Experience report I. GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE SCHOOL

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1 Experience report Study Program: Organization Studies (master) Exchange Semester: Spring 2016 Academic Year: Host University: Leopold Franzens University Innsbruck Country: Austria I. GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE SCHOOL Innsbruck For my exchange I had the possibility to study in Innsbruck, one of the greater city s of Austria. They call Innsbruck the capital of the Alps. The reason why they call it the city of the Alps becomes clear as soon as you arrive in Innsbruck. Mountains as far you can look. In the beginning they all seem alike but after a while you start recognizing the different kind of mountains with their different kind of nature and scenery. Besides the great environment there is also a great city to explore. First of all you have the old town, which is very beautiful with the golden roof as the main tourist attraction, but also really nice restaurants with local food and of course the great specialty of Austria: Strudel. A great place to go and eat is for example L Osteria. During the week this place is packed with students. At L Osteria they have the biggest pizza s I have ever seen for just a small price. Of course they also have a lot of other dishes. They basically have something for everybody (if you want to go and eat there with a bigger group it is advisable to reserve). Besides the old town you have the more modern city center, with two big shopping malls and great small streets with shops, bars and restaurants. More on the outside of the city you have an even greater shopping mall and an Ikea, which is very beneficial. Innsbruck has a population of about inhabitants of which are student. This means that the city is always very lively and very active all during the week. Because there are so many students the amenities within the city are great with a lot of supermarkets, bars, cafes and activities. In Innsbruck they are focused on living an active live so people go skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer. But if you are not interested there are a lot of different sports you can choose to do. The University of Innsbruck has its own sports center (USI, Universitat Sportinsitut Innsbruck) that offers over 60 sports each year. For 20 to 30 euro s you can do one course for one semester. The city has a little bit of everything you can be really active up in the mountains (recommended!) but also enjoy a student life in the city center. For an evening out go club aftershave or Hofgarten or check out Jimmy s. If you just want to get a drink the Irish pub or the Wettercafe is really nice or for a great experience go up to the 360 bar. Also there are some great events depending on what semester you are going. In the summer you have ugly skiing day at Axamer Lizum or the closing of the skiing season up in the mountains at cloud 9. Just keep watching online where all the events are posted. The university of Innsbruck The university of Innsbruck does not have a campus like we know it in Tilburg. Instead of having every faculty together on one great campus the different faculties are divided all over the city. For all social sciences studies like organization studies or sociology etc. you are located at the SoWi (Soziale Wissenschaften), which can be

2 found just behind the old town. The building is very modern and has everything you need like a library, canteen with great coffee. You will also find a small supermarket, bakery and some restaurants as well as the popular student café of the SoWi. The main university building is about a 20-minute walk from the SoWi. Since Innsbruck is relatively compact you can easily walk everything. During this summer semester there are about 120 exchange students. These are mainly bachelor students. There where only five master students in my semester. However, this gives you a great opportunity to meet the locals, which is really great! II. PRACTICAL INFORMATION Information before leaving Innsbruck University is really used to having exchange students so their process is very clear. Personally I was quite late with applying because I only decided in a later stage that I wanted to go abroad. However, after having being accepted to do the exchange I immediately got an from the host university with information of the subscribing process and basically everything else. They will have an answer to every question and are always open to give you the information you need. They do however expect you to read all the information carefully because most of your questions are literally answered in the information . Visa procedure and arrival When coming to Innsbruck there is not really someone who will pick you up from the airport or train station or something. However, in the loads of information you get before coming to Innsbruck it is easy to fin everything (also because the city is not that big). As new student you will have to do a few things to get installed in Innsbruck the information is given to you way in advance. I arrived some time before the start of the semester to get installed in my room and get a little used to the environment. This is really recommended, it will allow you to really enjoy the start of the semester and meeting people instead of getting all the formal things done. In the week before the beginning of the semester a welcome is organized by the exchange officer (also the one who sends you all the information). During this welcome you will hear more information about the city, skiing, courses etc. you can also ask all the questions you might still have. Our officer already knew our names and studies so I really felt very welcome. Orientation/introduction activities Also in the week before the start of the semester there is a guided tour at the university and also a welcome organized by ESN. In the welcome by ESN you will get information on all the activities the coming semester. Afterwards there is time to drink something with all the exchange students from all faculties. There is also a possibility to get a buddy. This is a local student who will help you get installed and make you feel at home. Personally I did not do this but I know from other experiences it is a lot of to have a buddy, definitely in the beginning of the semester.

