Welcome to WU! Thought I’d include some photos of the beautiful campus I’ve been calling home for this post
Ah, studying abroad. I’d often dreamt of what my experience studying abroad would be like—although, ironically, my dreams always lacked any of the actual studying part. I really didn’t spend too much time fantasizing about what classes would be like in a foreign country; I think part of me must have assumed that business courses are the same everywhere. And generally speaking, we do learn the same things: financial and managerial accounting, basic economics, statistics, etc. However, the way in which courses are structured and taught is a bit different.
The first difference I noticed even before my arrival was the scheduling of classes. WU is interesting because they don’t really have a consistent pattern for the course structures, or at least for the courses taught in English. At UI, I’m used to a course having class periods every week for the duration of the semester. Aside from online classes, that’s really the only option. Here at WU, there are some courses that I have once a week for the entirety of my stay (like UI), while others I have every day for a week or so and then the course is over. I appreciate the varied course structures, though, because there are points in the semester when I have an entire week off from classes, which makes traveling a whole lot easier!
Now that I’ve got over a month of classes under my belt, I’ve been noticing some additional differences between my two universities. At UI, all of my courses typically have at least 2 big exams throughout the semester, each of which accounts for 15-20% of my grade. Here, my courses only have one exam, the final, which accounts for anywhere between 40-70% of my final grade. This is a bit intimidating for me, but because the courses have less graded assignments in general, it makes sense that the final is worth so much. The final grade in my classes here consists of essentially just three components: class participation, a group presentation (or some kind of group work), and the final exam.
In addition to the decreased amount of graded work, I’ve noticed that my professors here are less explicit when it comes to explaining our few assignments. There are no rubrics or basic guidelines to follow, but we’re instead simply presented with a question or topic that needs to be answered. For one of my classes in which our group presentation was worth 20% of the final grade, our professor wasn’t even taking notes on the presentation. If we had given the same presentation at UI, our professor would have been rigorously checking off boxes on a rubric and writing down notes on everything from our professional appearance to the use of visuals in our PowerPoint. With that being said, I personally don’t feel that either of these teaching styles is better than the other; there are definitely pros and cons to both.
On the right is WU’s law building which coincidentally or not kind of reminds me and my friends of a prison
With my month or so of classes out the window, I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in the classroom, which I never really thought would be the case. I love being in a room with students from around the world, hearing perspectives that I would never be exposed to otherwise. It’s especially interesting, I think, to be a student from the US. I’ve found that the US is often the example used in case studies (or at least those I’ve encountered in my courses), so I get to hear quite a few outsider opinions on various topics pertaining to the US.
All in all, I knew that I was pretty sheltered coming into this, but it was honestly a little embarrassing to be sitting in my EU Law and Economics class knowing so little about the EU and what’s happening here. It made me realize just how little I know about our world, and as a result, how much I want to learn. As cliché as it may be, I 100% agree that it’s so easy to stay in our little bubbles, choosing to be naïve when it comes to things that make us uncomfortable. Coming here completely alone was probably the biggest jump outside of my comfort zone I’ve ever taken; I initially would have loved to have a fellow Iowan here with me. But now that I’m here, I’m so glad I made this journey solo.
Bailie Uppena is a marketing and accounting major at the University of Iowa, who will be spending the semester at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration as part of the Vienna Exchange program.
Student blog entries posted to this International Accents page may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UI Study Abroad and International Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.