IES Abroad Vienna - European Society & Culture

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About

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.

Interested in seeing our Center through a Virtual Tour? Check out https://www.iesabroad.org/study-abroad/virtual-tours to learn more!

Questions & Answers

Reviews

94%
based on 41 reviews
  • Academics 7.3
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.3
  • Housing 9.1
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 31 - 41 of 41
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Maggie
10/10

My Best Decision Yet

Located on the Danube, Vienna, Austria is in the center of Europe and is a hub of immense culture with a huge emphasis on the arts. This city is rich with different cultures and through the architecture and different parts of the city, one can see all of these cultures come together. It is the only capital city in Europe that makes wine. Traveling throughout the country and Europe is extremely easy to manage because of its central location.

From the moment I stepped off of the plane, IES Abroad staff members were there to greet me and take the rest of the students to orientation. They answered any possible questions we had and made sure we knew as much about the city as possible before we lived in it. They immerse you in the Austrian culture by first taking you to the countryside outside of Vienna. We were well informed about the public transportation, how to get to school, the culture that we would face, and how to live in this brand new city. The staff is this helpful for the entire semester and it is wonderful. The staff also organized 4 different field trips including a Germany trip, a ski trip (in the Austrian Alps!, and 2 trips around Austria).

There are a variety of classes from music, psychology, business, art, and, of course, German. The instructors know that traveling is a priority for students. They make an effort to immerse you in the Vienna culture while learning by going on field trips. There are also internship opportunities that can further immerse you in Vienna culture and help you connect with locals. The teachers are from a variety of backgrounds. Some are alumni of the program which is always a great connection to have. The academics are not too rigorous. You learn, but you have a lot of fun while doing it.

The IES staff will help anyone that encounters culture shock and makes it a requirement at the beginning, middle, and end, to discuss each phase of culture shock we would be facing. The city is extremely clean and safe. The housing that IES provides is fantastic. There are homestays and apartments. Most people stay in apartments with other IES students and are scattered throughout the city. I loved that my friends were all in different locations. I could explore the city while going to everyone's house. Vienna has multiple districts and each one is unique and has it's own history.

If you are looking for a culturally rich city that is easy to navigate and become accustomed to, then this is the right program for you. Even if you are not too into classical music or opera, you can still appreciate the lifestyle that these people lead. You will want to travel and discover more of Europe, but you will also want to stay for a lot of weekends to discover Vienna. There are lots of parks and fun places to go to for night life or museums and things to explore during the day.

Any difficulties I may have encountered I overcame during my stay. They were mostly related to the culture being different and that is something that everyone can relate to while traveling. I would recommend this program to anyone that asked. I made wonderful memories.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Dominique
10/10

Year in Vienna

This study abroad program had everything you could think of to make a great study abroad experience. The staff makes adjusting to a new city easy and fun, starting from the orientation weekend and settling into our housing. the housing is great, a lot of the apartments are near the city center, and close to other student apartments. Throughout the year IES hosts several different trips for students, and throughout both semester I went on each of them. The three city trips were inexpensive and a great money savor. I got to see a lot of different areas of Austria I would not have seen otherwise. The ski and snowboard trip was my favorite because of the deal we got on rentals, and the fact that there was always someone to ski whether you were just learning or experienced.

The best part of the program was the range of academics they offered, since you could take classes at both the IES center and the University of Vienna. The teachers at IES are great because they really try to get you out of the classroom and explore the city. For example in my art history classes we spent most of the time in different museums, and even got free museum passes from them.

Overall Vienna is an amazing city to live in, since there is always something to do, places to explore, and events the city is planning. IES is very good about informing students on the different events being thrown around the city. The public transportation is easy to understand and learn, and efficient. Plus students can feel comfortable about safety, not once did I feel scared to use public transportation at night.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Ashlyn
10/10

Such a Blessing!

This program was AMAYIGN! The IES Abroad staf made studying abroad such a great experience, and they were a huge help when it came to any needs that arose. The living arrangements are clean and very nice. The academics are challenging but not life consuming wich left me with lots of free to to enjoy the culture and travel. There are a large aray of courses offered, and IES even offers courses in German. If you have the time to stay an extra month, IES will help you enroll and take courses directly at the University of Vienna for no extra cost! Because Vienna is such a melting pot, getting to now the locals and area was great! I even joind a cheerleading squad and made some life-long friendships. Oh, and if you are interested in history, go to Vienna! They have countless museums and historical sites. The city is beautiful, the locals are awesome, the culture is diverse and fun, and the IES makes study abroad an adventure! Go to Vienna!!!

How can this program be improved?
I highly disliked that the German language course (which every student is required to take) was graded on the Austrian scale rather than the Americna scale. All of our other classes were graded on the American scale, so it doe not make sense to me that this one class was graded on a different scale. It was also very annoying that no one was able to clearly explain to me what happens to my German language grade when it goes back to American. Is it then rescaled to the American scale? If not, how is my GPA affected by having a grade factored into it that isn´on the same scale? The rest of the program was beyond amazing, but that part was just annoying.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
laurelbeans
8/10

A step into Europe, or a step into the past

Vienna was an absolutely beautiful cosmopolitan city. I had the most fun exploring hidden streets, cafes, or local hideaways revealed by the staff at IES. The academic classes were not that difficult, but I went to art museums, birthplaces of composers such as Beethoven, and attend operas and other music events, and they provided me the tangible evidence of history. I wish I could have immersed myself in the language more and taken advantage of the language buddy program, because they pair you up with an Austrian student and you get a chance to have a local critique your German, not to mention an Austrian friend. Being away from home for six months was challenging, but the chance to explore a city that deeply was one I never would trade.

