A Year Abroad Studying & Working in Vienna

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Matthew

How did you spend your Erasmus+ in Vienna?

I stayed in Vienna for 4 months, between October and January (in my opinion, the best time, as you get to experience Christmas in Vienna which is the most AMAZING thing). I worked as a language assistant in two schools, primarily leading group work, but also leading full classes every so often (you’d only have to do that if you felt comfortable doing so).

During this period I must’ve only worked about 13 or so hours a week, so you therefore have a lot of free time to do whatever you’d like! Regarding the application process, this was through the British Council and you had to send off a personal statement etc, nothing difficult. The dialect in Vienna can be tricky, but most of the people I came across also spoke Hochdeutsch (standardised German), so it was never really a problem. It was always fun to discuss the dialect in conversations. 

What would you recommend?

I’d recommend that you make the most of your spare time, which you’ll have a lot of. Join a society or a club somewhere. If I could go back then this would be something I would personally change, as I don’t believe that I immersed myself enough. Also, make sure that you say to the teachers in the schools that you are only going to speak German with them. This is a great way to immerse yourself in the language, and is also mandatory since all of the teachers will try to speak English to you – they want to practice too. 

Remember that you may be in two different schools. Find out where they are beforehand if you can, so that you don’t have to commute too far to get to either. 

Adam

How did you spend your placement?

I lived in Vienna for a 12-Month industrial placement at a logistics company. The application process was quite daunting at first, but my company flew me to Austria to interview, and after meeting multiple team members I was left more at ease with the prospect of working there. The work schedule was more relaxed than I am used to from interning in the UK and I worked from 8am-5pm most days, with the exception of Fridays where we could leave at 3:30pm. The language barrier was tough at first, primarily owing to the dialect used in Vienna, but after a few months I was able to assimilate to subtle differences in day-to-day language.

What would you recommend?

I would recommend researching the intern position or university exchange that you are applying for. Try to speak to friends, and colleagues to find out exactly what their experience was, but also remember that each person’s experience will be different. Researching the company or university and the surrounding town is equally important, and you should arrive at the decision with key knowledge about where you are moving, and why. Ultimately my main advice is to prioritise the quality of the internship or university placement over purely the location. 

Anything to watch out for?

I would make sure that if you are taking a work placement you research the living costs, and incorporate that into any pre-arrival budget calculations. A classic pitfall is drooling over a high prospective salary, only to realise that living costs render it comparatively lower than in low cost cities.

Zak

Why were you there?

I was in Vienna for about 7 months. I spent the first few working with the British Council and then when that placement ended, I hung about for the summer and did a German language course at Uni Wien. 

If I could go back and do it again I would, wholeheartedly and unequivocally. I am very aware that I was super lucky with my placement and location etc, but it was one of the most joyful times of my life and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

What would you recommend?

I think it is important to remember that it is ok to ask your line-manager for help. Also, you have to make an effort to speak German at the placements. I had a rule which was I spoke German in the staffroom and English everywhere else (which often meant switching language mid sentence as I went through the door.)

Fliss

How did you spend your placement?

I was on my year abroad working as a British Council Language Assistant. I was there for 9 months. The application process was online – filling in a short personal statement and your preferences etc. I worked 5 days a week, but only 13 hours. There was no particular language barrier, I chose to speak German with the teachers, but they almost all spoke very good English.

I found this job very fulfilling and very much enjoyed the teaching, but I would have wanted more hours. If I were to do it again, I would be inclined to get a job with more hours per week to keep me busy and stimulated.

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