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Australia to Austria with my young family – WU Vienna

Matthew 1
The last time I wore a t-shirt – leaving Australia with my family – February 2018

A new home

Although I was sure to convey an air of confidence when talking with others about our plans to relocate to Vienna, so I could undertake a double Masters, the truth is I was a little uncomfortable about the proposition. My wife and I were fortunate to have good jobs, our two beautiful daughters were enjoying daycare and we have great family and friends in Australia. Life was good, but, we wanted to experience life in Europe as a young family for a time and after much discussion and deliberation we decided to go for it, a month and a half into our 12-month stay we couldn’t be happier.

Vienna is a vibrant city full of amazing architecture, great people and it is a fantastic place for a young family. There is a playground on every corner (slight exaggeration, but almost!) and we have been lucky to find a great area to live and a wonderful kindergarten for the girls. Life in Vienna is particularly easy; it has just been voted the most livable city in the world for the ninth straight year, by Mercer’s annual Quality of Living Survey.  We’ve been to museums, galleries, ice-skating and are starting to explore the surrounding area and learn more about the local wines, which are excellent by the way. Given the cold, we’ve had -15 a few times and I often leave home dressed like an arctic explorer, we’ve had our fair share of days spent inside but made sure we ventured outside for the occasional snow-ball fight or to build a snowman, this has been a real thrill for the girls.

We arrived in February and I started a three-week intensive German course almost immediately. This has given me a small arsenal of words to assist in day-to-day life but I have a long way to go. Language has not been an issue, and we have found a bilingual kindergarten so the girls are at ease and picking up some German, which we are particularly pleased about as we wanted this to be an experience that would benefit all of us.

WU – First impressions

Wirtschafts Universität Wien, or WU for short, is an amazing campus in the second district of Vienna. It is near the centre of town and, having relocated in 2013, it is blessed with state of the art learning facilities and striking architecture. WU has approximately 22,000 students and enjoys partnerships with over 200 universities globally, ensuring a diverse student base and international feel.  WU has received recognition, through certifications such as EQUIS, as an outstanding academic institution and my first impressions support these awards as all the staff have been particularly impressive, more importantly however, they have all been extremely welcoming and helpful.

Matthew 2
They call this the Summer Semester, seriously. Photo taken at WU Campus February 2018

The teaching is structured differently; many subjects are undertaken in a block format or dispersed at differing intervals so the ‘one class a week for a semester’ format is non-existent. The students are of a particularly high standard and the in class discussions have impressed me enormously. In general, I have found everyone to be highly capable and driven which is the perfect environment for me. I am both excited and feeling tremendously privileged to be able to spend a year at this incredible university.

In and around Vienna

Ok, I admit it. I may have had an ulterior motive for choosing Austria… The skiing is world class and there is lots of it. Austria is blessed with some of the best mountains for snow sports in the world. Skiing is a national fixation and they even have a week off school, literally called ski-week, so they can hit the slopes. I’ve managed to get a couple of weekends in so far, before uni work really kicks in, and I have not been disappointed. The après events also provide a unique cultural experience that I would highly recommend to all visitors.


Austria is a cultural hub and has been home to some of classical music’s biggest names, furthermore, Vienna enjoys significant art, science and history collections. We visited the Austrian Military Museum and stood less than a metre away form the vehicle Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated in, it is truly an amazing piece of modern history. A walk through the first district will not disappoint, with St. Stephans, pictured above, being one highlight. Vienna’s proximity to Eastern Europe in particular makes it a perfect base for travel, if you’re feeling adventurous Budapest is less than two hours away by train. I cannot imagine we will be struggling for things to do over the course of the year and we plan on making the most of our time here together.

If you are considering WU I would highly recommend it and am happy to make myself available to discuss this with you upon request. Auf wiedersehen!

Matthew O’Donnell
Masters of Business Administration (UTS) / Masters of Science (WU)
Wirtschafts Universität Wien (WU)

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