My Erasmus semester abroad in Villach – Linda Weuffel
A semester abroad does not only mean to study in another country, it has many advantages: you experience a foreign and new culture, improve your social skills and make new friends. With the study abroad experiences from our students from foreign countries you can get a glimpse of what life and studying is at Carinthia University of Applied Sciences.
Linda Weuffel from the Netherlands spent her fall semester 2020 in Villach – here’s what she’s saying about her experience.
Fancy mountains, clear water and beautiful nature? Then Carinthia is the right place for you!
Due to the Corona situation, it was hard to plan something early and so I finally found an apartment a month before and planned everything else. Normally, however, I would recommend a preparation time of 2-3 months in order to handle everything calmly.
I was first interested in the dormitory, because there is everything you need and you can live with the other students, but there was no more space. My further search then took place via internet portals such as immowelt.at, immobilienscout.at or willhaben.at. In addition, there is a Facebook group called: FH Kärnten find room/roomate in Carinthia. I found a room in a flat with two other guys near to the center of Villach.
I registered the courses in advance via Mobility Online, which were then confirmed by both universities. I received sufficient support from the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences by means of information material about the study programs of the School of Management and courses. The courses can be chosen in German or English as well as pure language courses. I was also supported in my search for an apartment!
When I arrived, I had mixed feelings and was overwhelmed by the big mountains and the many firs. At first, I thought it was a small village in the middle of a valley, but the next morning I was proved wrong. Villach is really big and has a lot to offer. Since my parents had brought me there, I didn’t need to be picked up. For this reason, I also had my own car with me, which was a great help during this time. Buses only go there at long intervals and often not to the nicest places. Many students had a bicycle as an alternative or rode with others, but the car made a lot of things possible for me, especially during the Corona period. The cost of living for me was around 700 euros. The flat was okay at 350 euros, only the food was a little more expensive than in Germany. Petrol was much cheaper than in Germany at the time.
What do you have to see in Carinthia?
Definitely the Dobratsch, which is my most frequent destination. It’s one of Villach’s local mountains and also one of the highest there. The nature park is breathtaking, and you can drive up to the parking space by car or bus and hike from there. From the viewing platform you have a wonderful view of the Alpine panorama, as far as Italy and Slovenia.
Absolute insider tip:
Go to the summit cross at sunrise! But also the Goldeck and the Gerlitzen Alpe are an absolute dream as far as the view is concerned (hotspots for skiing).
Swimming in nature in autumn/winter? And in crystal-clear water and without freezing? YES, that is possible. In Warmbad Villach, you will find the Maibachl. In this thermal spring, when it has rained or snowed, the water comes directly from the ground and is usually 27 degrees warm. A unique natural spectacle!!! Another great excursion is the water adventure trail in Greifenburg. Very refreshing in summer and full of huge icicles in winter! It´s not every winter but this one was very cold.
Austria is of course also known for their beautiful lakes, my favourites were the Faaker See,
Wörthersee and Ossiacher See and the slightly distant crystal clear Weißensee!
You want to see something historic in nature? Then definitely check out the Meerauge Bodental in Ferlach. It looks like it was painted and no, there is no filter on this picture, it really looks like that! 😉 I could tell you so much more… the Affenberg, the castles, the gorges, the Pyramidenkogel, etc… there is soooo much to discover. The main attraction in Austria is simply nature! Since Carinthia, or Villach, is so close to the Italian border and Slovenia is not far away either, you can make great trips there too! A little tip: Laghi di Fusine in Italy. You can feel the mediterranean feeling in Villach too. But the people in Austria are also very nice and helpful. As soon as you leave the city for the countryside, everyone greets you with „Servus“ or „Grüß Gott“. If you are running late, it is polite to let them know, as this is very important to the Austrians. Hiking boots are a must, in winter enough warm clothes, the last winter was very cold and snowy!
Despite the Corona situation, the reception was great and you felt at home very quickly. There was an introduction day, which is usually structured a little differently. You could get to know each other at the university and there was an event with the most important information for the start in Carinthia. Afterwards, we went to a meal together on a mountain and did a scavenger hunt through Villach. The support from FH Kärnten was really unbelievably good. Coursechanges and important signatures on documents were handled directly.The professors were also very friendly and qualified. You were given great support from the very beginning and the university always gave you small gifts and organised programmes for the international students. Alexandra Maurer from the International Team, in particular, always tried to answer all our questions and did everything she could to make sure we had a good time. You never felt alone!
Personally, I didn’t make the best decisions when choosing courses. I assessed them differently in terms of content and would have liked the university to have informed me that a certain amount of prior knowledge is an advantage for some of them. The learning effort is definitely higher than at Fontys, as there are always assignments, tests during the semester and exams at the end. However, the level is relatively the same and the individual exams are not as demanding as the normal exams at Fontys. Due to Corona, only the first two weeks took place in presenceand the rest of the semester online. However, the lectures were mostly very interactive. Overall, I was still satisfied and had very helpful fellow students at my side. Due to my choices, I was in a fixed class and thus had a great sense of community. I was included from the beginning and people showed interest in me, which I am very grateful for.
When I look back on my semester abroad, I can only say that it was the best decision to go to the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences or to Austria in general. Despite all the circumstances, I was able to see and experience the most beautiful parts of Austria and especially corners of Carinthia. I can really recommend going there to every nature lover from the bottom of my heart. I learned to appreciate nature even more there and I’m actually more of a city lover haha. I always thought that Austria was very similar to Germany, but this is not the case. The nature and fresh air is just breathtaking and a great way to slow down. Since there were a lot of restrictions due to Corona, my contacts with the other international students were limited, but I am sure that when things get better again, you can have a great time together there and the party life is more spectacular than it was for me! 😉 I love Carinthia and will go back there!