Linnea Hill, Social Work Student, FH Vorarlberg – University of Applied Science, Austria (in English)

My name is Linnea Hill, and in the spring semester of 2017, I and two classmates went on an exchange semester to Dornbirn, Austria. All three of us is currently studying Socionomprogrammet at Jönköping University, and we are going to start our fifth semester this autumn. In Dornbirn we studied social work at FH Vorarlberg – University of Applied Science, a university with only around 1300 students.

In the beginning of my studies at Jönköping University I wasn’t sure about if I wanted to study abroad or not, or if I was even ready to study abroad yet. But I and my classmates decided together that we should take this opportunity that Jönköping University is giving us, and go abroad for one semester to see other things and to spread our wings. All three of us loves nature so Dornbirn, that is only 20 minutes from the border of both Germany and Switzerland, was the perfect choice with the closeness to both nature and other countries. We also got it recommended from the coordinator from our home university to go there. Dornbirn is a small city with around 45 000 citizens, but if you like to be close to really beautiful nature and be able to travel to other counties and cities in Europe, Dornbirn is the perfect choice for you.

 The choice of courses for us exchange students was not that big, since not many courses is in English. However the courses that we could chose was “Innovative Methods”, “Transnational Project Work and Development Cooperation”, “European and International Social Policies”, “Social Work as a Human Rights Profession”, “Intercultural Dialogue” and “Gender and Diversity Training”. First I thought that every course would be really hard and that the teachers would be tough, but it was the opposite. Once you got a hang on how their school system works it was easier to adopt to another way of thinking when it comes to studying. First it felt like we had a lot of assignments to do, but in reality we had a lot of free time since we only had class once or twice per week. So we had a lot of time to travel and experience the Austrian nature. Also the Austrian students was really welcoming to us incomings, and we had the chance to get to learn them since we had almost every course with the students that is studying the 4th semester in Social Work. Since FH Vorarlberg is a really small school, if you compare to Jönköping University, the relationship between the teachers (and other stuff members) and the students was really good since everyone (almost) know everyone.

One of the best thing with Dornbirn and FH Vorarlberg is the people that works at the international office. Before the exchange they help with everything you need, for example with accommodation. Then during our semester they helped us whenever we needed the help, for example if we had problem with a course. They also always send an email whenever there was a feast day, since all the shops are closed on both Sundays and feast days, and that helped us a lot when it comes to planning our grocery shopping. They also helped, for example, with our courses, when we wanted to change them or add one, or with the schedule. Overall the international office was really helpful, and without them our exchange semester would be so much harder, because if truth would be told we would be a little bit lost without them.

When it comes to accommodations there is two options to live in Dornbirn. First one is the Erasmus House, where 24 people live together in 9 different shared flats. You either share a flat with 1 or 2 other people, and you share bathroom and kitchen together. The Erasmus House is where all the parties are, since it has a big common room where everyone can get together and enjoy everyone’s company. The other option to live is in Kolpinghouse, where you share a small flat with only a bathroom with 1 other person. The kitchen it shared with all the other residents. Kolpinghouse is a bit cheaper than Erasmus house, but you don’t have your own kitchen and it is a bit smaller, and you also live with other residents that is not exchange students.

The prices in Austria is pretty much the same as in Sweden. Eating out at restaurants is a bit cheaper, and of course also the alcohol. But other than that everything cost pretty much the same as in Sweden. The transportation system is, in my opinion, a bit better in Austria than in Sweden, and the prices is not that bad if you want to travel to nearby cities or countries.

Overall my exchange semester in Dornbirn has been my best semester so far, and the top 5 best months in life. All the people you meet. All the friends you will never forget. All the trips you have done. All the places you have been falling in love with. Everything with my exchange semester has made my life richer and more colorful. It made me fall in love - both with the people and with the nature. So one thing is clear – if you are unsure of whether to go on an exchange semester or not, take the opportunity and explore a new country. And most of all, take the opportunity to explore yourself, because you are going to learn so much about yourself that you didn’t know before.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me. My email is: