Austria is the perfect destination to experience a wealth of history combined with modern facilities and high-tech research in the heart of Europe. The magnificent landscape shaped by the Eastern Alps, the Lake District and the Danube River offers numerous outdoor activities such as mountain climbing, hiking, skiing, swimming and biking.



Languages Spoken:

German

Education System

HIGHER EDUCATION OVERVIEW 

Austrian universities offer bachelor's, master's, and doctoral study programs. Bachelor’s degree programs typically last three to four years, while master’s degrees typically only last one to two years to complete. Unified, undivided long-term master's programs are also offered in some fields of study and can take five to six years to complete. The use of ECTS credits allows diplomas and grades to be easily converted. The goal of this process is to create a more unified foundation upon which international cooperation and academic exchange increase international student mobility.  

The Austrian academic year usually runs from October to July and is divided into semesters: winter semester, which generally runs from early October to late January, and summer semester, from early March to late June. 

 

STUDYING IN AUSTRIA 

Courses 

You will typically be able to enroll in a variety of courses, though prerequisites for all courses must be met before the time of enrollment. Courses are available in English and German, depending on the institution, though there may be language proficiency requirements for those who wish to enroll in courses conducted in German. In most situations, you will register for each course at the institute that specializes in the target field of study. 

Registration 

You will register for individual classes with the aid of the international office after arrival in Austria. Please note that courses will not be available for registering until shortly before the semester begins.  

Course Load 

Austrian universities use the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) to define credit hours earned for each course. ECTS credits are based on the amount of work a student completes for the course, both in class and outside of it. Please be sure to check with your home institution as to how ECTS credits transfer to your home university. 

Your home institution sets the policy regarding the award of credit for coursework completed on an ISEP program. You are responsible for knowing your home institution's policies and procedures regarding this matter. 

Independent, self-directed study is heavily emphasized at Austrian institutions. Courses often have no set assignments and students are assessed by one examination or project. While this style of instruction is less demanding on a daily basis in comparison to study at a U.S. institution, independent study may ultimately be more rigorous in its demands. 

Exams & Grading 

Examinations can take the form of oral and written exams, project work or artistic projects. There are many different types of exams; they can be final course examinations, bachelor, master's, diploma examinations and doctoral examinations. The type of examination a distinction is made between examinations on a single subject and examinations on different subjects forming a single entity (comprehensive exams). Comprehensive exams can be organized as a series of exams or as one single examination before an examination board. 

Most of the examinations that you will take as an ISEP student are single-subject examinations, i.e. end-of-semester or continuous assessment-based examinations in the individual courses. Examination dates are to be arranged for you to be able to finish your studies within the given duration as stated in the curricula. You will also have to register online for exams. Examination dates, prerequisites and the period of time during which students can register can usually be found on the host university homepage. 

The Austrian grading scale is similar to the U.S. system, though the system is numerical, and a "D" grade equivalent does not exist. An individual grade (note) is awarded for a class, thesis or part of a large exam. An overall grade (gesamtnote) is awarded for multi-part exams. 

Transcripts 

A Transcript of Records contains the grades of all successfully completed courses. Transcripts are issued automatically with the exception of Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz and Technische Universität Graz, where you will have to request your transcript from the host institution. 

Visa and Residency

 

The information provided below is from the Austrian Embassy's website  Please check there for the latest updates and verify all information with your local consulate prior to departure.

 

RESIDENCE PERMIT

 

Type of visa for Semester or Full Year: National Visa D (semester) or Residence Permit (full year)

 

Visa fee: EUR 160 (residence permit) - EUR 170 (Visa D)

 

Expected processing time: 1-3 months depending on consulate

 

When to apply: after you receive your acceptance letter and any admission documents from your host university, and no earlier than three months before your program start date 

 

STUDENT VISA/RESIDENCE PERMIT

The visa or residence permit you require will depend on your program length and nationality. Please see below for which category you fall under.

 

Single Semester Programs (90 days to 6 months) for NON-EU/EEA citizens

Students on a single semester program will need to apply for a visa D via the Austrian embassy in their home country before departing for Austria, except for those from the US and Canada, who have the option to apply in-country*. For all other nationals, visas cannot be applied for or extended in Austria. Please contact the Austrian embassy in your country of residence for further information. Your host institution will send an acceptance and visa confirmation letter to help with the documents required for this visa. If you are applying for a Type D visa please note that you may NOT apply for a residence permit.

