Austria and Slovenia: Alpine neighbours with intertwined past, present and future

My name is Žiga, born and raised in Maribor, Slovenia and at the moment I am pursuing MSc in Communication Science at the University of Vienna while working at the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. As the story goes, I was always fond of adventures, especially if those adventures included travelling and experiencing unknown.

My first big leap towards studying in a foreign country was during my Bachelor’s studies, when me and my girlfriend Julija decided to go on an ERASMUS exchange for a semester to the University of Lapland, Finland. Having the opportunity to experience international academic sphere, we both agreed that our academic future lies somewhere abroad. Since I’m a bit older than Julija I’ve completed my first Master’s degree in Law and in the meantime Julija completed her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Seeking new challenges while feeding our “wanderlust”, we decided to move to Vienna, Austria where we are currently both pursuing our Master’s degree while working at the same time.

So, the main question that needs to be addressed is; why did we chose Vienna for our studies and work? Usually, Vienna is not a first-choice destination for most Slovenians as majority of Slovenian expats living in Austria tend to stay “closer” to the home; near the Austrian-Slovenian border where Austrian second largest city, Graz is. However, one can notice a lot of Balkan folks around in Vienna, so for those expats who share the memory of former Balkan stew, Yugoslavia, can find a lot of ex-Yugoslavians wondering around the city. So in a way meeting people from Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia certainly evokes some “home” vibes. Moving from Maribor to Vienna was not a big step, geographically speaking, but when it comes to Viennese’s charm, well that’s quite a step, even for those who are experienced travellers.

However, there is no simple answer to why exactly we chose Vienna for our next study destination and a home, and this is mainly because the reasons behind our decision are somewhat intertwined, so there is no single “because” to “why”. Nonetheless, the most prominent reason is that Vienna is considered as the second-best city in the world for people to live in, meaning, that socio-economic standard is higher in comparison to Slovenia, while still being manageable for young expats and students to build a sustainable livelihood. Apart from that, University of Vienna is well known academic-force, with many renown professors and study programmes. So, the decision to enrol into a research degree, focusing on research at the one of the oldest University in Europe, was an easy decision.

Third reason is basically twofold; historical location and geographical location of the Austrian capital city. Vienna is often referred as the cultural melting pot and because of its role throughout history and geographical location, Vienna represents a bridge between Eastern and Western part of the Europe. I would dare to make an argument that its historical role, meeting of cultures and people coming from all parts of the world to work and live in Vienna, fostered high living standards, including scientific advancements, and a good social mobility as education is mostly free for all EU nationals. On top on that, one can find many jobs available for young professionals at the beginning of their careers. And secondly, when it comes to geographical distance, Vienna and my birth town Maribor are not that far from each other; 260 kilometres is the distance that allows you to visit family and friends quite often, and we are always happy to host our friends and family members at our apartment when they drop by to say hello.

In conclusion, Vienna has a lot to offer, both academic and career-wise, and as the saying goes; luck favours the bold. Vienna fits that saying perfectly. After completing our studies, we plan to stay in Vienna a bit longer to develop professionally and to gain more work experience in our domains, but when our “wanderlust” will strike again we’re going to be ready to move somewhere else to pursue our out-of-the-box lifestyle (we might even move to Melbourne, I hear that this city is the World’s most liveable city…).

So, for all those that are still “on the fence” when it comes to studying and working abroad, this quote by Yahya might trigger your first big leap into the world: “I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the Earth, then I ask myself the same question.

And if I may add – use your wings and dare to experience the world as it is, because when “the day” is over, you can always return back home to tell the tale of your adventures in the unknown.

From Indonesia to Austria

I will introduce myself, my name is Rebecca, I’m and Indonesian who is currently pursuing my master degree in Communication Science program, in the University of Vienna.

How did I choose Austria as my destination?

To be honest, it was a mere coincidence. My ultimate aim was to study in a developed western country such as Australia, U.K., U.S.A, or any countries in Europe. I tried to get in to some universities in these countries, some accepted me, and some didn’t. After evaluating all universities who accepted me, I chose Austria, specifically Vienna because I always want to live in a big city where I can have an international environment and meeting new young people, but also not a big nasty metropolitan city such as a city where I lived before (I don’t want to say a name :p). So I thought Vienna is perfect for the criteria that I required.

What are my obstacles getting a place to study in Austria?

Visa, or getting the permission to stay here legally. I kept hating my passport during the visa process because there is a rule that as an Indonesian, I have more things to fulfill compare to people from other nationalities (even from Indonesia’s Asian neighbor countries).

What are my obstacles living in Austria?

There is no tough obstacle other than getting the visa. I feel living here is easy and chilled. I have a good life quality, I can bike in the city (which I never did before), I can spend time with friends, studying, reading. All in all, I feel happy living here.

How do I like Austria so far?

I like it so much. Austria is one of the blessed countries in the world that I’ve ever visited. It has amazing natures like the Alps view in Tyrol and Salzburg, the constellation of the lakes in Carinthia, the old city like Hallstatt, and of course the beautiful capital city, Vienna. I am always thanking God for giving me a chance to live in Vienna, one of the most beautiful capital city and the most livable city in the world.

Special message for anyone who’s still deciding where to study?

Please do study abroad or even overseas (any countries will be good as long as it’s not your country). See more of this world. There are so many things to study and learn from other countries and cultures. It will help you to learn about life, to know yourself, your potential and in the end, you will be a better person who has an open mind and a big heart.



If you want to know more about me and or want to read some stories about my traveling diaries, please visit my blog at 😉