Congratulations on getting accepted into the university of (hopefully) your choice abroad! Now that some of the stress of the unknown has been taken away, it’s time to start thinking of some necessities, for example, visas, insurance and the most important for this blog post, accommodation!
I will try my best to provide some broad tips for all of those studying abroad; however, I can only speak of my personal experiences in Vienna. Unlike in Canada, some universities in Europe do not have student accommodation on campus, nor does the university control the student residences. Most often, these accommodations are provided by completely separate companies. This can make it a bit more difficult to figure out where to live on your semester or year abroad.
My first piece of advice would be to contact students who have previously studied in your city. They will definitely have tips on which areas are safe, affordable and may even have specific accommodations to recommend! In my case, the University of Vienna had a webpage dedicated to different housing companies and what they offered. I took the easy route. I applied to these housing companies knowing that most of them came furnished, some even with bedding and dishes. I was already stressed about moving to a new country, why add more stress?
The accommodation I ended up going with was provided by the OeAD. I would recommend this company to anyone looking for something that is catered to international students. My apartment came with all the furniture, dishes and amenities I could possibly need. I live in a three bedroom flat. There is a shared bathroom and kitchen area, which I share with my two flatmates and then we all have our own very spacious rooms. The common areas of the flat are cleaned once a week and our rooms are cleaned every two weeks. The building has laundry facilities (which unfortunately you have to pay for) as well as a party room that you can rent out.
The area of my building is also extremely convenient. I live in the second district of Vienna (Leopoldstadt), which despite its previous bad reputation, is completely safe. My building is a three minute walk to the outdoor amusement park “Prater” and a five minute bus to the U2 subway line. There is a grocery store, Billa, literally around the corner from my building as well as a pharmacy and take out restaurant with the famous Döner Kebab and pizza. It takes me about 15 minutes to get to the business building of the University of Vienna and about the same to get into the City Centre. The building is designed for international students studying at the WU (Wirschaftsuniversität) which is only a five minute walk as well. This allows you to meet a bunch of people that you otherwise probably wouldn’t have met!
My first semester here has been awesome! Although the rent is on the pricier side and I’m sure you could find a cheaper apartment, I don’t regret it at all. I’ve become great friends with my flat mates who are from Russia and Peru and have met other wonderful people in the building as well. Unlike the residences at Carleton, these are not on campus nor do they facilitate or really encourage any interactions between people in the building. That being said, I still managed to meet a bunch of friends through various avenues! Unfortunately, both of my flat mates are only staying for a semester so I will be getting new roommates in February or March.
Ultimately, the choice of where to live is not an easy one and requires a lot of effort if you want to find the most affordable and suitable one to your needs. I’ve heard of people finding AirBnBs and just renting them for the total duration of their exchange or finding flats on their own with locals, so it’s really all about what you want! I do have to say, the one downside of being in an international student building is that my flat mates and most people I meet only speak English and therefore I don’t get to practice my German as much as I would like.
I hope this helped a bit and if you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments!
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