*Students from the U.S. and Canada, who take part in an academic exchange program and are entitled to stay in Austria visa-free, can submit their application for Visa D (for a period of more than 90 but less than 180 days) during their stay in Austria at one of the following embassies nearby:

- Austrian Consulate General Munich/Germany

- Austrian Embassy Bratislava/Slovakia

- Austrian Embassy Ljubljana/Slovenia

Please see the the Embassy of Washington's website for further information on considerations about applying after arrival. All necessary documents should be compiled before arrival. 

 

Full Year Programs (over 6 months) for NON-EU/EEA citizens

Students on a full year program will need to apply for a residence permit.

Citizens of the USA, Australia, and Canada may enter Austria under the visa-free agreement and apply for a residence permit once in-country. However, documents will need to be assembled prior to arrival in Austria, including all necessary Apostilles and verifications. 

Citizens of all other countries need to apply for the residence permit prior to departure at the Austrian embassy or consulate in their country of residence. Please note that the process can take up to three months, so please begin the process as soon as possible at your nearest embassy or consulate. You will be receiving an acceptance letter and residence permit letter to help with the documents required for this permit. 

 

EU/EEA citizens

EU/EEA passport holders may enter Austria with no visa or permit.

 

HEALTH INSURANCE

For ISEP participants going to Austria, full ISEP student health insurance coverage may be waived, as students will be required to purchase student health insurance once on-site according to Austrian law. However, students must still enroll in ISEP's MER (medical evacuation and repatriation) supplemental policy at $8 per month according to the program start and end dates. ISEP also STRONGLY recommends that students purchase full ISEP-health insurance for any period of time before and after program (including dates during pre-session as students are not eligible to enroll in National insurance during pre-session) and dates of travel to and from host site. Students may not be able to receive their visas without proof of full health insurance for any time before the official begin date of their program.

 

RESOURCES

OEAD: Entry, residence and employmentuse the tool to find your checklist for a National Visa D or Residence Permit (begins with choosing your nationality)

Austrian Embassies and Consulates around the world

Study in Austria

Austrian Embassy, Washington - Applying for a Visa D after arrival

 

---------

Updated October 2019

Culture

POPULATION AND RELIGION

Of the approximately 8 million inhabitants of Austria, 98% speak German. The six ethnic groups officially recognized in Austria (Burgenlandic Croatians, Roma, Slovaks, Slovenians, Czechs and Hungarians) are concentrated in the east and south of the country.

Approximately 74% of Austrians are Roman Catholic, 5% are Protestant and the remaining citizens belong to other faiths.

Austria, along with neighboring Switzerland, is the winter sports capital of Europe. However, it is just as popular for summer tourists who visit its historic cities and villages, and hike in the magnificent scenery of the alps.

The average Austrian on the street is likely to be friendly yet somewhat reserved and formal, soft spoken and well mannered. They are law abiding, socially conservative, rooted, family oriented, conformist and somewhat nepotistic.

LANGUAGE

The national language of Austria is German which, in its standard variety, is virtually identical to the German used in Germany, with a few vocabulary differences (many of which are informal) and, in particular, a strong regional accent.

English is widely spoken, and the only area most tourists have linguistic problems with is translating menus.

GREETINGS

From a very early point in life, young Austrians learn to shake hands with adults when greeting. Shaking hands when greeting and parting is an important social courtesy. Next to this gesture, common greetings include Grüß Gott (literally "Greet God"), Guten Morgen ("Good Morning"), Guten Abend ("Good evening") and Auf Wiedersehen ("Good-bye"). Popular casual greetings include Servus ("Hi") and Grüß dich ("Greetings to you"). Also, Austrians do not ask how someone is (Wie geht es Ihnen?) unless they wish to hear a detailed account.

Professional titles are important among the adult population and are used whenever they are known. Otherwise, people combine titles such as Herr (Mr.) and Frau ("Mrs." or "Ms.) with last names when addressing acquaintances and strangers. First names are used among close friends and young people.

GESTURES

Hand gestures are used conservatively in polite company, as verbal communication is preferred. Motioning with the entire hand is more polite than using the index finger. Twisting the index finger at the side of one’s forehead is an insult. People are generally polite and courteous in public. Men often open doors for women and usually help them with their coats. It is impolite for adults to chew gum in public.