How can this program be improved?
I would not room with five other people. It is much too stressful to try to get that many personalities to work together.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
teragramknife
10/10

Amazing Study Abroad Experience

Vienna is literally all I could have asked for in a city in term of studying abroad. There is always something happening (concerts, operas, musicals, plays, festivals, parties, and so much more), it is an incredibly safe city, it is clean and green, surrounded by alpine mountains, full of life, and so so amazingly easy to get around in. Not a day has gone by since I have been in Vienna that I haven't found another reason to love this city. And I certainly think that IES Abroad Vienna has a lot to do with this. They provided my the resources and the knowledge necessary to make the most of Vienna. The IES staff are wonderful. Always so helpful, no matter how mundane your question is and just generally excited to show you as much of Vienna as they possibly can. However, I must say that IES can become sort of a bubble. You take all your classes with the same students in the same buildings. If you wanted to, you could easily limit yourself to the easy, comfortable life provided by IES. However, with just a little effort, it is fun and rewarding to step outside this bubble. For an example, I started taking two sports classes with Austrian college students at the Universität Sport Institut Wien (which IES staff helped me do).

One of my goals in this program is to not let a day go by without having done something new or exciting. This can be anything from going to an opera or trying a new restaurant, or going on a new hike. It is incredibly easy to make this happen. Most days it happens without any effort at all! It seems as though tons of amazing opportunities are simply everywhere in this city.

I have been enjoying all of my classes so far. I am a neuroscience major at my home school, so the idea of taking all history, literature, music, and language classes is both foreign and exciting. My professors have all been extremely well qualified and enthusiastic. I truly feels as though they are excited to teach this material and are excited by IES students. The language program has been wonderful. I adore my German class. I truly feel like my German skills have been improving every day and I have been enjoying it. Each class we find ourselves laughing and joking, all in German! It has truly been a great experience thus far.

How can this program be improved?
I would change the bubble-like nature of this program. It can be so easy to get sucked into a simple routine, in which you speak no german, see little of vienna, and stay within your comfort zone. Which certainly is not what studying abroad is about! I'm not sure in what way this would be possible, but it is something that I know every other IES Vienna student can relate to.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Marie
10/10

The View From Hietzing

Years ago when I was selecting my undergrad college, the number two thing I sought was a school that would allow me to study abroad in Vienna. Unlike most students, I had the unique opportunity to tour Europe with my high school choir and of all the places we went (including Venice, Munich and Paris) it was, as the song says: Wien, Wien, nur du allein! The IES program is what my school offered so that is the program I applied to.

Back in those days (I am an '87-88 full year abroad alum) the app process was slow and laborious and communication difficult, but I arrived in Vienna a few days before the start of my program with a basic knowledge of how to ask for directions in German and a desire to see things. Best decision ever! That first day I went all over the city on my own on public transit - 19 and full of confidence. I even hopped the U-Bahn and rode out to Schoenbrunn Palace - a place I would later consider my personal backyard.

By the time the program started, Vienna already felt like home to me. We were taken to Mariazell for orientation and to choose roommates. I had come alone and was an only child, so when no one chose to room with me, I took a single alllll the way out in the 14th district. Probably never would have done it had I not seen the city first. Again, best decision ever! I lived with a family and unlike my program colleagues I was hit gold. Hietzing is the "diplomats district" and is full of ambassadorial residences and wealthy people. My housing was a private flat in the basement of an enormous single family home. I had my own bathroom with shower and was allowed to use the family washing machine whenever I wanted to. Because I lived so far from the school (which is in a former palace) centrally located just off the Kaertnerstrasse I commuted daily by U-Bahn -- which is on the honor system but let me tell you, do NOT think you can get away with no ticket. You will be caught and fined. You had to register at the local police department when you arrived so that they knew who you were and where you lived. IES gave us directions on how to do this, but essentially everyone learned on their own.

Some highlights of my year: I joined the English speaking Catholic church across from the US Embassy and when they heard me singing they made me the regular Sunday cantor! Singing in a peace choir with some expat Brits and Irish at St Stephen's cathedral. Shopping at the Flohmarkt. Making friends with a Kansan who was au pairing with an opera singer and sitting front row at the Musikverein for a charity concert. Austrian Art and Architecture class. The Christkindlemarkt. Easter in the Tatra Mountains. Being followed through the Rathaus by a skinhead telling our study group that the holocaust was a fake. Hearing T'Pau perform live in the middle of the Hofburg courtyard. Commuting daily with hausfraus and their "rat dogs." Picnics on the Donauinsel. Lunch at the Hochschule fur Musik and hearing musicians practice through out open classroom windows. Those little Manner eirbiscotten (not available in the US). Nom-Mix yogurt. Schnitzel at "The Green Gasthaus." The recorded voice of the man on the U-Bahn and Strassenbahn. Stehplatz at the opera. Visiting the Tiergarten at Schoenbrunn. Hiking in the Wienerwald. Study trips to Krems, Melk, Prague, Krakow, Auschwitz, Moscow, Berlin and Budapest were quite amazing. And so much more!

Vienna is an immensely liveable city and to this day I often say it's a great place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit there. Its location at the intersection of east and west gives you so many many options. One piece of advice: don't limit yourself! Travel. Take risks. Explore beyond the city. Immerse yourself in Austria - she will never leave your heart.

How can this program be improved?
Back in my day the biggest flaw was poor communication. Other than that honestly, this was the best thing from my four years in college.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
WienFiend
10/10

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 this program
Default avatar
cake930
10/10

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 this program
Default avatar
mapaulsen13
10/10

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 this program
Default avatar
Tia
8/10

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 this program
Default avatar
ilovewien
10/10

#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 this program

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...