Erasmus in “Košice”

I often get asked about the reasons why I have chosen Vienna as my Erasmus destination – it is far from being exotic and it is also three times closer to Prague compared to Rotterdam.

Once I was even told it entails about the same degree of cultural shock as if I went for an exchange to Košice (which I could hardly agree with, considering that a semester in Košice would certainly be less costly…). Nevertheless, it is exactly this relative cultural and geographical closeness to Prague that attracted me to Vienna. I enjoy looking for contrasts between the two cities since they have a common history and starting conditions and yet a considerably different levels of quality of life according to various rankings that usually favor Vienna. It is hard to judge whether this is actually the case, however, I have already noticed several discrepancies between the two cities, especially when it comes to important issues on a societal level. One of them certainly is how early the Christmas mood hits the city.

A slippery layer of slowly decomposing leaves that covers the pavements all around the city suggests that fall is peaking in Vienna right now. I was thus quite perplexed when a huge Christmas market grew up in one of the university campus’ courtyards in the first week of November. Finding your way to the lecture hall between a Ferris wheel and a nativity scene with a live donkey, pony and a cow does have something to it (not to mention the chance to enjoy a cup of warm punch right after a rather long evening lecture), nevertheless, I would still consider this a rather premature development. I understand that it will not be possible to avoid the Advent atmosphere in the coming weeks, especially here in Vienna, but for now I would just prefer if the whole city did not surrender to the Christmas fever just yet – it would only remind me how fast the time flies.

It is hard to believe that one third of my stay is already gone – the school has just started a few weeks ago. Even though the beginnings were gentle, it took me some time to get used to sitting at lectures after “holidays” of almost six months again.  Nevertheless, everything is stabilized now and it seems I will easily deal even with the fact I have accidentally chosen all my subjects on a master’s level. I certainly do not regret that, since they are mostly more interesting compared to the theoretical courses on a bachelor level I had already enough of in Rotterdam. In one of the courses our teams cooperate on a real research project of our professor focused on protection of journalists – we explore databases of killed journalists to discover trends and patterns within them. I enjoy this sort of data analysis, as it comes with a pleasant feeling of this work being actually used by someone later on and thus being more meaningful than outputs of most of the other courses, that usually end with teacher’s grading and a subsequent deletion from a computer. This way we are certainly more motivated to deliver top quality performance.

When I was deciding whether to pursue an exchange a year ago, I was first thinking there is no reason for it – as an international student I sometimes still feel a bit like on Erasmus. In the end I have changed my mind and I do not regret it one bit. Among other things, this stay has so far proved me that I am more adjustable than before – I can cope with moving from one country to another more easily and my mostly introverted self understands better that it is always beneficial to open oneself to new experiences as well as to new people. I am certain those are skills will never cease to be useful in the coming years.

Sun setting over Schönbrunn – certainly better than Košice.


Erasmus v „Košicích“

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