||Master of Architectural Studies
||The University of Liechtenstein
||Principality of Leichtenstein
Why did you choose your host university?
I looked at Liechtenstein University as an option early on, it was small, it was cold, and it was unknown territory for me. Seemed like something I would hate. But then I decided to look at it from a different viewpoint. While it may be small, it was peaceful and beautiful. whilst it was cold I had never seen snow before so it was an all-new experience for me! Its location is also central Europe meaning it was a 20 minute walk from Switzerland, a 30 minute bus from Austria, a 1.5 hour train to Germany and a 2 hour train to Italy, I never had so many countries so close to me in my life! After much consideration Liechtenstein seemed like the perfect option to continue my Architectural studies at.
What was the university like?
The university structure is very different to back home. First off you have one big studio class that acts as half of the work you will do that semester, that includes a seminar week in one of the three countries that they pick for that year. My options included either Spain, Italy, or Norway. I chose the latter where I got to see so many new architectural forms and even visit the main headquarters for Snøhetta Studios.
The other classes are all only 4 weeks long each, so you’ll end up doing around 7 of them to make up for the classes that you will be missing back home. Here you will receive intensive classes on selected architectural topics that are well detailed and explained in a correct manner. You will never feel overwhelmed with the classes, they are all straight forward, and thanks to the remarkable studio spaces the whole working environment is incredibly enjoyable to work in.
What did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?
Without a doubt independence would be a major gain you will receive from your exchange. No more can you rely on your mother to wash your clothes or make you a hot meal at the end of the day.
You must cook your own meals, do your own laundry, get your own medicine when you’re sick, and do your own grocery shopping. But the best part about this is that you finally learn that you are capable of doing all of this on your own! This is an incredibly satisfying feeling.
What accommodation options were available to you? How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?
The best option for accommodation is the student dormitory that is run by the University of Liechtenstein. It’s about a 1 minute walk from the university and has around 80 people living in the dorms. Of those 80, roughly 30 of them are from different countries which allows for a huge multicultural community were students get to share meals together, drink together, and go on trips together outside of Liechtenstein. You can get a double room or a single room for a slightly higher price. All the prices however are justified and affordable.
Describe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries?
In my 6 months, away I travelled to 16 different countries. Liechtenstein has so many close neighbour countries that when we climbed the 3 sisters trail (2100 meter high alp in Liechtenstein), we could see the entirety of Liechtenstein, the Swiss border, the Austrian border, and Lake Constance with the German Border. 4 countries within one view. The university offers many opportunities to allow you to travel, such as the studio seminar week, or competing in the Liechtenstein Erasmus games. They try to promote their students to travel as much as possible. Even after the studies finish you have roughly a month before Uni starts back at Unisa which allows for plenty of time to explore Europe before you have to return home. It is a must do experience to see as much of Europe whilst spending so much time here!
Describe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.
Liechtenstein is a German speaking country. This might sway people off from joining, but in reality, everyone speaks in English. The course is taught in English, the students speak English, the bus drivers speak English, even the locals to! Not having proficient German never became an issue for me whilst studying here. The people you meet in the dormitory are the nicest people you’ll ever meet and will allow you to make friends with similar interest from every continent on the planet.
Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your future career?
Architectural firms in Australia believe that Exchanges overseas are hugely beneficial and will assist with applications to work at these firms. But it goes beyond that. The University of Liechtenstein is a gateway for so many opportunities to work and maybe live in Europe. The experience and architectural properties taught here will prepare you for the architectural standards of Europe.
What advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the exchange program?
When will you ever get the opportunity to live and study in a different country? Unless you do a second degree, you will never get this opportunity again. Liechtenstein is an overwhelmingly brilliant country, and I’m more convinced than ever that Europe is where I want to work and live one day because of it.
Be Courageous. Don’t think, act! The more you think about it the more you’ll try to convince yourself otherwise. This is something you want, so just do it! Say yes to every experience thrown at you.