3 Housing I organized my own housing. Through a few sites you can easily find a room online on the website of Tilburg university as well as Innsbruck university. I do recommend to start your search as early as possible so you can choose your room and location. The longer you wait the further away you will get from the city center and the more you will probably have to pay. I had a great, shared room at the ISH which is especially for exchange students (mind you, I got lucky because someone cancelled their room so start early!) I used this website: Living costs Apart from the grant you receive from Tilburg University I had saved up quite some money before leaving for Innsbruck. It is possible to work in Innsbruck in the time you live there but then you really have to master the German language. The living expenses are quite similar to the costs in the Netherlands apart from meet. This is quite expensive and if you want to buy it you will have to buy it in large amounts (not very convenient for students). Most of my money went to outdoor activities like skiing, hiking and visiting all kinds of museums and Olympiapark. If you like to ski or hike it is wise to get the Freizeit ticket that will enable you to go up in the mountains for a certain amount of money (different every year). This is approximately my monthly budget: Housing 340 Food 150 Transport 20 Books - Miscellaneous 100 (without skiing pass) Academic Calendar The official start of the academic year or at least the summer semester was quite late, in the beginning of March. However, in the week before the start of the semester there is a week of getting to know the school and your fellow exchange students (bachelor and master). Once the semester started courses where started quite fast. Still the schedule of courses is very beneficial. Instead of three courses at a time you have one course in a very intense way for about 4 to 5 weeks. After these weeks there is an examination, which you will have plenty of time to study for. Only after this exam you will start another course. In the summer semester you have a long two-week Easter break since Austria is still quite traditional in this. This time is great to get to know the surroundings and do some travelling. The international Office As mentioned before Innsbruck University has a great international office. Even before arriving you will have a clear image of whom you can contact if necessary. Especially in the beginning the international office is always open for the exchange students. Later on there are some opening hours you need to respect but these are quite broad so it is easy to get in touch. Also if you send an you would get a reply the same day. The amount of information you get is just right. It looks like it is a lot but it is everything you will need and want to know.

4 Exchange Promotion I did not do specific action to promote Tilburg University other then doing my job as a student but also be open to the other local students and other exchange students. Social Activities ESN does organize a few activities but for master students are planned on completely wrong dates. Also the activities are not really that interesting. Do not lean on these activities too much to have fun. Even though they say Austrians are quite closed up people. Definitely not everyone is that way. I was invited to go for drinks with some of them on the first day and this openness and friendliness did not change for the rest of the semester. Just be open to them they will be open to you. It is great to get to know the locals because they know all the great places and they are proud people so they will love to show the city and the surroundings! Also to bond with the other exchange students is great. They are in the same position as you wanting to meet a lot of people to have fun with. With some of these exchange students I went to Munich and Milan, which was really fun. Innsbruck is a really central position so enjoy and go and see everything. There will always be someone who wants to join. Culture and Language I did not really experience a culture shock. There were a few surprises like some Austrians being quite closed in the beginning and only opening up after some time. And also the views and opinions of Austrians differ somewhat from us. They are more black and white. There is not really grey in between. In the time I was in Austria there were elections. The discussions about this really went quite deep. I was surprised with their statements and firmness of their views. Another part I needed to get used to, was that women are not as entitled to go as far and do as much as men yet. Other than this there were not really big changes between the cultures. The culture is still quite similar to ours; some things are just still a little bit more, old fashioned than what we know. Still Austrians are really proud of their country and love to tell you about it so that is always the right way to go! Concerning the language in Innsbruck it is officially German. However, in Tirol they speak with quite a strong accent, which makes it very hard to understand sometimes. In the beginning I spoke mostly English but after a while knowing the people better I sometimes switched to German (they can easily speak German sometimes they just do not want to). They do not mind whether you speak English or German they know both languages perfectly well. The only place they find it hard to speak English is in the department stores or supermarkets so in that case it is good to know the basics. Personal Development I have learned so much from this exchange. First of all I am now much more open about different views and opinions and I have a lot more patience listening to other ideas. I have made so many great connections. People that even now being back home I still talk to almost every day and even visit now and then. In the sense of future career possibilities it is of course always good to have other experience than just your studies. But it does not only look nice on your resume, it also helps my own understanding of others. Also I have learned so much about myself, living on my own in a foreign country, which I cannot describe but it will help you later on. The people I have met in Innsbruck have shown me more about who I am and what I can and cannot do. For me it is hard to name my best and worst experience. I do not think I really had a bad experience other than maybe the fact that the activities

