Life in Austria

In Austria they have a totally different way of doing things from the laundry to eating meals! Be open to everything that presents itself to you and remember…It’s not right or wrong, it’s just different!Hanna from WA, Year Program
In Austria people are generally not as open with their feelings as they are in the United States. It was surprising for me that some people weren't as likely to give you a shoulder to cry on as you would think. Its important to remember that their seeming lack of sympathy is not pointed at you, it’s just one cultural difference.Vanessa from CA, Semester Program
Have someone show you how to use the public transportation. Talk a lot because they may not start the conversation with you. Emily from CA, Year Program
I was told that Austrians will tell you everything they find wrong with you. While that may be true, the reason is that they are simply honest. They pride themselves in their honesty and want things properly explained. In the USA, we might call that “tactless,” but in Austria, it is just honesty.Hannah from MT, Semester Program
Never be afraid to share your opinion. They expect you to do that. Keep in mind that they will tell you if you are doing something odd, but don't let it bother you. Try to get involved in a sport and do as much in school as you can. They will respect you for it and you will become closer to them.Hannah from MT, Semester Program
Austria is one of the most polite and safe countries in the world. Get ready for a lot of etiquette and be more outgoing than you think is necessary! Sydney from MA, Year Program
Practice eating with your fork in your left hand and knife in your right hand BEFORE you leave, otherwise the first family meal may be awkward.Anna from PA, Year Program
In Austria, the biggest differences in the school system is that students are separated by skills and abilities, classes are generally smaller (in a Gymnasium), the school hours are different, students interact more with one another and are much more focused on studies.Caitlin from MN, Semester Program
Tell your family about yourself but always remember to ask about the culture a lot. I found people are so much nicer when they realize you want to learn about their home and culture. Helen from MT, Semester Program
The Austrians love things to be clean. Their houses are their pride and joy. School is difficult and completely different from the US. Social life is going out on the weekends only.Becky from SC, Year Program
It would have been 100 times easier if I had known more about my home country's government, history, and politics. I was asked a lot of questions on these subjects in Austria and I could not answer them. Verbal communication is key, and don't assume anything. Elizabeth from CA, Year Program

The Essentials

All Programs
Semester High School
Year High School

Language Requirements

Applicants to the Year and Semester High School Programs in Austria are expected to enroll in an online Rosetta Stone language course and study independently prior to departure and while on program. The mandatory online course will be organized and monitored by AFS Austria who will email registration and login instructions to each student approximately 2 months prior to the start of the program.

Upon arrival in Austria, all students will be asked to pay €45 (approx $54) to cover the cost of the course. At the end of the program, AFS Austria will refund €20 (approx $24) to students who have regularly used the online course throughout their semester or year abroad. They will also provide a Certificate of Completion that indicates the language level that the student has reached, according to Rosetta Stone's assessment. Students who do not login and use the online course on a regular basis will not be eligible for the refund nor the Certificate of Completion.

Digging Deeper


Language Resources
Cultural Resources
News and Media
Movies and Documentaries
  • Radetzkymarsch (1965)
  • Der Bockerer (1981)
  • Sissi (1955)
  • Indien (1993)
  • The Third Man (1949)
  • The Great Waltz (1938)
  • The Sound of Music (1965)
  • Mayerling (1968)
  • Before Sunrise (1995)
  • The Illusionist (2006)
  • Vienna - City of Dreams (BBC)
  • Echte Wiener: Die Sackbauer Saga (2008)
Books
  • The Man Without Qualities
  • Wittgenstein's Nephew
  • The Painted Kiss
  • Embers
  • Henry James' Midnight Song
  • Brother of Sleep
  • The Hare with the Amber Eyes
  • The Story of the Trapp Family Singers
  • Beethoven: The Music and the Life
  • Fin-de-Siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture
  • A Nervous Splendor
  • Thunder at Twilight
  • The Habsburgs: The History of a Dynasty
  • The Austrians: A Thousand-Year Odyssey
LGBTQ Heritage and Ethnicity Resources (Diversity)
Note: The links and resources listed in "Digging Deeper" have been provided to AFS by people involved with our organization, including alumni members, volunteers, etc. AFS has not reviewed the resources in their entirety and presents them "as is" for your own information. As such, the sites, publications, films, etc. do not necessarily reflect the approval of nor the views, opinions, and/or values of AFS.