Getting Settled in Vienna

Hello Readers! My name is Anastasia and I am a Senior at the University of Pittsburgh studying global management and marketing in the College of Business Administration. This Fall, I am finally getting to complete a semester abroad- a tremendous opportunity that was put on hold due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. From September to December, I will be a student at the University of Vienna School of Business and Economics.

I chose Vienna, Austria as my study abroad destination after this wonderful city left quite the impression on me back in 2017. While traveling with my family that summer, we had a long layover in Vienna that allotted us the time to spend an entire day exploring the city. The city was full of life and boasted beautiful architecture that make us stop and admire every corner, an array of cafes and bakeries that neatly lined the streets, as well as a family and tourist friendly atmosphere that made walking around the city feel very comfortable and enjoyable. When I saw Vienna was a destination on Pitt’s study abroad list, I immediately knew where I would chose to spend my semester abroad.

The program that I am participating in while abroad is an exchange program. Therefore, there is no Pitt presence at the University of Vienna, so it is a rather intense as well as independent program. I felt prepared to participate in such a program since I have gained a lot of travel experience throughout the years. I also wanted to take this time to push myself out of my comfort zone in order to learn more about myself as a student as well as an individual. My goals for this semester are to gain the skills necessary to network abroad as well as to lead an organized and well balanced schedule that allows me to manage my classes and course load while exploring my surroundings and soaking in life in a foreign environment.

Semester classes do not start until October 4th, but I am enrolled in a pre-semester German course that started on September 13th and lasts until September 24th. This course takes place on campus, so it has given me the opportunity to get used to the commute to campus, as well as the campus itself and its surroundings. Since this campus is only for the School of Business and Economics, it is a lot smaller than Pitt’s campus. The campus is organized in a block through which runs a wide sidewalk. On one side you will find two main buildings which house classrooms, eateries, the library as well as offices. On the other side you will find the bookstore and a bakery. Not far from campus is Prater Park, an amusement park that makes for an excellent place to hang out after class, whether you are looking for a bite to eat or just an afternoon stroll.

My living arrangements this semester are in a student housing building called Gasgasse, named after the street that it is on. I chose to sign up for student housing, as there were many great options through WU’s affiliate housing organization called OeAD. Gasgasse is about 4 miles away from campus, so I commute to campus using Vienna’s very well organized metro system. I chose a single room accommodation and my room comes with a bathroom, kitchenette, bed, desk and TV. It feels just like a studio apartment! My neighborhood is in the lively 15th district of Vienna, only a few metro stops away from Vienna’s city center. There are many great places for shopping and dining within walking distance, and the Westbanhof metro station is almost right outside my door.

I could compare the 15th district to Oakland, as both destinations capture a city feel even though they are removed from downtown. I believe I am adapting to my living situation pretty well! I am currently taking an introductory German course since I do not speak the language. However, every person that I have come into contact with at a store or restaurant has spoken English, which has made getting around pretty easy. I have made some new friends in my German course and building, as well as connected with the other two Pitt students that are also here studying abroad. I am very excited to see what this semester has in store! Stay tuned!