5 organized by the ESN were not al that great. And best experience there are so many great experiences. I cannot name one everything together made this exchange so great. If I really had to name one thing it would be the people I have met. They made this experience to what it was. That is probably also what I will never forget about this exchange. I always new I wanted to go abroad, but now I know I am not limited to the Netherlands anymore. I can go anywhere I want and still have a good and successful time. III. ACADEMIC INFORMATION Academic level at a host university Innsbruck University offers their courses mainly in English (master). However, there are some courses in German if you really would be interested in that. I did not do a language course because I was not interested in doing a German course and I already know the basics. I changed my courses during my exchange because some of the courses I choose initially where colliding with each other. The courses I choose were mainly based on what I already had in Tilburg and especially on what not. I missed a few aspects in my studies that where in fact taught in Innsbruck. A course that I would strongly recommend is Ethics in Organizations. Even though it sounds very boring it was actually the most interesting course I have had. The cases we have had made the course really interesting but also challenging and personally I like a challenge. The way they teach in Innsbruck is somewhat different from the way they do in Tilburg. In Innsbruck you discuss the literature much more. They teach you not to take things as they are on first sight. You learn to be much more critical and also use the theory in practice. This was a nice balance. The courses are build up in two parts: a lecture part in which you have to write a paper on the literature that was given and the points of view that were discussed in the lectures. The second part is the interactive part. This means you are divided into workgroups and attend seminars. With your group you will have to present one of the many subjects that are included in the seminars. Every course is wrapped up by one day of case study combining both the lectures and seminars. This made it very interesting and very easy to stay into the subjects of the courses. All my professors have been really friendly. They do expect you to read the material and come prepared and want you to be on time but other than that they are really enthusiastic. I thought they would be very formal but this was not the case at all. Overall, I am very happy with the courses I choose and the things I have done in every course were challenging, interesting and fun. Exams The exams, I found easier in Innsbruck than in Tilburg. We know exams of three hour. The longest exam in Innsbruck was one hour and you had the possibility to choose 3 questions from 4 possible questions. The questions were more focused on opinions and less on the literal points mentioned in the articles (personally I liked this a lot).

6 Other Exchange students can easily access the library, computer accounts and use all the campus amenities. Description of Courses Course Prerequisites / None Ethics in organizations Exam ECTS Written exam, 10 ECTS Group paper/presentation, Individual paper, Small assignments / None Organizational Dynamics and Change Written exam, 10 ECTS Individual paper, Group Presentation, Group Assignment Written exam, 10 ECTS Group presentation, Individual paper Interventions in Organizations None Comments Very interesting and challenging course Tips for future Students Just go and have fun. Try to get all the formal stuff done as soon as possible so you can enjoy a great exchange period. ENJOY AND HAVE FUN!!

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