First of all, my parents always wanted me to see the world, study abroad, get precious experience. After finishing my bachelor’s at home and having worked for a bit, I also realized that I’m still young and not ready yet to stay firmly in one place – I have the whole world waiting for me!
However, all this requires quite a lot from an inexperienced student. Not only do you need to be psychologically ready to leave your home, your comfort zone, deal with language barriers and cultural differences, but you also need to know about very simple everyday things, like documents, payments, money, laws and taxes. Getting less interesting now, huh? But trust me, it’s worth it, don’t be afraid of that.
My first little “bridge” to this new life was the Welcome Center of TU Graz. First it was the tedious process of gathering all the needed documents, then getting in touch, sending letters for more information and waiting, waiting. When I got the confirmation letter saying that I had been admitted to the program, it was really difficult to believe – they’ve got my documents and they haven’t even seen me yet, but they like me and want me to study there, amazing! During that whole hectic period of my life – I still had to finish my bachelor thesis and take care of all the application documents – the only way of communicating with that yet unknown city of Graz and its mysterious Graz University of Technology – or TU Graz for short – was through the wonderful people working at the Welcome Center. This willingness to help, to give advice, to be at service – this was a very pleasant surprise for me.
Then on one cold January day I arrived at Graz and brought my documents in person to TU Graz, to finish registration and get my place at the university. I was greeted very warmly – no haste, everything explained in detail; however stupid my questions may have seemed, I still got the answers to everything. First impression created, very well done TU Graz!
Before coming to register, I applied for a student visa and was very worried that I wouldn’t get a confirmation for that in time – the waiting times are all very different for unknown reasons, and you never know how long it will take to get a visa. I returned home after registering and was waiting for the visa to arrive and then start the semester in March – and again I was surprised by the friendliness: during that whole period the representatives of the Welcome Center were asking the Styrian government about the situation from time to time in an attempt to speed up the process and get it done in time. And indeed it worked, that’s why I managed to be here by the end of February to also attend the Welcome Days – another wonderful experience.
The first day
During the first days in a foreign country, in an unknown place, one might feel very lonely or homesick, or uncomfortable, lost somehow. But that was not the case with the Welcome Days – right from the beginning I met a lot of new friendly people, either those working at the university or other students like me, and all of them made me more self-confident, made me understand that it’s okay to ask for help, it’s all right not to know something or how to do something.
All that can help you adjust way easier, so you can start to feel like you’re a part of this society, even if you still lack something – language or knowledge, or something else.
And that was the beginning of the never-ending adventure for me here – I get to know new people from different cultures every day, find out something new all the time. I truly believe that such an experience even changes the way you think – you will never be the same again, instead you’ll be someone even better. You learn from this country how to be a better person, pick out all the best from your character and use it. I am really glad that I got such an opportunity and truly believe that this event is life changing for me.