Name: Tim Side
Program: UMSL exchange program at Vienna University of Economics & Business Administration, Austria
Major: Business and Economics
Term Abroad:
 Spring semester during junior year

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Ever since I first decided to go to UMSL, I knew that I would want to spend a semester abroad. After talking with advisors from my department and the study abroad office, I decided that going in the spring of my junior year would be the best time for me to go.  Once I knew when I was going to go, I had to decide where I would go.  I wanted to go to Europe, but since I don’t speak a foreign language I did not have a specific preference.  I talked with the advisors at the study abroad office and they gave me the list of places I could go as well as recommendations to places that may interest me. As soon as I heard about the school in Austria, I knew that it would be the perfect place to study. The university is an economics and business school that offers a wide variety of courses in English.  Because Austria is in central Europe, I knew that it would be easy to travel on weekends and holidays.  Once I decided when and where, I had to prepare for the trip.  There was a lot to do, but fortunately between UMSL and WU, they gave me all the information and help that I needed to prepare.  

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I arrived in Vienna a week before orientation started so I had plenty of time to get to know the city. The first day or two was stressful being in a foreign country 5000 miles away from home and not knowing the language. But, the more I went out and got to know the city, the more comfortable I felt and soon I was navigating the public transport like a local. The first day I was there I had to sign up for classes so I was glad I was prepared with the courses that I wanted to take because classes fill up quickly. WU was very helpful with students who had trouble getting into classes and UMSL was extremely prompt in replying to questions so any issues were always resolved quickly. The orientation program for exchange students was the perfect way to make friends, see Vienna, and tour some smaller cities in Austria. By the time orientation was done and classes were starting, I already felt at home. 

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It was interesting transitioning to the different style of classes. The classes are primarily graded on projects and the final so it requires a lot of self-discipline to study throughout the course. Many of the courses were “block courses” which are courses that are one to two weeks long and have several hours of lectures each day. This style was perfect for exchange students, because it gave us lots of time to travel in between classes. The classes were all interesting and I would highly recommend taking international courses while you’re there. The campus itself was incredible! They had just moved to a brand new campus the prior semester so everything was brand new and extremely modern.  Each building had its own unique style, which made the campus as a whole look pretty cool. It is located between to subway stops so it’s really easy to get too. It also backs up to a park so on breaks and weekends it was a great place to go study or relax.

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One of my favorite things about my semester abroad was the amount of traveling I was able to do throughout the semester. Because of its central location, you could take a train to most of the central European locations and flights were never too expensive. The school had an organization called EBN, which planned several trips for the students throughout the semester. Because I had a lot of time to travel on breaks and weekends, I was able to travel all over Europe from Spain to Poland to Croatia. My favorite trip by far was the ski trip to the Alps of Austria. Although it was a warmer winter, we were still able to go to a glacier where they have snow until June. 

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All said and done, studying abroad was one of the best experiences of my life! It was extremely affordable and well worth the cost. I got to meet so many people from all over the world and travel to so many places in Europe. Some places I didn’t even know existed until I got there and they turned about to be some of my favorite places! Vienna itself is a great city to live and just about everyone understands a little English so it is easy to get by without speaking another language. If you have ever wanted to travel or spend a semester abroad, this is the time to do it and you will not regret it!

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