Counting down day after day, going to Austria all seemed like a dream to me. The idea of going to a complete foreign country for 6 months seemed quite daunting and didn’t really hit me until we actually arrived in Dornbirn— which involved a tiring 22 hour plane ride to Zurich, and another 2 hour train ride to Dornbirn. Jet lag was a pain for the first few days, where we found ourselves sleeping at the most random times of the day (Ourselves = Alice and I. Refer to her blog for a more interesting story, stay tuned.)
It is now my third week in Dornbirn, and I must say I love it here. The food, the people, the hikes, the views you get from the school—everything! The international students move and interact like one tight family. I am currently staying at Sebastianstrasse— student accommodation for international students—and it’s crazy to feel as though we’ve known everyone for months. With initial concerns of feeling homesick and meeting new friends, meeting everyone certainly did a major part in settling in Dornbirn with ease. Going out to the famous Mr John’s bar, skiing, hiking, weekend trips to Milan, Germany and Switzerland and just group night outs—you are constantly kept busy with interesting activities (Lots of party events are organised if that interests you). Grocery shopping is a huge part of my life here in Dornbirn, where Alice and I go on daily errands for some good speck (schpeck, cured meat) and bergkase (cheese) that we haven’t gotten sick of YET.
The amount of different people you get to meet through this program is insane- students from Finland, the Netherlands, Brazil, Mexico, Belgium, Japan, France and MORE. You also get to meet the local students who are also very lovely and helpful in figuring your way around Austria. Not to mention, FH Vorarlberg has this great ‘buddy’ system where international students (like myself) get the opportunity to actually ‘meet’ and befriend local students before arriving in Dornbirn. They help you answer any questions that you may have and also offer to pick you up from the station upon arrival in Austria— alongside with other things like suggesting night outs, day trips to Vienna and other more exciting things. We went sledding the other night, playing a few traditional Austria games (that I lost, and had to shout everyone drinks) and listening to the live band up in the mountains. It was quite a wild night where Eugenia (A friend from Mexico) and I ended up flying off the sled, rolling into the thick snow. The ‘fun’ part of this was actually losing the sled as a result, watching it fly into the woods right down the cliff. We had to pay another 90 euros for it, which hurt my soul but all in all it was still a great night.
FH Vorarlberg so far has been amazing (The views that you get from the uni are actually GOALS). They have a great program for international students that allow us to further bond with each other and the local students of Dornbirn. They also offer a surprising range of different sports and activities like skiing, volleyball, football, rock climbing and kickboxing. I’ve taken up rock climbing, volleyball and kickboxing and so far they’ve been quite good! In terms of my course, I realised that most of the subjects were theory and group based —in comparison to UTS where there is more of a focus on practical aspects of design. Despite being quite content heavy, I’ve learned about interesting business approaches to design that I hope to practice in the future.
Travelling has been one of the most thrilling part of this exchange journey, as Dornbirn is located near the border of Germany and Switzerland- and is generally close to all the other European countries. The other weekend, we took a 5hr 30 minute bus ride to Milan, – a trip that was decided upon literally 3 hours before we left- only to end up with hands full of shopping bags. We’ve currently planned another weekend trip down to Salzburg and hoping it will be good.
Overall, life here in Austria is amazing and I look forward to the next 4 months of my stay.
AUF WIEDERSEHEN (I’ve been learning German here, and I’m not sure if it’s going too well)
Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication
email@example.com (if you have any questions 🙂 )