Best place to go with ISEP! Past Review

By (English Language and Literature, Truman State University) - abroad from 02/02/2015 to 07/04/2015 with

ISEP Exchange: Graz - Exchange Program at Karl-Franzens-Universit├Ąt Graz

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
You will grow, learn and change so much. This experience has given me so much self confidence and completely changed my life plans/outlook. It was most definitely worthwhile!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Overall, my educational experience was not that great. With one exception, it was hard to feel engaged in my classes.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Christa, the contact for the international students, is very helpful if you go and talk to her. However, the structure of everything does not make it easy for international students. You will have to figure most things out on your own. You will be given an Austrian buddy to help you with things when you first arrive, but many of the buddies are no or very little help.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I got very lucky with my living arrangements, but it's really a gamble. You will be living in a flat with Austrian students of both genders. I loved my flatmates, but I know many people who did not even talk to their flatmates. If you opt for a roommate, that is also a gamble. My roommate is another American exchange student, and we get along great, but a friend of mine is living with a 30 year old woman who is a student as well. Also, the dorms are not near the university or city center. It is about a 40 minute walk to the university, 30 minutes on the bus or a 20 minute bike ride. In addition, you have limited, wired internet access. You get so much internet per month, which is usually not a problem but still a pain.

* Food:

You will get a food stipend of 300 euro per month. Unless you go out to eat more than once a day, this is plenty of money.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Graz is a university city, so there is great student life, which I definitely felt like I was a part of. I never felt totally integrated though, as I don't speak German.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

You will be required to purchase ISEP insurance and Austrian insurance. It's expensive, but if you get sick/injured, you won't have to pay to go to the doctor or hospital.

* Safety:

Graz is extremely safe. I lived on the "bad" side of the river, and it was still fine - my flatmates and I rarely even lock our door. I never worry about getting anything stolen or my physical safety, even when walking alone at night.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Anywhere the euro is used will be more expensive than in the U.S., but Graz isn't as expensive as some other EU cities. The food stipend will cover your meals. I mostly spend money on alcohol/going out and travel. Obviously the cost of those things will vary for each person.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $70-$100 (but you get a food stipend!)
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? 1. Buy a month long bus pass when you first arrive (if you plan on using public transport) 2. When you can buy a student bus pass, find out how to get the Graz resident discount. 3. Buy a Vortiels card before you leave for Austria to get discounted train tickets. 4. Cook at least some meals at your flat.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

It is recommended to arrive a month early to take a German language course. I also recommend doing this - I learned a few basic Germany phrases, and this is the best way to make friends.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I had no German knowledge before this
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Download Duolingo before you leave & use it

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • 3 week spring break
  • From Austria, you can travel anywhere in Europe
  • It's very easy to make friends with other international students
* What could be improved?
  • Getting a visa should be easier
  • The buddy program needs to be improved!
  • The dorms need unlimited wifi
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Bring an ethernet cord! Also, it will be okay, and you will have the best experience of your life.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Survey of American Literary History - Writing America

Course Department: English Studies
Instructor: Brandt
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This is a lecture class. You will be assessed based on an exam at the end.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Mass Media

Course Department: English Studies
Instructor: Scott
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was extremely easy. It might be good if you know nothing about journalism but not good for a journalism major. It's even easier than the intro to journalism class I took at my home university.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

British Cultural Studies - From the Virgin Queen to the Iron Lady

Course Department: English Studies
Instructor: Kettemann
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was very easy, almost to the point of being boring. You are assessed based on class participation, a very easy group project and a simple paper (about 8 pages).
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

German Intensive Course

Course Department: Center for Language
Instructor: Osterer
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class is very challenging. The professor will speak to you mostly in German. However, the secret is that she passes everyone so long as you show up and participate.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Cultural Studies Seminar - Jewish American Literature and Culture

Course Department: English Studies
Instructor: Brandt
Instruction Language: English
Comments: I was not prepared for this course and did not enjoy it. The professor did not give a good explantation of what was expected of us. You will be assessed based on a paper (10-12 pages) and a presentation, which much last for the entire 1.5 hour class period.
Credit Transfer Issues: