Hallo! Ich bin Hannah und studiere Intermedia an der Fachhochschule Voralberg in Dornbirn, Österreich.
That translates to, I’m Hannah and I study Intermedia at the Fachhochschule Voralberg (FHV) in Dornbirn, Austria. Dornbirn is a small town situated in the Voralberg area (west Austria) and it has plenty to offer. It’s only been three weeks and exchange has been one of the best decisions I’ve made while studying at UTS. If you’re weighing up a few different countries for exchange, I highly recommend Austria. Without a doubt. It’s a really beautiful country and located right in the middle of Europe, making it easy to travel to different cities and countries. Definitely come here to ski, even if you have never tried it before, it’s a great opportunity to learn. There are mountains all around the Voralberg area, with the closest skiing mountain, Bödele, being 15-20 minutes by bus from Dornbirn.
The facilities at the FHV are very good for design students. They have lots of tools and spaces that are perfect for students who want to experiment with photography, interactivity/virtual reality and prototyping, just to name a few. Another great perk is the printing. Black and white printing is free for students as long as they provide their own paper. The teaching style is similar to UTS with lectures and smaller tutorials. However, the scheduling is done quite differently, with some subjects lasting the whole semester and some only a few weeks. The classes are about fifty-fifty exchange students to local students. Since I was already going out of my comfort zone by travelling to a foreign country, I thought I might continue along this road by choosing challenging subjects that I wouldn’t normally go for. For example studying interactive/creative code, prototyping and beginner German classes. Hopefully I’ll be able to converse with the locals at the farmers markets by the end of these 5 months.
Living in such a small town has been a refreshing change from the busy Sydney hustle and bustle. I came to Europe in early January to travel around for a few weeks before starting my exchange. After three weeks of traveling, I stayed in Feldkirch, an old small town with some family friends for another three weeks. This gave me the time to settle into Austria, get used to the cold weather and do some solo travels around Voralberg. Living with a local family gave me a special insight into the traditional foods they eat and their Austrian way of life.
I’m living in the Sebestrianstraße student accomodation, located on a hill just 15 minutes away from the university. After the first few action packed days of activities, we now cook together, eat together, ski together and take classes together. You make friends so easily in the house because everyone is in the same boat, and just wants to have fun while making the most of their exchange experience. There are about 10 different nationalities in the house, so when we have our weekly group dinners (which turn into feasts or parties) there is always plenty of food from different cultures.
Austria has many traditions and customs, especially in the Voralberg area. One of the biggest traditions being Fasching – a big carnival where people dress up in costume, parade the streets in decorated floats and throw lollies (and sometimes liquor) to the crowds in the towns of Voralberg. Another strange Austrian tradition is the lighting of the Funken – Funkens are large wooden structures with ‘witch’ figures on top that they burn to drive away the winter. The Austrians are very proud of their food, with most of the traditional dishes being unique to Voralberg. My favourites are Bergkasse (mountain cheese) from the local farmers markets, Käsknöpfle (cheese noodles) and Apfelstrudel mit Vanillesauce (apple strudel with vanilla sauce). I love the quaintness of the town, the old houses and the abundance of bakeries selling fresh bread and sweets. Beer is huge here. You can find most people having 0.5L glass of beer at lunch or at the ski fields. If you’re not a huge fan of beer, not to worry, they also have citrus radlers which is lemonade with beer.
- For Viscom students – I thought the subjects had to be exactly to plan with the syllabus, but when you get here you have the choice to change subjects. I ended up changing half of my schedule and chose subjects that were more practical and skill based. Don’t be afraid to choose something out of your comfort zone.
- Europe is cold. But they do have summer, so pack for all seasons. Dornbirn is also very bipolar with its weather, for example snowing one day and 15 degrees the next.
- If you have ski gear (jacket, pants , goggles, gloves), pack it in your suitcase. You’ll most likely go skiing because a lot of other exchange students choose this area specifically for the slopes.
- Have fun and try lots of new things!!
Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions. J
Bachelor of Design in Visual Communications
For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit: www.global-exchange.uts.edu.au