IES Abroad Vienna - European Society & Culture

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Open to students at all language levels, our program brings more than 60 years of experience to a variety of unique courses taught by faculty from top European institutions. Courses are clustered into the following topics: German Language, European Business, Economics, and Politics, Society and Self, The Arts.

Can you imagine learning about Freud’s theories of psychoanalysis and then touring his home and the office where he practiced? Or studying politics and international organizations and visiting the UN, the OSCE, or OPEC? How about exploring art history in Vienna’s world-famous galleries and museums? Wherever possible our courses take advantage of the city’s historical, artistic, and cultural sites and include a hands-on, practical component.

With sufficient background in German, you can also enroll in courses at the prestigious Universität Wien, where you experience the Austrian education system and have the option to participate in student activities.

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Questions & Answers


based on 35 reviews
  • Academics 7.3
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9.2
  • Housing 9
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 31 - 35 of 35
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Wien is a Wien-ner

Mention Vienna to most Americans and they think Italy. Mention Austria to others and they gush about koalas. These people are missing out on knowledge about one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Studying abroad in Austria was such an amazing experience. I find that everyday, I look back on my experience and smile about one thing or another, whether it is the new language I learned or the amazing people I met, not only from America, but from Austria, Chile, France, Italy, and Germany.

This was my first experience in Europe. Vienna itself is a gorgeous, clean city with easy to navigate public transportation and some amazing museums and buildings. In terms of travelling, Vienna is that wonderful border right between Eastern and Western Europe. Its citizens speak German, but they are pretty fluent with English as well. Crime is low and politeness is high.

In Vienna, I learned more about living on my own, away from my usual support systems but still supported. The important message to take from abroad is not the classes you take, although they can really add to your trip and teach you a lot about the culture, but to learn to survive in and accept a culture that is different from your own. With the resources provided by the program, it is an easy thing to do. I would highly recommend the teaching internships offered, where you go into Austrian schools and learn firsthand about the average life of a person who may not be too much younger than you and come to understand the similarities and differences between your life and theirs.

Ich vermisse Wien!

How can this program be improved?
More organized professors, and more German class to learn the language better.
Yes, I recommend
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The City You Cannot Miss: Vienna

After two trips abroad during high school, I knew I wanted to study abroad during college. I initially only considered traveling to Germany, because of my interest in their culture and language. On a whim I looked into Vienna, Austria. I knew absolutely nothing about the city of Vienna, except for the fact that a friend from high school was also considering studying there for a semester. I researched the courses offered and realized the program in Vienna had far more options that were viable for my major. I applied and was accepted. I was excited about my upcoming semester but not thrilled. I left the country with absolutely no expectations and did not really know what to expect in the slightest. My four months abroad turned into the most incredible and rewarding months of my life.

By entering the program with no prior knowledge of the customs, history or the like, I embraced learning as much as possible about everything. Austrian history, customs, the people, the architecture, the culture, and of course the language. I could not get enough of it. Everyday was a new opportunity to meet new people, see new things and practice my German. Our program motto was "squeeze the juice" meaning make the most of everything. I definitely took this mantra to heart and experienced so many things. Before my semester abroad, I always played it safe. I was not a risk taker. I didn't really like to step out of my comfort zone often. Being abroad changed that. Sometimes I didn't have any choice. Almost everyday I had to face my fears and speak German. Even though I've studied the language for years, actually speaking with Austrians was incredibly daunting, especially for me and my lack of self-confidence. Yet each day I persisted and continued to practice.

Through two other classes taught in German, my vocabulary and confidence grew. The classes themselves were neither easy nor extremely difficult, however the fact that three of mine were in a different language did make it more challenging. I love reflecting that I actually was able to take, understand (mostly) and participate in those classes taught in German. Since the group of us that took classes in German was rather small, we all quickly became friends. That group of people plus my four roommates was my family. Since I go to school across the country, it didn't bother me being away from my actual family. Yet being abroad was different. I think we all felt that way and became our own family unit. We supported one another and developed bonds much deeper than common friendship. We traveled to foreign countries together, tried new foods, attempted to navigate new places and faced our fears all together. One of the greatest things about Europe is how easy it is to travel. It was surreal to simply board a bus and take a day trip to Slovakia. Or travel by the night train from Krakow to Prague during a mid semester break. Europe is vastly different from the US and the time I spent there was unforgettable.

The Institute for International Education of Students (IES) was a pivotal aspect of my experience abroad. Their dedication to the students enabled us to fully embrace our new home while abroad. Everything about the program is so well thought out and it is absolutely evident how much they care for each and every student. From orientation in the Austrian Alps to intensive German class, everything served a vital purpose. After over a semester without taking German, and learning Italian in between, I for one greatly appreciated the three weeks of intensive German at the beginning of the program. It was an excellent way to refresh those of us who had already taken the language and served as a crash course for those who were just beginners. Through the many extracurricular activities planned by IES and the student forum, we also had the opportunity to really explore Vienna. A scavenger hunt throughout the city really tested our knowledge of the city and gave us a chance to demonstrate how much we had already learned. Even the courses are designed to teach you about Vienna and Austria. I would never have learned as much as I did if I had not enrolled in classes such as Österreich in Text und Film (Austria in Text and Film), Kulturgeschichte Österreichs (Cultural Heritage of Austria), or Comparative Eastern European Literature. My internship at a local elementary school further enriched my learnings of Viennese culture, because it allowed me to work directly with students and teachers. The differences between the American and Austrian education systems are striking. Not only did I gain valuable experience in a classroom, but also I was able to observe the educational hemisphere of another country. Lastly, the opportunity to take courses in German was one of my primary motivations to study abroad. I elected to take two additional classes in German, besides the required German language course. I loved waking up everyday and attending class taught in another language. The professors at IES are very patient and completely understand the fact that German is not our first language. Yet they still managed to challenge us. I do believe my abilities improved greatly while there. And one of the best parts was that I loved attending the classes, especially those taught in German.

