The first time I laid my eyes on Dornbirn in Austria, I felt a feeling you might not expect. It was cold, gloomy, quiet and dark. We had just landed in Zurich and took a painstakingly crowded 3-hour train ride with 2 pieces of luggage and a backpack while also trying to keep our sanity. It was hard, and there was much confusion with directions, locations, speech, and currencies. It suddenly hit me I was in a whole new place, more than 16,000 kilometres from my comfortable bed at home, 22 hours from my family, and living in a time zone that was 10 hours behind. Getting here was a pain, but don’t get me wrong, I freaking love this place. It’s everything I’ve always wanted. I live right next to 3 countries (I came back from Milan just a few days ago!), I can experience Dornbirn’s random weather (trust me, Sydney doesn’t even compare) and since we get to wake up to snowfall some mornings, I can pick up groceries just 3 minutes from our student dorm. My dorm is just 15 minutes away from the university as well as 20 minutes from Marktplatz (a main shopping area).
Our host university had been accommodating and understanding, giving us the opportunity to learn German, and teaching us the traditional culture of Austria, more specifically of the Vorarlberg region. The biggest difference in terms of my degree at my host uni is that it is more focused on the outcome and the audience/ target, so many classes are highly theoretical and business-orientated, while UTS holds more practical and technical classes, which I think neither are truly bad. They also offer many activities to keep us occupied, including skiing, hiking, indoor climbing, soccer, kickboxing, and a sport I recently picked up, volleyball.
What I found most surprising about Dornbirn was how easily it made me hate it, then love it again. Many places (excluding restaurants and bars) close early during the week, and even earlier during the weekends, if they open at all. Austrians take their Sunday breaks seriously, so don’t expect the bank to be open, nor any grocery stores and shops. However, this could be a good opportunity to travel and sight see. Lindau in Germany is only an hour away by train, Munich about 3 hours, and St. Gallens in Switzerland about 2 hours.
Austria isn’t a bad place, really. I look forward to seeing how I change by the end of this semester.
Bachelor of Design in Visual Communications
Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences