Monday, January 11, 2010

Erasmus in Innsbruck

Hi everybody!

As you may know, during the first semester Elodie and I were the first privileged students to spend an Erasmus in Innsbruck, Austria. And believe me, it was worth doing it!

To be honest, it was quite frightening to know that nobody from our faculty had been to Innsbruck before us. You know, the unknown is always scary… nobody to advice us or to tell us what it was like… but it was part of the adventure! But now the next students who will go over there will be lucky enough to have two advisers… So the first thing to do, in my opinion, is to look for a student room. I answered to a few ads on the Internet and was lucky enough to find an all-inclusive accommodation with two other Austrian girls; the perfect match! Then the second question to answer is how to get there? Innsbruck is not Leuven or Köln, you need about 7 hours to get there by car. But as I couldn't limit myself to a 20 kg package, I had no other choice. So on September 30th I left my little village in the centre of the Ardennes for the big adventure…

I had already been twice in Austria, but I was still amazed by the view of the first mountains we saw. But then, as we entered Innsbruck, the shock! My first impression was of an industrial city, all surrounded by huge malls and estates… really disappointing. However, later that day, we walked through the town and discovered by chance the "old city", and then all my doubts flew away.

Now, what I would recommend you is to come to your "adoptive country" far earlier than I did. The reason is simple: you will not have time to do everything you want and you will see time flying away before realising that your Erasmus is already over. In addition the first weeks in your new country are often perilous; you don't know anybody, you've a lot of administrative papers to complete and you don't have time to get to know new people… so you'll probably feel down at the beginning. But cheer up! A lot of other students are in the same case as you and are just waiting to get to know you. If you go to Innsbruck I would recommend you to take part in the ESN. This group is the Erasmus Student Network, which organizes a lot of activities for Erasmus students and can also find you a buddy, who will help you through your stay. So don't hesitate! Another way of meeting new people is to go to a "Stammtisch" (conversation table). Elodie and I decided to try the English one, which took place every Wednesday in an Irish pub (The Galway Bay). I think it was the best choice we made there. Firstly, it helped us to improve our English and secondly we met absolutely nice people over there, with whom we had great fun and not only during the conversation table.

You may wonder what there is to do in a small town like Innsbruck. Well… a lot! Innsbruck is a historically rich town with a lot of museums and places to visit (e.g. Goldenes Dachl, Kaiserliche Hofburg, Hofkirche, Volksmuseum, Stadtturm, Hofgarten,...). This town was also the centre of Olympian games a few years ago, so you can also visit the Olympic springboard. There are also the famous Alpine Zoo, Schloss Ambras and the "Swarovski Kristallwelten". Innsbruck is not really far from München so I took the opportunity to go to the "Oktoberfest" and see a football game, and I think it won't be the last time I go there… If you get tired of Innsbruck and want to see something else you can also rent a car; there are a lot of beautiful places in the surroundings (Salzburg, Neuschwanstein, Igls, Seefeld,...). And of course, the reason why most of people come to Innsbruck: the snow! Snowboarding, skiing, ice-skating, sledging, bobsleighing… the choice is yours! In addition, there are wonderful "Christkindlmärkte" (Christmas markets) with a lot of Glühwein and delicious things to eat!

I think the most important things have been said… While I'm writing I'm still in Innsbruck, two weeks left before coming back in Namur. What I can say of this experience right now is that it was one of the best of my life. Don't think you will come back from an Erasmus being bilingual, you're deceiving yourself. But it will help you, not only in the language you're studying but also in your personal life. You'll meet new people, discover a new way of living and thinking and make experiences you can't make by staying in your home country. Four months is not a lot, so don't hesitate and make the most of every day!



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Julia Gonzalez Perez said...

Gracias por las recomendaciones, buscaré una residencia de estudiantes en Innsbruck, un saludo