VISITING

Austrians are very convivial people. They enjoy entertaining in their homes and having guests. However, note that simply dropping in unannounced is viewed as impolite. Therefore, it is advisable to make arrangements in advance or via telephone ahead of an impromptu visit. When being invited to an Austrian home, make sure to arrive on time since this is very important to Austrians – in their professional as well as in their private lives. It is custom that the invited guests bring flowers, candy or small gifts (such as a handcrafted item or something appropriate for the occasion). This is also common when married children visit their parents. Here are a few tips on handling the gifts: Gifts are exclusively given to the wife, or perhaps the children, but not to the husband – even if the gift is for the family. When presenting the host(s) with flowers, make sure that you only give flowers in odd numbers (for even numbers are considered bad luck). Also, flowers are to be unwrapped before they are being given to the hostess. Giving purchased flowers is more polite than flowers from one’s own garden.

FOOD

Austrians are very well known for their love of good food and they enjoy a very rich and varied cuisine in their homeland. Specialities drawn from cultures of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire include favorites such as Wiener Schnitzel (breaded veal cutlets) from Italy, Kolatsche (a pastry made out of yeast dough) from Bohemia and goulash from Hungary. Traditional Austrian meals begin with a beef-broth soup. Popular soups include Griessnockerlsuppe (soup with small flour dumplings). Goulash is served at most restaurants. Backhendl (fried, breaded chicken) and Knödel (moist dumplings) are also common. Vienna is particularly famous for its cakes and pastries, including apple strudel, Sachertorte (a rich chocolate cake with apricot jam and chocolate icing) and Krapfen (a kind of doughnut filled with jam). Coffee enjoys quite a tradition in the Viennese Coffee Houses; Austrians love to go there at all times of the year to meet friends, talk or just relax.

The contemporary changes in lifestyles have also taken its toll on the eating habits of many Austrians. The tradition in Austria is to eat the main meal around midday. While many Austrians still follow that custom, working people and students now eat the main meal in the evening rather than in the busy periods during the day. This change may have occurred but important traditions while being at the table remain untouched. It is considered polite to keep your hands above the table at all times during a meal, not to gesture with utensils and not to place elbows on the table. It is quite impolite to begin eating until all persons at the table are served. Austrians eat in the continental style, with the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right. When guests are present, the hostess will nearly always offer second helpings but will gracefully accept a polite Danke, nein (Thank you, no).

PAYING

In Austrian restaurants you must ask to pay. Get the attention of your server and say: "zahlen, bitte" (to pay, please). They will then bring you the check, or tell you the amount of the bill verbally. The proper way to pay in Austria is to give your cash and say the amount you wish to pay, including tip. For tipping, it is appropriate to round up, or to round up +50 cents or 1 euro of the cost for each person (should equal about 5-10% for a full meal). Servers are not dependent on tips, and it is not appropriate to tip a large amount. Saying "danke" (thank you) when paying means keep the change! Alternatively, you can say the amount of the bill plus your tip and will only get change above that amount (for instance, if you pay with a €20 bill, the amount is €16.50 and you say "Siebzehn Euro" (seventeen euro), the server will give you €3 change and keep the €0.50 as tip).

Austria is famous for its café culture, and there are coffee houses all over the city, many of which have outdoor terraces that are popular in the summer. Visit them for coffee, hot chocolate and pastries. Most famous is Sacher-Torte.

Daily Life

POPULATION AND RELIGION

Of the approximately 8 million inhabitants of Austria, 98% speak German. The six ethnic groups officially recognized in Austria (Burgenlandic Croatians, Roma, Slovaks, Slovenians, Czechs and Hungarians) are concentrated in the east and south of the country.

Approximately 74% of Austrians are Roman Catholic, 5% are Protestant and the remaining citizens belong to other faiths.

Austria, along with neighboring Switzerland, is the winter sports capital of Europe. However, it is just as popular for summer tourists who visit its historic cities and villages, and hike in the magnificent scenery of the alps.

The average Austrian on the street is likely to be friendly yet somewhat reserved and formal, soft spoken and well mannered. They are law abiding, socially conservative, rooted, family oriented, conformist and somewhat nepotistic.

LANGUAGE

The national language of Austria is German which, in its standard variety, is virtually identical to the German used in Germany, with a few vocabulary differences (many of which are informal) and, in particular, a strong regional accent.

English is widely spoken, and the only area most tourists have linguistic problems with is translating menus.

GREETINGS

From a very early point in life, young Austrians learn to shake hands with adults when greeting. Shaking hands when greeting and parting is an important social courtesy. Next to this gesture, common greetings include Grüß Gott (literally "Greet God"), Guten Morgen ("Good Morning"), Guten Abend ("Good evening") and Auf Wiedersehen ("Good-bye"). Popular casual greetings include Servus ("Hi") and Grüß dich ("Greetings to you"). Also, Austrians do not ask how someone is (Wie geht es Ihnen?) unless they wish to hear a detailed account.

