I spent my fall semester 2018 – 2019 attending the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria. It is divided into four campuses in different cities around the state of Upper Austria. The engineering programmes are in a small town called Wels. It´s located in the middle of the train route from Vienna to Salzburg. The town is small, but cozy. You will get to know the city center pretty quickly. The Traun river flows right through Wels. Where in the summer it’s nice to take a cooling dip in or if you are daring a refreshing one in the winter.
The campus of Wels is really nice and modern. The campus consists of 8 buildings that are spread around the city center. Most of my classes were held in the main building. I stayed in a dorm during my exchange. It allowed me to meet many people, locals and other international students. Austrian food also came familiar through the warm dining and breakfast opportunity that was included in our accommodation.
I found the lectures and teaching methods to be pretty similar to what I have experienced in TAMK. Of course, there were minor differences. For example, the scheduling system with weekly changing timetables and the occasional workshop-oriented courses. That would last up to 7 hours a day for three days and then the course is completed. The exams here are also a bit different being more condensed and therefore the exam time shorter, usually about 45 minutes to one and a half hours. Another thing is how the semesters are determined. In Austria there is a summer and a winter semester instead of fall and spring semester. The winter semester stars in October and ends in February while the summer semester goes from March to June. This unfortunately caused me some troubles at the end of my exchange because the semester in Austria had not finnished when the spring semester in Finland had already started. The school community is active, they organize events and trips. For example, we got to visit a famous cookie factory. Also, there is a Seidlstandl every other Thursday in the school courtyard. Where you can have a drink and get to know other students.
In my spare time I aimed to travel as much I could and see around Austria and Europe. Take advantage of the great location of Wels. Like I mentioned before Wels is located on the main railway route from Vienna and Salzburg. Therefore, it was super easy to get around using the train. (Tip: buy an ÖBB Vorteilscard Jugend for 20 € and get 50% off all the train tickets for a year) At the beginning of my exchange I got to explore Austria and witness the beautiful mountain landscapes. There are too many opportunities for great hikes and enjoying the nature in Austria. It was also worth visiting the bigger cities of Upper Austria, like Vienna and Salzburg. Wels is also positioned well for traveling around Europe. Always nice to return from the bigger cities to the calm and quiet city of Wels though. Lastly, you can´t fully enjoy Austria’s alps without having a little go at skiing or snowboarding. Two weeks before my exchange came to an end I got to squeeze in a day to go snowboarding to Grünau Kasberg a close by skiing resort.
Although I struggled a little academically in all I really enjoyed my exchange in Austria.