Leave the beaten tracks and spend your summer abroad

Alexander A. is studying International Business Administration at WU Vienna. Last summer, he decided to spend a summer abroad for an ISU program in Estonia. On our blog, he tells about his experiences during the International Summer University.

WU Blog: You’ve spent three weeks in Estonia – which aspects did you like most about it?

Alexander: First of all, I really appreciated that the course was held in another country, namely Estonia. The fact that the summer university took place far away from the familiar study environment of the WU, kind of pushed me out of my own comfort zone and allowed me to get to know a unknown country and its cultural habits. Moreover, I enjoyed that the course’s main purpose was to work on a real life project, as this approach really distinguishes the summer university from all other courses at WU.

What I liked in particular about the project work, is that we got the chance to work together in multicultural teams, just to show you, my team consisted, apart from me as Austrian, of one Estonian, one Russian, one Israeli and one Carinthian. Even though, this cross-cultural mix made it sometimes harder to work together, than it would have been in a team of just Austrians, the project work broadened my intercultural horizon and gave me a sneak peek on how it will be to work with people from different cultural backgrounds later, in the real world of business.

“The fact that summer university took place far away from the familiar study environment of the WU, kind of pushed me out of my own comfort zone.”

WU Blog: Which aspects did you like most about the leisure program?

Alexander: The biggest highlight in our three weeks of ISU was the daytrip to Helsinki. We got up very early in the morning to catch one of the first ferries from Tallinn to Helsinki, where we had a guided tour through the city, which I really appreciated, as the guide was the same age group as we were and put an emphasis on facts that were really interesting to us. After lunch we had the chance to explore the city on our own, and as this was the first time I’ve been to Scandinavia I was really impressed by the city and how people are living there, something completely different I than what Im used to in Vienna.

WU Blog: Which are the most important experiences and learnings you could take out of the attended program?

Alexander: The aspect I liked most about the study design of this international summer university is that we got taught some theoretical background, but our main goal was to implement the things we learned in a real life project; each project team had to work on a task, set by some Estonian partner companies. By doing research and condense our findings in a report, we created a win-win situation for us and the companies, as we as students gained some very valuable insight on how it would be to work for a consulting company and at the same time the company received some very useful information and recommendation for the challenges they are facing.

Another facet of the program that I really liked was the company visits, as we got to know companies from the inside. This gave us the chance to have a look behind the scenes, see what companies do and more importantly, how they do what they do. I really liked these visits, as once more, nothing like this is offered during the “normal” semester.

“I can recommend everyone to attend an international summer university, as the combination of academic, social and cultural experience is second to nothing that I have witnessed so far in my life.”

WU Blog: Do you have any tips for future ISU participants regarding the program and preparing for an ISU program in general?

Alexander: Regarding tips, once one has decided to participate in an ISU, the first thing is that you should have a good look on your study plan and search whether the course you join helps you to get further in your studies. Another important thing is planning your timetable, even though lecturers may hurry you into working on your project as soon and as much as possible, the workload is moderate, so if you work one hour a day for the first two and a half weeks of the programme you should do fine and have some free time to explore the new environment, between all the cultural and leisure activities that you have to attend. However, be aware that the last two or three days you really got to hang in and spend a lot of time, but if you do your work properly there, you will have no problem and get a good grade.

You’d like to know more?

Visit the ISU Infosession: January 18, 2018; 12:00 noon, TC 2.01 Siemens Hörsaal

Join the small-group-advisory meetings at International office: January 23, 2018; 2 p.m. & March 1, 2018; 2 p.m.

Application period: March 5, 2018; 2 p.m. – March 13, 2018, 12:00 noon

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