The teachers, student assistants and program leaders were exceptional. Class sizes were small, especially those that I took taught in German. That enabled the teachers to develop a deeper one on one relationship with us, the students. For example, before a German test, my teacher noticed I was having trouble with the material. I sought extra help and she continued to work with me until I understood it. Even right before the test, she made sure I understood it all and was constantly willing to help. The teachers always made themselves available, whether in person or via email. The student assistants were also an important part of the program. Not only did they run the information desk on the ground floor of our school, but they were our go-to people when we had questions. Whether you needed school supplies, or the location of an inexpensive hairdresser, they had the answer. And if they didn't know right away, they would find out and get back to you. They were an additional aid for everyone to become acclimated with Vienna. The IES program administrators were fantastic. I never felt like I was making important decision on my own. They guided us through registration and class selection. They were a constant presence at school and IES events, and the program would not be nearly as successful without them.

Clearly, if you have read my review, you can see I literally can go on and on about my experience. Don't just take my word for it, but go out there and make your own memories! And where else could be a better place than Vienna?!

Yes, I recommend
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A Most Remarkable Semester

I always knew I wanted to study abroad. As my junior year in college approached, I felt compelled to study abroad to fulfill my desire for exploration, to learn the decorum of another culture, and to expand my knowledge of international politics and affairs. It was a plan that seemed cemented in my future, something I had penciled into my life as early as elementary school. Before going abroad I was told by numerous sources that I was going to return a changed person, with a novel outlook on life. This was a change I hoped for, however I was skeptical of how different I would actually be upon my return. Never before had I ever felt drastically different, so I was not sure what this “new me” would feel like. Now that I am back from studying abroad, I can confidently say going abroad changed how I view myself, how I view others, and allowed me to realize my true passion.

That is the beginning of a paper upon my return to UC Santa Barbara. It is a true testimate to the fact that I cannot get Vienna off of my mind. It was an extraordinary trip in which I met some of my best friends, both American and Austrian, and learned so much about a culture I previously knew nothing about. The staff were also incredibly warm and inviting, and were constantly planning fun activities for us. This was also the first time I have ever lived in a big city, not to mention on my own, and I felt safe and at home in Vienna. Going abroad honestly does change you, and I cannot wait to return to the beautiful city!

Yes, I recommend
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Great program for new traveller!

IES Vienna was a great program to start off my international traveling. They have a wonderful staff who helps you every step of the way, and even has a lot of fun with you! Vienna is consistently the safest city in the world, and ranked the best city to live in, and it's obvious why. The city is magnificently clean and I did not feel unsafe once during my entire stay. The other great thing about Vienna is it's location in Europe. Because it is in Central Europe, it makes for easy, short trips to so many different countries! And generally it is a lot cheaper, too! The program is for music students as well as cultural students, so you get a really great mix of people in the program, and for those of us who are less musical, you get to hear some really great music from your friends! The apartments are really great, and if there are any issues, the staff is there, willing to help. The classes are a little harder than the general study abroad type courses, but it creates a challenge that is worth it, because you get to learn so much. Overall Vienna is a city to die for, and you would be making a mistake not to choose this program!

Yes, I recommend
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#1 city in the world to live in? Don't mind if I do!

Yup, Vienna, Austria was voted this year, for the third time in a row, as the top city to live in in the world. It's easy to understand why the minute you step foot there - you'll see it in the kind Viennese, classy architecture, amazing food, clean transportation, diverse ambience - the list can go on forever. I could literally sit here and write for hours about my four month long study abroad experience there, but I will share a few highlights. My negative experiences are easier to relate, because they were literally limited to 1) feeling homesick for only a week (in the last month abroad) and 2) to be quite honest, not wanting to leave Vienna. My study abroad program, IES, was simply phenomenal. They provided a wide range of courses, with amazing professors, and when I had a major conflict with a class (that could have deterred me from graduating), the advising counselor and teacher did everything in their power to help me - including contacting IES headquarters in Chicago - and they did. The staff were always approachable and super friendly, and they fortunately acclimated us extremely well to the culture; I know a lot of former study abroad students including myself keep in contact with them still. And one of the highlights definitely was IES Vienna being in a palace. Yes, you read that correctly. Our classrooms, musical performances, library, computer lounge, and counseling office were all in a small palace located in the very heart of Vienna. My classes were super enjoyable, taught by Viennese (I would recommend taking a music class - one of my professors performed in concerts and operas in the city and I was able to watch him live!). And Vienna itself is, simply put, absolutely breathtaking and an unforgettable experience. The IES Vienna staff encouraged us to always "Squeeze the juice!" which essentially meant Carpe diem, or seize the day. And I learned to really apply this in Vienna and still do until this day. (My Facebook status currently is "Carpe every diem" and a fellow Vienna study abroad student commented "Squeeze the juice!!") Whether you like music of all types, or classical or modern art, or eating amazing pastries, or roaming enchanting palaces, or sitting in a coffee shop with some of the world's best coffee in one hand and a good book in the other, or shopping through streets filled with boutiques and stores, or simply wandering down ancient streets and taking all that in - Vienna is the place to do it. Like the popular slogan says which you will see everywhere in Vienna - it's either now or never!

Yes, I recommend

About IES Abroad

IES Abroad offers 140 programs worldwide for college students. We are a highly charged force of study abroad enthusiasts. Every day we have the privilege of witnessing how study abroad changes our students’ lives. We also believe that every student...