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My semester abroad at TU Graz despite corona

01/21/2021 |

By Lisa Schmidt

Architecture student Lisa Schmidt came to Graz from TU Berlin as an Erasmus student. Here she writes about what it's like to study abroad in the time of corona, specifically at TU Graz.

The campus locations "Old Campus“ (pictured here) and "New Campus“ of TU Graz are centrally located in the inner city.

Why TU Graz?

I made my decision to apply for a semester at Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) just under a year before I was due to start. A decisive reason for this was the "Graz School" of the 1970s-1990s at the Technical College of Graz (since 1972 known as Graz University of Technology), which is known beyond the borders of Austria and is still one of the best-known phenomena of 20th century Austrian architecture.
Another reason was the diverse and exciting architecture institutes at Graz University of Technology with their extensive range of courses. This allowed me to choose the topics that suited me best from a wide range of possible specializations. The Faculty of Architecture website can be recommended to all architecture students.

Moreover, Graz University of Technology is highly regarded. The city of Graz and the location in Styria were also decisive factors for me. Graz is the second largest city in Austria and offers a wide range of cultural activities, is surrounded by unspoiled nature and is also not far from other cities worth visiting, such as Vienna or Maribor (Slovenia).

Medieval clock tower with a view over the city of Graz

Graz, Austria’s second largest city, offers a wide range of cultural activities and plenty of unspoiled nature. Here you can see the medieval Clock Tower “Schlossberg” and the City of Graz.

Another reason to apply for a semester at TU Graz was the diverse and exciting architecture institutes at Graz University of Technology with their extensive range of courses.

The study of architecture at TU Graz

The effects of the corona pandemic have been affecting us students across Europe for just under a year now. The study of architecture – characterized by model building, face-to-face discussion both in groups and with instructors, and collaborative design and sketching – is strongly influenced by corona-related limitations. For example, teaching currently takes place almost exclusively digitally, and many of the essential cornerstones of teaching are done alone and from home.  
 
If you are also studying architecture, you might be interested in how the use of shared workspaces is regulated at TU Graz. Here, these are called "Architecture Drawing Studios" (AZ for short), are managed by the members themselves, offer opportunities for creative (joint) work, and are also a place for students beyond that. Depending on the government's current COVID-19 measures, the technical drawing rooms will remain open whenever possible.

The TU Graz libraries

The library of Graz University of Technology is divided into three branches, all of which invite you to carry out research, read and learn. The main library contains literature for all disciplines with a focus on architecture and civil engineering. Furthermore, there is the NAWI specialist library for fields of study such as chemistry, geodesy, mathematics and natural sciences; and the specialist Inffeld library for mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, IT, process and chemical engineering, computer science and biomedical engineering. Here, too, it is important to note any changes in opening hours that may occur as part of the COVID-19 measures.

All the information about services and the current opening hours can be found on the website of the TU Graz library.

Studying at TU Graz in the time of COVID-19 – an orientation guide

In the 2020/21 winter semester, the motto was "digital first" - a combination of distance learning and in-person teaching. In-person teaching continues to be limited due to the ever-changing safety and hygiene regulations. Nevertheless, I felt well informed and supported at all times. On a regular basis, the International Office sends us international students information about the current corona regulations by email and informs us, among other things, about the corona "traffic light status", which ranges from red to green and is based on the measures announced by the Austrian federal government. For all international students, it is worth visiting the "Internationals – COVID-19 Information" webpage, which summarizes all current COVID-19 information.

Regardless of the corona situation, the International Office – Welcome Center of TU Graz supports international students during their arrival and in my case was also available at any time and answered all my questions.

In addition, the International Office – Welcome Center helps to establish contacts during the first weeks. For this purpose, it organizes walks, introductory events and much more, which makes it much easier for us international students to get to know the city and TU Graz. Additionally, I would like to positively highlight the fact that at the beginning of the semester most of the teachers attached great importance to us getting to know each other personally, so that the beginning of the semester could proceed more or less "normally" with our first walks through the city, in-person lectures, personal conversations and getting to know other students.

The Campus of TU Graz

Graz University of Technology has three campus locations: Campus Alte Technik, Campus Neue Technik and Campus Inffeldgasse.  You will spend time at the different campuses depending on your field of study (and the corona situation). To get an overview of the TU Graz campus, the website "Buildings of TU Graz" is very helpful. Campus Neue Technik and Campus Alte Technik in particular are very centrally located in the inner city, but Campus Inffeldgasse is also just a few minutes' bike ride from the centre.

View from above over modern roofscape in front and historic roofscape in the background

The campus locations "Old Campus“ (pictured here) and "New Campus“ of TU Graz are centrally located in the inner city.

University sports in Graz

Also to be recommended is the, in my opinion, very extensive range of sports offered by the University Sports Institute (USI), which includes diverse sports, from dancing to fencing to skiing. In addition to providing a balance to everyday university life, USI courses once again offer the opportunity to make contact with other students – including those doing completely different study programmes. Here, too, regular sessions took place for the first few weeks until sports unfortunately had to be interrupted until further notice due to regulations.
You can find out about the wide range of courses on offer on the website of the University Sports Institute – where there is usually something for everyone.
 
All in all, I am very glad that I decided to spend a semester abroad at Graz University of Technology despite the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was able to meet many great people and get an insight into architecture teaching at a university that was previously unknown to me.  

In the International News+Stories international students write about their experiences at TU Graz and give advice.

Contact

Lisa SCHMIDT
ERASMUS-Student at Graz University of Technology (TU Graz)
Master’s Degree Programme Architecture

lisa.r.schmidtnoSpam@gmx.de