The most important tip: If you want to study abroad, plan ahead
"As soon as your vision to study abroad is crystal clear, you should start preparing all the necessary documents. Don’t be lazy, don’t leave it until tomorrow, start at that very moment."
It all starts when the idea pops up: “Hey, I would like to study abroad!”
Unfortunately, that’s also where it ends for many people. After the initial hype, the thought process is terrifying. There are so many documents, so many legal matters to consider, deadlines, housing, financial aspects...
I am however here to tell you that no, it’s actually not that complicated, and my being here for almost two years is living proof. Once you get a hold of it and invest enough time, the process is actually pretty straightforward and in the following text I will do my best to cover it all.
There is however one crucial piece of advice I must give you, and that is to plan ahead. When I say that, I mean the following. As soon as your vision to study abroad is crystal clear, you should start preparing all the necessary documents. Don’t be lazy, don’t leave it until tomorrow, start at that very moment.
If this is that very moment, take a pen and a piece of paper, and I’ll help you with the rest.
Step one – Application process at Graz University of Technology (TU Graz)
So, the big decision was made. You have chosen the degree programme best suited to you (If you are still in need of help with that, you can always contact the TU Graz student advisory service). Now it’s time to go through the application process. All the necessary information regarding the procedure you can find on the TU Graz website at Admission of International Degree Programme Applicants.
Keep one thing in mind though: all the documents must be submitted in German. The translation can usually take up to a few weeks, so start doing it as early as possible.
Another important aspect is the level of your German language proficiency. If your desired course is offered only in German, you must possess a C1 language level certificate in order to enroll. If you don’t speak German that well, that’s no problem! You will be offered an option of attending language learning school called VGUH (Vorstudienlehrgang) and will be given up to three semesters to obtain the C1 certificate.
"If you don’t speak German that well, that’s no problem! You will be offered an option of attending language learning school called VGUH (Vorstudienlehrgang) and will be given up to three semesters to obtain the C1 certificate."
Step two – Accommodation
The acceptance letter is here, and now it’s official: you are moving to Graz! But where are you going to live?
Fun fact: more than 50,000 students live in Graz! Thanks to that, there is a whole range of possibilities to find adequate accommodation. More popular options for us students include student dormitories and WGs (shared apartments). Both can be great, and you can find countless offers for great accommodation on Facebook groups and different web pages. Spend some time on Google, and see for yourself.
One thing to keep in mind: the usual price range is anywhere from 150 euros to 500 euros per month.
"The usual price rangefor renting a room is anywhere from 150 euros to 500 euros per month."
Step three – Legal procedure upon your arrival in Graz
When you finally come here, you need to take care of all of the legal formalities. Again, sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. I will divide this step into four sub-categories:
- Registration of your stay in Graz at your local police station (Meldezettel)
- Opening a bank account in Austria
- Making sure you have insurance valid in Austria, or getting new insurance here
- Application for the resident permit (visa) – all the necessary information can be found on the website of the Austrian central service centre for European and international mobility and cooperation programmes "Oead" at Residence Permit – Student.
In this step your early document preparation plays a huge role. This is what I mean:
Many of the documents you need at this stage can only be acquired in your home country. If you don’t have all the documents at this stage, it will be quite complicated and expensive to get them. Again, not impossible, but it will make the process much more troubling than it needs to be. So be sure to get everything in time, and make a few extra copies just in case. Believe me, at some point, you will need them.
You will also have plenty of time to deal with the legal issues, since you are allowed to stay for up to three months in the EU without a visa. But remember, doing everything a few weeks before the deadline is going to save you a lot of unnecessary stress.
"You are allowed to stay for up to three months in the EU without a visa. But remember, doing everything a few weeks before the deadline is going to save you a lot of unnecessary stress."
Also to take in consideration – Financial aspect
Apart from the accommodation and insurance costs, a few further expenses that I would like to point out are university tuition fees and the living costs. For students who don’t live in the EU, you can find information on the fees on the TU Graz website at “Tuition Fees and the Austrian Student Union Fee".
Keep in mind that you can get most of the money back at the end of the semester if you collect a predetermined number of ECTS (at the moment, that number is 12). This is however valid only for non-EU nationals.
As for living costs, you can expect to spend around 60 euros per week. At least that is what the average amount was when I made a small statistic with my friends and colleagues.
And don’t forget – Check scholarships
You can check out the offered scholarships at TU Graz on the website "Scholarships for Students". I would also advise you to ask around in your home country, since many students manage to get some sort of support from their local authorities. It’s worth a try at least!
TU Graz Welcome Center – Social integration and general help upon and before arrival
I would strongly suggest you to contact TU Graz Welcome Center if you need any help with your stay even before arrival. The staff at the Welcome Center are extremely nice and friendly, and will do their best to help you start off well. They also help with the legal issues, and you can contact them if you have any questions regarding the subjects that I covered in this post. They also organize quite a few events, so you can meet new people and have some fun as well.
"The staff at the Welcome Center are extremely nice and friendly, and will do their best to help you start off well. They also help with the legal issues."