Professional titles are important among the adult population and are used whenever they are known. Otherwise, people combine titles such as Herr (Mr.) and Frau ("Mrs." or "Ms.) with last names when addressing acquaintances and strangers. First names are used among close friends and young people.

GESTURES

Hand gestures are used conservatively in polite company, as verbal communication is preferred. Motioning with the entire hand is more polite than using the index finger. Twisting the index finger at the side of one’s forehead is an insult. People are generally polite and courteous in public. Men often open doors for women and usually help them with their coats. It is impolite for adults to chew gum in public.

VISITING

Austrians are very convivial people. They enjoy entertaining in their homes and having guests. However, note that simply dropping in unannounced is viewed as impolite. Therefore, it is advisable to make arrangements in advance or via telephone ahead of an impromptu visit. When being invited to an Austrian home, make sure to arrive on time since this is very important to Austrians – in their professional as well as in their private lives. It is custom that the invited guests bring flowers, candy or small gifts (such as a handcrafted item or something appropriate for the occasion). This is also common when married children visit their parents. Here are a few tips on handling the gifts: Gifts are exclusively given to the wife, or perhaps the children, but not to the husband – even if the gift is for the family. When presenting the host(s) with flowers, make sure that you only give flowers in odd numbers (for even numbers are considered bad luck). Also, flowers are to be unwrapped before they are being given to the hostess. Giving purchased flowers is more polite than flowers from one’s own garden.

FOOD

Austrians are very well known for their love of good food and they enjoy a very rich and varied cuisine in their homeland. Specialities drawn from cultures of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire include favorites such as Wiener Schnitzel (breaded veal cutlets) from Italy, Kolatsche (a pastry made out of yeast dough) from Bohemia and goulash from Hungary. Traditional Austrian meals begin with a beef-broth soup. Popular soups include Griessnockerlsuppe (soup with small flour dumplings). Goulash is served at most restaurants. Backhendl (fried, breaded chicken) and Knödel (moist dumplings) are also common. Vienna is particularly famous for its cakes and pastries, including apple strudel, Sachertorte (a rich chocolate cake with apricot jam and chocolate icing) and Krapfen (a kind of doughnut filled with jam). Coffee enjoys quite a tradition in the Viennese Coffee Houses; Austrians love to go there at all times of the year to meet friends, talk or just relax.

The contemporary changes in lifestyles have also taken its toll on the eating habits of many Austrians. The tradition in Austria is to eat the main meal around midday. While many Austrians still follow that custom, working people and students now eat the main meal in the evening rather than in the busy periods during the day. This change may have occurred but important traditions while being at the table remain untouched. It is considered polite to keep your hands above the table at all times during a meal, not to gesture with utensils and not to place elbows on the table. It is quite impolite to begin eating until all persons at the table are served. Austrians eat in the continental style, with the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right. When guests are present, the hostess will nearly always offer second helpings but will gracefully accept a polite Danke, nein (Thank you, no).

PAYING

In Austrian restaurants you must ask to pay. Get the attention of your server and say: "zahlen, bitte" (to pay, please). They will then bring you the check, or tell you the amount of the bill verbally. The proper way to pay in Austria is to give your cash and say the amount you wish to pay, including tip. For tipping, it is appropriate to round up, or to round up +50 cents or 1 euro of the cost for each person (should equal about 5-10% for a full meal). Servers are not dependent on tips, and it is not appropriate to tip a large amount. Saying "danke" (thank you) when paying means keep the change! Alternatively, you can say the amount of the bill plus your tip and will only get change above that amount (for instance, if you pay with a €20 bill, the amount is €16.50 and you say "Siebzehn Euro" (seventeen euro), the server will give you €3 change and keep the €0.50 as tip).

Austria is famous for its café culture, and there are coffee houses all over the city, many of which have outdoor terraces that are popular in the summer. Visit them for coffee, hot chocolate and pastries. Most famous is Sacher-Torte.

Health and Safety

Your health and safety is our number one priority. Please read and reference our Guides and Tips section for general information regarding health and safety abroad, and contact your ISEP Program Manager with any questions or concerns as you prepare to study abroad.

- Detailed information about Austria can be found here. Please pay special attention to the Safety and Security, Local Laws and Special Circumstances and Health sections. 

Note: Information sourced on this page is provided by the U.S. Department of State. Non-U.S. nationals should disregard the Embassies and Consulates and Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements sections. 

- Health information for Austria can be found here

 

 

 

 

Currency

MONEY MATTERS

The Euro is the common currency of the European Union.

