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My semesters abroad in Carinthia – Kostiantyn Halahura

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.

Kostiantyn Halahura from Ukraine and scholarship holder of the Ernst Mach Grant for students from non-European countries is studying “Systems Design” at Campus Villach – here’s what he’s saying about his experience.

Kostiantyn from Ukraine is studying “Systems Design”.
  • Country of origin: Ukraine
  • Study Program: Systems Design (Master)
  • Duration of Stay: 1 semester

What did you expect before coming to Austria?

Before coming to Austria, I expected stricter regulations than we have in Ukraine in all fields of life: education, science, daily routine. Besides, I wanted to check the European education’s quality by my own experience. It’s worth noting that all of my expectations have been proved out – here people respect the importance of laws, appreciate time of each other and act responsibly their work, especially faculties and International Relations Office staff, which is the most important department for an exchange student.


How did you find out about Ernst Mach Scholarship? And Carinthia University of Applied Sciences (CUAS)? Would you have come to Austria without the Scholarship Program?

I have chosen Carinthia University of Applied Sciences on advice of my faculty, the Head of Systems Engineering Department at NURE, Prof. Dr. I.V. Grebennik. He told me about an opportunity to apply for Ernst Mach scholarship. As part of the Erasmus+ project, he with colleagues visited a local facility “Infineon”, which cooperates with the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences (CUAS) in Villach. They were impressed by internal structure of this company and noticed that students of the “Systems Design” study program will be able to fulfil their potential there. Therefore, my acquaintance with CUAS has begun with a positive feedback which I trusted and made no mistake.

Even if I did not get the opportunity to study in Austria on a grant, this country was in a list of states which I definitely planned to visit because it is a land of Mozart, Haydn, Strauss, famous Vienna coffee, mountain ski slopes and breathtaking nature.

Kostiantyn exploring new interesting places around Villach.

How do you cope with your studies at Carinthia University of Applied Sciences (CUAS)? Was it challenging for you and if yes in what way?

As a student gaining a Master’s degree, I already have some experience from Bachelor studying times. Due to this, my studies at CUAS are not very difficult. The most challenging thing was to get used to the fact that all faculties here espouse a cause to their work and form the same habit in my attitude. For instance, at the beginning of semester it was hard to deliver assignments according to deadlines. But this is rather my problem than the university’s one.


What is one difference between education in your home country and education in Austria?

There are not many principal differences between education in Ukraine and here, in Austria but I will try to determine them.

Firstly, I want to say that when you study in an Austrian university, you exactly know, where you are able to apply to receive knowledge and skills.

Secondly, I have noticed more logical sequence and content of courses in the study program. I mean that you study only those classes, which you need for understanding the other ones. For example, our educational programme includes the course called “Advanced mathematics”, which is provided by an administration office in calculation that all Master’s applicants have a different mathematical background received during Bachelor’s studies and it is a good idea to remind them basics one more time for better understanding other disciplines.

Thirdly, I want to emphasize the high level of equipment used in campuses. By means of it, in nowadays hybrid studying mode a difference between distance and traditional onsite attendance has been reduced to minimum. To provide such opportunities, the university is supplied with good microphones, smart video cameras and a comprehensive intranet system. Another side of distance learning – high use of the Moodle platform with help of which students can obtain all necessary course materials that, by the way, are put online in a whole amount instantly after first classes without any delays.

Continuing the question about appreciating time, I want to add that system of scheduling in university is a little bit different from one to which I got used in Ukraine. It has fewer breaks and their duration is small. Instead of bigger intervals students have one big break (50 min), which I find more logical although at the beginning of term it was definitely unusual.

As a student gaining a Master’s degree, Kostiantyn already has some experience from Bachelor studying times.

How do you get to know Austria in your free time?

I was lucky to found people from Ukraine, Kirgizstan, Russia who are speaking my mother tongue. We try to spend time together exploring new interesting places not only in Villach but in whole Austria and even in near border countries (Italy, Slovenia).

Moreover, I rent an accommodation with a guy from Pakistan, with whom I take bike rides through a variety of lakes in Villach.


What was the hardest adjustment you had to make?

I cannot say that I had to make big efforts to get used for local conditions. Would sooner, I had to form new habits and adjust existing ones. For example, people sort trash here. It took me and my neighbor almost a week to learn how to properly separate different types of trash. In our homelands questions about trash sorting is in a progress stage.

Also, I needed to accustom myself to local grocery shopping – most of foods are bought in supermarkets instead of markets.

One of unhabituated things was that here in most of public places people do not know English or do not want to speak it. It is better to learn some basic German words and phrases to address your message and to understand people here.

Exploring the area around Villach by bike is a good way to get in contact with nature.

What was the most interesting thing you learned about the Austrian culture?

It is hard to speak about a country where you have been lived only for 2 months but I will try to highlight my observations.

I felt it during communication with the university staff before coming to Austria. Supporting exchange students is on a high level So many tips, advices, beneficial resources, interesting events, help! I would express gratitude for thought out to the last detail organization and kindly atmosphere. Furthermore, I met with a good attitude from my landlord from which I rent a room. She helped me to get used for local everyday life.

Here people behave openly without any pretense and boasting. Therefore, they focus only on main things. I really like it!

Observance of rights and duties, preciseness. I think, this character features were borrowed from the German mindset. Examples of these are the most accurate timetable for public transport (ÖBB – one love!), conducting lessons by faculties strictly until the end of the allotted time, slightly bureaucratic documentation system, good support in shops etc..

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