After her first year of studies in Sarajevo, Sara Krak came to Graz and started a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. For the Graz native Lukas Pointner, however, the path to biomedical engineering at TU Graz was a bit like a home match. In this face-to-face interview, both of them recount the beginning of their studies.
News+Stories: When you think back to the first week as students at TU Graz, what were your impressions and thoughts?
Sara: Although I was looking forward to my studies, I was at the same time a little bit nervous and anxious. I just thought, it’s all so big and I feel so small – so many people, so many courses, so many commitments. Only later did I understand the meaning of all that. Many people means new friendships, many courses are an opportunity to expand your knowledge, new obligations bring with them new possibilities.
Lukas: I liked the first week very much. I got to know many people.
Many people means new friendships, many courses are an opportunity to expand your knowledge, new obligations bring with them new possibilities. (Sara)
Was it the first time that you both saw TU Graz?
Sara: I had a photo of the Alte Technik on my computer when I was still studying in Sarajevo, and I was impressed by how beautiful this building was. At the time I had no idea that it was only a small part of the altogether three campuses – Alte Technik, Neue Technik and Inffeldgasse.
Lukas: As a Graz native I was already as a child on the TU Graz site.
What was the first surprise?
Lukas: What surprised me at the very beginning was the speed of lectures.
Sara: I didn’t expect it would be easy, but I also hadn’t thought so many possibilities would open up – for example, I met new people who really inspired me and made me grow. Or, in the courses there were opportunities to be creative, to be involved in the projects, where your own ideas and opinions count.
The hardest thing at the beginning was just to sit down and study. But after I made a timetable, I got along very well. (Lukas)
What did you find particularly demanding in the first two semesters?
Lukas: The hardest thing at the beginning was just to sit down and study. But after I made a timetable, I got along very well.
Sara: I needed time to get used to all the new situations and places. And in my case, there was also the language barrier. But I came to Austria to study and live here, and I recognised that the language would help me on my path – and this is how I crossed this obstacle. In general it’s good to know you’re not alone and that others are in the same position as you.
What kind of help is available for freshers?
Sara: A lot of support came from higher-semester students, who could look back at their own experience and help. I would also recommend the Students’ Union at TU Graz. They are always available for students.
Lukas: When I needed help, I always looked at the TU Graz website first. If that doesn’t help, just ask other students. Apart from that, I can recommend the first semester tutorials of the respective study programme representatives, so that you can network and exchange experiences. In the tutorials, groups of freshers are supervised by higher-semester student tutors.
Graz is now the place I feel at home. Friendly people, exciting culture, breathtaking architecture and the wonderful nature make the city such a special place. (Sara)
So how do you feel now in Graz and at TU Graz?
Sara: Even though I miss Bosnia and Herzegovina but Graz is now the place I feel at home. Friendly people, exciting culture, breathtaking architecture and the wonderful nature make the city such a special place. There are students from all over the world here – in my shared flat there are people from China, USA, Slovakia and Austria – and it works (laughs). In my studies everything’s going according to plan.
Lukas: Everything’s going brilliantly in my studies. At the end of the semester you can usually find me at home studying at my desk. Most people are concentrating on the last stage of exams then – even if a bit of joyful anticipation of the summer holidays is sometimes noticeable. If I’ve got time leftover, I go to the swimming association or play guitar.
Last question: what have been your personal highlights at TU Graz up until now?
Lukas: Lots of events and also parties. I very much recommend the TU Students’ Union party, which is always at the beginning of the winter semester.
Sara: The ‘Be the Face’ campaign of course! Under slogan of ‘Be the Face of TU Graz’, at the beginning of the semester, TU Graz looks for students to represent the University for one whole year. Also, the ‘Long Night of Research’, which takes place all over Austria every two years – that was a special experience.
- Visit the TU Graz website and the first semester tutorial.
- Start studying at the right time, its best if you make a timetable.
- Masters of their subject don’t fall from the sky – practice makes perfect.
Tips from Sara
- Learning in a group is productive and helpful, for example at the ‘Lernzentrum’ in Inffeldgasse.
- If you set yourself clear objectives, that is half the journey.
- Even if things are looking difficult – believe in yourself!