Stay up to date with the current exchange rate by using this Currency Converter.

The following coins and bills are available in Euros:
Coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 Cent, 1 Euro, 2 Euros
Bills: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 Euros

There are no restrictions as to the amount of money you may bring into Austria. Cash can be exchanged at any Austrian bank without special identification. All banks accept Travelers or Euro-Checks but you will need your passport for identification and may be charged a fee. Most banks are open Monday - Friday, mornings and afternoons but they close for lunch. During other times, you may exchange money at the "Hauptpost" (central post office) or at the "Hauptbahnhof" (main train station). The most widely used credit cards include American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa and they are accepted in most major stores. The Maestro card (EU/EEA countries) allows you to withdraw money from your home bank account while you are in Austria.

Students are advised to ask their home bank if they are in cooperation with a partner institution in Austria. If this is not the case, after their arrival, students should consult several banks in Graz to find out which one offers the best terms and conditions for them. Students should also ask for information about inexpensive ways for international money transfers at their home bank. Usually, the IBAN and the BIC (also called SWIFT) code are necessary for international money transfers, therefore students should ask their home bank about these codes.

For U.S. students, it is probable that the cheapest way of obtaining funds while you are abroad is to use a Cirrus or Plus debit card (and a four digit pin number). This way you can withdraw money from your bank account plus the fee is low, but check with your home bank.

The cost of living in Austria is slightly higher than the European and North American averages. As in most countries, the cost of living varies by region. Rural regions offer cheaper rent and food, but transportation is usually more expensive.

The prices are comparable with Western European countries, and a bit higher than the U.S. because of 20 % sales tax (which is included in the prices).

Be aware that paying by credit card is not as common as in the rest of Europe or as in the United States but all major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners Club) are accepted at almost every gas station and at bigger shops, especially in shopping malls. In smaller towns and villages you normally find one or two small shops or bakeries, which carry nearly everything, called "Greißler."

ATMs

ATMs in Austria are called Bankomat. They are wide-spread and you will find them even in smaller, rural villages. Many shops (and some restaurants) offer the service to pay directly with an ATM card. The majority of ATMs accept cards from abroad. All Bankomats in Austria can easily be identified by a sign showing a green stripe above a blue stripe. It doesn't matter which Bankomat you use; the transaction fee is always zero (excluding any fees charged by your own bank).

Sources of Information

LINKS

http://www.austria.org/
Austrian Press and Information Service, Washington, DC.

http://www.austria-tourism.at/us/
International Web pages of the Austrian National Tourist Office.

http://lcWeb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/attoc.html
Austria: A Country Guide.

http://www.bmaa.gv.at/
Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs Austria.

http://www.help.gv.at/
Austrian Government Agency help site.

http://www.eurail.com/
Euro and Eurail passes.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g190410-Austria-Vacations.html
Austria Trip Advisor

http://www.esn.org/
International Exchange Erasmus Student Network
(Social events for international students)

BIBLIOGRAPHY

*The links below will take you to the Amazon.com Web site for content and purchasing information.


Guides

Austria (Eyewitness Travel Guides)

Fodor's Austria, 11th Edition (Fodor's Gold Guides)

Frommer's Austria (Frommer's Complete)

Lonely Planet Austria

The Rough Guide to Austria 3 (Rough Guide Travel Guides)


Literature

Austrian literature can be divided into two main divisions, namely the period up until the mid-20th century, and the period subsequent, in which both the Austro-Hungarian and German empires were gone. Austria went from being a major European power, to being a small country. In addition, there is a body of literature which some would deem Austrian, but is not written in German.

Complementing its status as a land of artists, Austria is a country where great poets, writers and novelists lived and created their literary works. It was the home of novelists / short-story writers Arthur Schnitzler, Friedrich Halm, Stefan Zweig, Franz Kafka, Thomas Bernhard, Joseph Roth, Ilse Aichinger or Robert Musil, of poets Georg Trakl, Franz Werfel, Franz Grillparzer, Rainer Maria Rilke, Friederike Mayröcker or Adalbert Stifter. Famous contemporary playwrights and novelists are Elfriede Jelinek and Peter Handke.


Culture, History & Politics

The Austrian Mind: An Intellectual and Social History, 1848-1938

The Austrians: A Thousand-Year Odyssey

Thunder at Twilight: Vienna 1913/1914

The Xenophobe's Guide to the Austrians


Traveler's Health

International Travel Health Guide

CDC Health Information for International Travel 2010 (Health Information for International Travel)

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