperwork” – for example confirmation of accommodation and confirmation of financial security. The Austrian Government requires that every foreign student must have at least 3000 Euros for one semester. Then I had to wait for confirmation of acceptance. All formalities were solved thanks to the cooperation with the Austrian International Office, whose members were helpful in every situation and answered all my questions. Another thing that was very useful was the local “buddy” system. Each incoming student had a possibility to discuss his/her questions with a local student – i.e. the buddy. Erasmus exchange students also attended an Orientation Week, which took place one week before the beginning of the semester. During this week we received the most important information about studying in the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria.
After dealing with the formalities I could focus on my studying. All of the subjects were taught in English (except the German course). I also attended English courses with local students. Their English language skills are very good. I managed to improve my level of English thanks to the English courses. The way of teaching in Austria differs a lot compared to the Czech education system. Some subjects are in blocks – they are very intensive (for example eight hours per day) for short periods of time. After this time period, the subject is finished. I also had to cope with Saturday school. That was really a surprise for me. The teaching itself combined theory with practice. Local students have to attend and participate in company projects. They solve specific assignments directly in companies like BMW and MAN. Courses in FH Steyr are focused on actual topics. Students present their opinion very frequently during the presentations. It is necessary to concentrate in the courses. Unfortunately there were some disadvantages in FH. The local information system, especially, was not working properly at the beginning of the semester. Our AIS is much better.
When it comes to financial expenses, Austria is an expensive country for us. The grant, which I received from the EU, covered my accommodation and food costs. Everything else can make your life in Austria very expensive – especially travelling. If you want to travel a lot, I do recommend buying a student discount card for trains. You will get a 50% discount on each train connection in Austria for just 19 Euros. But even with this discount card, Austrian trains are still much more expensive than Czech trains. You also have to be prepared for higher food costs. Lunch in the school canteen cost around 5 Euros. If you want to save money, I do recommend cooking for yourself. Prices in supermarkets are similar to the Czech Republic, except meat and milk products. Be careful on Sundays because supermarkets are closed! Concerning accommodation, I stayed in a flat that I shared with another four international students. The price for accommodation, including internet, was 240 Euros.
Austrian culture and traditions are similar to ours. However, there are some differences. For instance, I noticed that everybody recycles. Secondly, most Austrians prefer Austrian products. Quality is preferred over low prices. Thirdly, Austrians in general are not so stressed. I think that this is due to the higher standard of living and higher incomes of local people. Another interesting tradition in Austria is knocking on tables after presentations. It replaces clapping.
There are many beautiful and interesting places in Austria. Steyr itself is a very nice town. For those who like cities, I recommend a visit to cities like Vienna and Salzburg. Small towns like Zell am See and village Hallstat are also worth visiting too. Steyr is located close to the Alps, where there are many opportunities for sports and tourism. Located near to Steyr is Linz. There are many low cost airlines flying from Linz into many countries, so you can take longer trip. I also recommend checking ÖBB websites. There are many discounts for certain routes.
At the end of my report, I want to express thanks to ŠKODA AUTO University for the possibility to spend an exchange semester abroad and to the European Union for the financial grant, which significantly contributed to cost reduction.