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Days in Dornbirn

I’ve been away for 6 weeks now and boy has it flown fast!

View of Sebastianstraße in Dornbirn, Austria







I never thought I’d be one to go on exchange away from the comfort of my family, friends and Sydney lifestyle. I remember sitting on the plane all on my lonesome waiting to jet set off and thinking ‘Why am I doing this?’ I was naturally a little freaked out as it all hit me. But arriving in Voralberg, Austria and seeing the snow capped mountains amidst a small town of beautifully crafted houses/ buildings and breathing in the fresh crisp air I knew it wouldn’t be long before I could call this place home. I’ve already experienced and learnt so much in what seems like such a small space of time.

  • GRADUALLY learning German and accustoming to the Austrian ways of doing
  • Travelling to surrounding European countries and gaining insight into the diversity of cultures
  • Visualising design from a new perspective through class discussion, exhibitions and everyday observations
  • Being a student of a well organised and highly facilitated university that has a completely different timetable structure to UTS
  • Carrying out the domestic responsibilities that come with living alone
  • And, enjoying the awesome company of other students from across the world

Things I’ve come to love and learn about Dornbirn:

  • It is the biggest town in the Vorarlberg region, but in comparison to Sydney it so so small!!! It makes getting to know the locals quite easy
  • Average temperature: 12 degrees
  • There has been little snow – apparently its been the worse skii season in over 10 years
  • Being on time is important – Austria in generally quite organised
  • Traditional Austrian dishes to try are kaisersemmeln (pancakes), kaserspaetzle, Germknödel (during ski season) and Cordon Bleau (schnitzel stuffed with cheese and ham).
  • If you order a beer here, expect at least half a liter. They also have Radlr (sweeter beer with citrus) which is my favourite 🙂 It kind of taste like cider but with less alcho I think (2.5%!)
  • They have food markets here every Wedensday and Saturday in the main platz where you can buy some yummy cold meats, cheeses and fresh fruits/flowers! There are also flea markets around Voralberg Friday – Sundays which is really good for stocking up on items for the kitchen/room for cheap!
  • Vorarlberg has a very strong (German) dialect so it is a good thing most of the young people here know how to speak English.
  • Everyday groceries and necessities are quite expensive in comparison to Australia… except for the chocolate hehe (However places such as Lidl and hofer which are like ALDI are generally inexpensive)
  • I feel a bike is an essential thing to own here as it is the easiest mode of transport in a small town. I bought mine about two weeks ago and I love it!!
  • Austria is very sustainable when it comes to waste management. Each individual is expected to separate their rubbish into plastics, papers, metals, glass, organics and restumüll (excess waste). As much as it requires more effort, this is something I wish they enforced in Australia!
  • Nightlife here is a little more subdued than Sydney but there are still plenty of little bars and pubs where you can enjoy drinking with your mates.


Fast Facts about Fachhochschule Vorarlberg

  • The teachers I have had so far seem to be pretty easy going, quite good at speaking English and have an interesting sense of humor. They do also have high expectations of work and they aren’t afraid to tell you if something is lacking.
  • Almost all assignments are in group work which I find a bit challenging at times but it does prepare us for what we are expected to face in the real world. Our groups usually include an Austrian student, which I find is a good way to get to know the locals!
  • FHV has excellent facilities including the plotter machine that is free for all students to use!!! They also allow you to hire all types of electronic gear such as SLR cameras, go pros, etc.
  • They have free sports Monday to Wednesday, which I love!! Its great way to keep fit and socialize with the local students.

The school has been great in supporting us as we settle into our new homes. From the moment we arrived they were so helpful. We were picked up from the train station by the international coordinator, Anja. We had an fun orientation week that allowed all the students to not only get to know one another but also their home cultures and things to try, see and do here in Dornbirn. FHV has also organised many excursions such as going to the Bregenz carnival, a Pub Crawl night, treated us to a lunch at the markets (on the condition that we order what we want in German) and attending the Funken (an old tradition held on the first weekend after the end of carnival and is celebrated to welcome spring and banish the cold winter). 

As expected, I’ve found it a bit challenging to focus on what I’m really here to do – study! Considering it is still early days and I’ve only just began to settle in, I know I will make the most of my study opportunities form here on whilst still finding room for travels and other exchange festivities. I’ve found it is also really important to find time just for myself, to just reflect on my exchange experience so far and make time for the little things.


Carmen Famularo

Bachelour of Design in Visual Communication

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