Full name: Maria Gultiano
Home country: Australia
Home institution: Murdoch University
Host institution in Austria: Fachhochschule Salzburg
Study programme: Tourism
Duration of your stay in Austria: 2 semesters
Current position: Student in Bachelor of Tourism at Murdoch University
Why did you choose Austria?
I chose Austria for a number of reasons. The first is that many Australian students who go exchange choose to go to the USA or the UK, so I decided to go somewhere different, I didn't want to be surrounded by other Australians. I wanted to go somewhere in Europe, so that I could travel easily and Austria seemed ideal because of its central location. I am also very interested in learning a second language, and I have wanted to learn German for a very long time. It's not a very common language in Australia, so going on exchange to a German speaking country was ideal.
I had also heard that Austria is a very beautiful place, and I have always wanted to experience nature that is different from Australia’s. On the internet I saw photographs of Austria’s natural resources and thought it would be amazing if I could experience them in person.
Why would you recommend Austria as an interesting study location?
I think it’s a very diverse place, and you have the opportunity to meet lots of different people. For me it was also helpful that a large number of people here can speak English, it meant that my beginner level German didn’t stop me from getting to know lots of interesting people. I think the Austrian culture is very interesting too and it was a lot of fun to experience unique Austrian traditions like the Krampuslauf.
Austria is a country full of rich history, and it’s another thing I really enjoy about it. I love history and thought it was amazing to see old churches, castles and other places, because in Australia these don’t exist.
What did you like about Austria?
I really loved how I felt so close to nature the whole time I’m here. My campus is in a more regional area, so I often see deer and other animals from my bedroom window. I loved that in good weather I could go hiking in the mountains and enjoy the outdoors so easily.
I also liked the people; they were always friendly and really interested to learn about Australia. I was lucky enough to meet some very kind people and was given a lot of opportunities to do things I would never have been able to do otherwise. For example, I got to try on a Krampus costume and learnt how to make Wiener schnitzel.
What were the challenges you had to deal with?
The main challenge I had to deal with was adjusting to a different way of studying and teaching at my host university. It was very different from university at home, but that’s why I went to exchange; to experience a different way of studying.
I also experienced some language difficulties. Even though a lot of people speak English, documents and other things like that aren’t often in English so that made things difficult when I was trying to fill them out. Luckily there were a lot of German speakers around who were willing to help me out.
What else I would like to say
Going on exchange was one of the best decisions I ever made. I was able to experience a completely different way of life and meet lots of amazing people. I made some great friends who’ll last a lifetime, and made my stay in Austria really special.
I learnt some much from the people around me and in turn I was able to teach them things too. I learnt about so many different cultures, not just the Austrian culture, because of the other incomings and international students at my university. I also learnt a lot about myself and I really feel as though my stay here has changed me for the better.
Being so far away from home showed me just how big the world is, and how little I really know about it. Meeting people from all over the world made me want to travel even more and visit the home countries of my new friends.
When I go home I won’t be the same person who left. There is no other experience that compares to being an exchange student.