A Foreign Student in Vienna: Survival Kit

  1. If you are a foreign student in Vienna, get a calendar. Then spend half of a day planning your social life for the next week. Three days after, spend few more hours rearranging everything that has been arranged, highlight, cross out, cancel, be flexible and imaginative, and in the last minute come up with a whole new scenario. Tear out the page, chew it, throw away the calendar, find it, start over. This is the only way one can squeeze into other calendars.
  2. If you are a foreign student in Vienna, keep it interdisciplinary. Take a politics class in Neues Instituts Gebäude, economics on Oscar-Morgenstern Platz, human rights in Juridicum, religion on Sensengasse, PR in Publizistik and something on history in the main university building. After that all you do is migrate through the route that all your existing and potential friends will be using. No more ‘big-city-long-time-no-see’. Although if you didn’t have luck to do European Studies, and have to stick to one building instead, explore the libraries. In this case, please consult paragraph #3.
  3. If you are a foreign student in Vienna, start being an early library bird. Get a spot before lunch or don’t even try to get one till afternoon. Party on Saturday and don’t study on Sunday. If you can’t keep yourself from studying late on weekends, drop a course. If you decide to work in the old library of the main university building, don’t forget to use the following pattern: be lucky and get a key, put everything in the locker, take a sip of water, go studying, study, go back to the locker, take a sip of water, go back to study. Thus under the excuse of ‘monument protection’ intellectual process is efficiently combined with the physical exercise. Therefore, the age of the library prompts thinking and keeps you fit.
  4. If you are a foreign student in Vienna, avoid the ‘three F’ and don’t study home. These are: Facebook, Fridge and Flatmates that will keep you away from submitting a paper. Don’t get confused by most of Viennese students, who over generations have developed a strong immune system against these phenomena. Consult paragraph #3 and paragraph #1, and with the help of a calendar establish a library route.
  5. If you are a foreign student in Vienna, drink tea for the breakfast. During the intense day of migrating (paragraph #3 and paragraph #4) you will not only get to regularly consume coffees from the university machines, but also use it as a mean of socialization. Since coffee is an accepted social protocol, to reduce its consumption one can (a) start having breakfast tea, or (b) go into exile.
  6. If you are a foreign student in Vienna, go cultural. Get a museum’s pass, multiple standing and normal opera tickets, attend a ball (how to get company, see paragraph #1), enroll into dancing, music and language courses, enter debating-negotiating-and-further-sophisticated-means-to-hang-out clubs – and become a Habsburg princess/prince.

Last but not least, if you are a foreign student in Vienna, don’t be ashamed of cracking down the Erasmus stereotype. After all, it’s your only semester in a great city of waltz, schnitzel, strudel, dirndl and Mozart Kügeln. Yes, it is only you in Austria, dear foreign student, who knows that those are a few of Julie Andrews’ favorite things. But believe me, nothing is better than a Viennese telling you how ‘uhr’-ridiculous it is =)


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