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

Types of University Degrees
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 allow 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.
Registration and Credit Issues
You will register for individual classes with the aid of the international office. In most situations you will register for each course at the institute that specializes in the target field of study.
Please note that courses will not be available for registering until shortly before the semester begins.
A Transcript of Records contains the grades of all successfully completed courses. You will typically be able to enroll in a variety of courses. However, prerequisites for all courses must be met before the time of enrollment.

Choosing Courses
Please see the ISEP Guide to Courses for Austria and Germany.

Examinations and Grading Scale

Examinations can take the form of oral and written exams, project work or artistic projects. Depending on the specific purpose of the various orals, they are subdivided into supplementary examinations, final examinations, bachelor, master's, diploma examinations and doctoral examinations (Rigorosum) for doctoral degree (in the form of course examinations, Fachprüfungen or comprehensive exams); with reference to 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 are single subject examinations, i.e. end-of-semester or continuous assessment-based examinations in the individual courses which they attend. 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 university homepage.

The Austrian grading scale is similar to the U.S. system except 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.

What to Expect
Independent, self-directed study is heavily emphasized at Austrian insititutions. 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.

Visa and Residency

STUDENT VISA/RESIDENCE PERMIT

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.

PLEASE NOTE:
The visa information presented on this page is for U.S. residents only. If you reside outside the U.S. please contact the responsible Austrian Embassy or Consulate in your country.

Students traveling to Austria for one semester need to obtain the D-Visa prior to departure. A residency permit is required for study longer than six months (full year students only).

Applications must be submitted in person if you reside in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia or Delaware. In some cases, personal appearances may be required regardless of where you reside. Visas can only be processed once all supporting documents have been received. Applications will be returned if supporting documents are missing.

Students from the U.S. and Canada who take part in an academic exchange program are entitled to enter Austria visa-free, and 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 the Austrian Consulate General Munich, Germany, the Austrian Embassy Bratislava, Slovakia, or the Austrian Embassy Ljubljana, Slovenia. For more information on applying for a visa after your departure from the U.S. or Canada, please click here

Visas for Applicants who go to Austria to Study
Required Documents For a Stay Up To Six Months:

  • Completed and signed Austrian National Visa (Visa D) 
  • Two passport size photographs (not a snapshot)
  • Your passport - must be valid for at least another three months after the intended date of travel
  • Letter of admission issued by Austrian school, university or organization and by your university in the US in case of an exchange program
  • Proof of Fulbright Grant (if applicable; original version is required)
  • Proof of lodging (from host institution)
  • Proof of medical insurance - this is a letter from host institution verifying coverage upon arrival as well as valid health insurance for the duration of travel from home to host site (ISEP recommends purchase of full ISEP insurance for this period of travel)
  • ISEP students are required to purchase MEDEX insurance for duration of stay, but this is NOT sufficient proof of insurance to obtain a visa.
  • Proof of sufficient funds (bank statement - for students up to 24 years old, at least 427 Euro), – letter from host institution
  • Notarized letter signed by one or both of your parents declaring financial responsibility (not required if you are able to show proof of sufficient funds yourself). Please attach their latest bank or income statement to this letter.
  • Copy of your itinerary or round trip ticket
  • Consular fee will apply. Please refer to the following Consular Fees website as costs may vary monthly due to exchange rate. Payment must be made in USD per money order (payable to Embassy of Austria) or cash (exact change only).

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

https://www.isepstudyabroad.org/guides-and-tips/health-safety

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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