In 2013 I spent the best six months of my life during a semester abroad in Austria. I won the Ernst Mach Grant and studied in FH Wien University of Applied Sciences in Vienna. This was a life changing experience which allowed me to advance in my career, make friends from all over the world, visit 12 European countries and have a fulfilling experience that opened me the doors for future opportunities. Let me share with you the benefits of this scholarship, my experience in FH Wien, how is it to live in Vienna, which are the steps for the application process and how to participate in other study programs around the world.
1) The Ernest Mach Grant
a. Grant Award
I feel so fortunate and grateful for receiving this grant awarded by OeAD-GmbH/ICM on behalf of and financed by the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW) because it is one of the most complete grants that exist in the world. It covers:
- Tuition fees.
- Monthly grant rate of 1,050 EUR.
- Accommodation and insurance: to be paid out of the grant by the recipient of the grant.
- Recipients of grants from non-European developing countries will also receive a travel costs subsidy up to 1,000 EUR maximum.
- Duration: 4 to 10 months
- Area of study or research: Natural Sciences, Technical Sciences, Human Medicine & Health Sciences, Agricultural Sciences and Social Sciences
- Level of studies: undergraduate and graduate
- Students who: are studying a master or bachelor program at a university in one of the defined countries of origin and have successfully completed at least 4 semesters of studies by the time of taking up the grant (you can see the list of defined countries in the Grant webpage which is explained below in section 4 Application Process)
- Maximum age: 35 years
- Language: proficiency in the language of instruction (German or English)
2) FH Wien University of Applied Sciences
This grant is awarded to study in one of the Austrian Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule). There is a long list of universities all over Austria; in my experience I wanted to be in Vienna, the capital, so based in the study programs of the universities in Vienna, I chose FH Wien University of Applied Sciences.
a. The "Buddy program"
This program is amazing, the idea is that before you arrive to Austria, when you are still getting prepared in your home country, you are introduced by email to one or more "buddies" which are current Austrian students in the university, who will be able to assist you and resolve your doubts before you arrive. Me and another Mexican girl were assigned four buddies which were amazing and became our close friends along the semester.
I'm still in touch with my buddy Lukas, we went on a road trip with more friends through Belgium, Germany and Luxemburg. The picture below is in Luxemburg.
There is a wide variety of courses that you can take and the advantage is that many of them are in English. These are the main areas:
- Finance, Accounting & Taxation
- Real Estate
- Journalism & Media Management
- Content Production & Digital Media Management
- Corporate Communication
- Marketing & Sales
- Human Resources Management
- Tourism & Hospitality Management
- Management & Entrepreneurship
Besides taking courses from my degree (all in English) I wanted to learn German so in Mexico I started with a basic course and later on I took a complete course as part of my semester.
For more information visit the university webpage: fh-wien.ac.at/
3) The Erasmus Buddy Network
As a student living in Vienna I was able to form part of the Erasmus Buddy Network (EBN) which gives you several advantages as the EBN Card (to enjoy discounts) and the opportunity to participate in many events (trips, cultural events, sports activities and parties). For more information visit: ebnwu.com
a. Trip to Salzburg
b. Podersdorf Festival
c. Wine Tasting
4) Living in Vienna
a. Accommodation: there are several student residences in which you can stay, the prices vary between 220 EUR to 470 EUR. I lived in Haus Erasmus which was conveniently located in front of the subway station that took me directly to University. You can find a complete list with accommodation in Austria here: housing.oead.at/en/accommodation. The following picture was the view from my window during winter.
b. Food: in Vienna you can find EVERYTHING regarding food, there is a great variety of restaurants so you will find Austrian, Chinese, German, India, Mexican food... you name it.
c. Transport: Vienna has an efficient transport network comprised with the underground, trams, buses (including Night buses), and overground trains. As students we got the "Vienna Metro Card" which allowed us to have indefinite rides the whole semester. The picture below is the entrance of the subway station that was in front of my house; on top of the station was a library.
d. Culture: Vienna is a city full of history and culture. There are a lot of museums, art centers, parks, and beautiful buildings you should visit; in my opinion two of the must see locations are the Schönbrunn Palace (considered a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO) and the Belvedere Palace.
e. Nightlife: there are a lot of bars and nightclubs in Vienna and the EBN promotes various events with all international students.
f. Traveling: another advantage of Austria is its location in the center of Europe. This allowed me to easily visit other countries during vacations. During the summer break I went to almost 12 countries in a quick trip spending one or two days in different cities. The next picture was taken in Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland.
5) Application Process
The deadline for the application is usually on March so make sure you apply with enough time to collect all the required documents.
a. Log into the Grant webpage
- Log into Scholarships.at: in the webpage www.scholarships.at you are going to find the the Ernst Mach Grant as well as other scholarships in Austria.
- Translate to English: you are going to see all the information in German but don't worry, on the upper right side of the page there is a button for English language.
- Click in "From abroad to Austria": you are going to find a scholarship search tool in which you will select your country of origin, then select "Grant" in category, then select "Undergraduate" in Target Group and leave all the other fields blank. After you click "View result list" you are going to find the Ernst Mach Grant as well as other ones.
- Select the Ernst Mach Grant: the complete name should be "Ernst Mach Grant for studying at an Austrian university of applied sciences (Fachhochschule)". Here you are going to see all the information about the scholarship. Read it carefully and collect all the documents needed.
*Recommendation: spend time in this webpage learning about all the opportunities that exist, maybe there are other scholarships that you can obtain now or in the future; for example, if you don't obtain the Ernst Mach Grant for your undergraduate degree, you can apply in the future for a Master's Degree.
b. Get accepted in an Austrian University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule)
- Log into the Austrian Fachhochschule site: in the website fachhochschulen.ac.at you will see all the universities in which you can apply.
- Log into the webpage of each university: examine the courses offered as well as the campus, students and other characteristics.
- Choose a university: do some research about the location of the university and picture your life there.
- Select the courses you will take: check the courses you need to take the next semester to advance in your degree in your home university and compare their study plan with the ones offered in the Austrian university. You can take courses that will be recognized in your home university as well as extra courses (for example, I took a German language course just to learn a new language although their credit points didn't count for my degree in my home university).
c. Collect all the relevant documents
The following documents have to be uploaded with the online application at www.scholarships.at:
- Two letters of recommendation by university lecturers.
- Confirmation of the home university that the exams passed in Austria will be recognized by the home university (e.g. a learning agreement).
- Confirmation of acceptance as an exchange student or free mover from the University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule).
- Scan of your passport.
- Scan of a current Transcript of Records.
Don't miss your chance of living a life-changing experience with long-lasting friendships from all around the world!
6) How to participate in other study programs around the world
You can read the post How to find scholarships to study abroad to know in which websites you will find databases containing scholarships, grants and fellowships. And I recommend you to also read the posts How to participate in the summer academy Waves of Democracy in Denmark and How to study a summer course in Stanford University in which I explain my experience and the application process.